By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger will enjoy a reunion with Patrick Vieira and Edu later this month - but he wants to leave them both in the shade at the Emirates Cup.
The Arsenal manager is determined to win the inaugural pre-season tournament at Emirates Stadium and has pledged to field strong sides against Paris St. Germain on Saturday, July 28 and Inter Milan a day later.
Inter will be bolstered by former Arsenal captain Vieira while Valencia, who complete a stellar line-up in north London, have Edu in their ranks. But Wenger expects the Club's new signings to make their mark too as Arsenal chase silverware on home soil.
"We will be taking the Emirates Cup very seriously as it is an important part of pre-season," Wenger told Arsenal.com. "We are all really looking forward to playing at Emirates Stadium and it is a good opportunity for us to play some very strong opposition at home before the season starts.
"I would like to say to all supporters that we will be playing a strong side for both matches and we will be taking both matches very seriously, so you can expect to see all available players involved the matches over the weekend.
"I have been told that tickets for the Sunday have completely sold out, and that tickets are selling quickly for the Saturday, so it shows that Arsenal supporters cannot wait for the new season to start.
"And I understand that the Club have structured the tickets prices reasonably, so it a great opportunity for fans to have a good day out watching two matches and enjoying some high-quality football."
Last summer's preparations were disrupted by the World Cup finals in Germany but Wenger expects the vast majority of his squad to be in peak condition when the 2007/08 campaign kicks off. Indeed, Gilberto is the only Arsenal player who has been on extended international duty, helping Brazil win the Copa America.
"There was no World Cup or European Championships this summer so most of the players have had a longer rest and I will select the team for the Emirates Cup matches from everybody who has returned training," said Wenger. "That means that it will be the first time our new signings would have played at Emirates Stadium for Arsenal, and the sides we field will be very strong.
"We know how important it is to start the new season well, and I am convinced we will be focused, ready to start, and that the players will do very well and the Emirates Cup will play a big part towards our preparation.
"From a personal point of view, and for the fans especially, it will be fantastic to welcome Patrick Vieira back to the Club again over the weekend. He will be coming back with Inter and I'm sure he will be given great reception by everybody. Edu will also be coming back to London with Valencia, and I'm always happy when our former players maintain a good relationship with the Club once they've left, which is the case with Edu and Patrick.
"The other team we play will be Paris Saint-Germain, who have a number of quality players, and are sure to give us the test that we need in the build up to the new season."
Tickets are still available for the Emirates Cup over the weekend of July 28 and 29.
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