By Rob Kelly in Kuala Lumpur
The passion Asian fans demonstrate in their support for Premier League clubs proves that it is a "world league", according to Arsène Wenger.
The Gunners landed in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to a rapturous welcome ahead of their clash against a Malaysia XI on Tuesday night.
And Wenger says the popularity of the Club across the globe means it is essential to connect with supporters whenever the opportunity arises.
“It is vital [to visit fans around the world] because in Europe we are a bit insular, especially in England,” he said. “We don’t realise how many people watch us when we play football.
“When you come out here you realise that the Premier League is a world league first and it is a challenge for England to keep that going as many other countries want to challenge that.
“[The tour] is an opportunity for our fans to connect with the players, because when you are young to see people that you have admired on television is fantastic.”
Wenger admits he “loves” the Far East, having managed Nagoya Grampus in Japan before taking over at Arsenal, and is pleased to be back once more on the Club’s 2012 tour.
“I love Asia because I love different cultures,” he said. “One of the reasons I do this job is to meet people from different countries and continents.
“I spent two years working in Asia as a manager and I enjoyed it very much, because you find different qualities and different ways of life. I like Asia very much.”
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