This week sees our pre-season preparations step up a level as we take on 1. FC Nurnberg on Thursday afternoon.
Just as we did a year ago, Mikel Arteta's side will take on the German second-tier side in friendly action as we tune up for the Premier League kick-off in a month's time, against a team that holds a special place in their nation’s footballing history.
To get you up to speed, here is everything you need to know about our opponents:
1. FC Nurnberg were formed in 1900 and currently ply their trade in the second tier of German football. A major force before the creation of the Bundesliga in the 1960s, they have won nine top-tier titles and four German Cups - the most recent in 2006/07.
Nurnberg play at Max-Morlock Stadion, which opened in 1928 and has hosted their games since 1963. Named after the club’s legendary striker who represented his hometown team for 24 years, the 50,000-capacity venue hosted the 1967 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final between Bayern Munich and Rangers and five games at the 2006 World Cup, including England’s 2-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago.
The glory days
In the early part of their history, Nurnberg went unbeaten in 104 official matches between 1918 and 1922, leading them to be nicknamed Der Club. They would claim five league titles during the 1920s, and despite seeing their dominance slip in the years leading up to World War II, they remained a contender for league and cup honours on either side of the conflict.
Spearheaded by Morlock's goals [above], the 1960s again brought success for the club, as they won the league in 1961, gaining entry to the European Cup which saw them reach the quarter-finals before succumbing to Eusebio’s Benfica. The following season saw a run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and their only Bundesliga crown arrived in 1967/68, but incredibly they were relegated 12 months later following a hasty squad overhaul.
Since then, Nurnberg have regularly flirted between the top two tiers of German football, being relegated on nine occasions. In the mid-1990s they even dipped into the third division, however the following decade saw them twice finish sixth in the Bundesliga, and play in the UEFA Cup as a consequence of their 2007 German Cup success.
Their most recent top-flight campaign came in 2018/19, meaning they are now entering their fifth season in the second tier.
A turbulent campaign saw three different managers occupy the dugout. A slow start saw Robert Klaub dismissed in October, who was swiftly replaced by Markus Weinzierl. He only lasted for 13 league matches which yielded four wins, and saw former boss Dieter Hecking return to the club on an interim basis to help them avoid the drop.
He took 10 points from the final nine games to ensure Der Club finished in 14th position, five points away from the relegation places, as well as reaching the quarter-fimal of the German Cup. That has helped set the stage for reserve team manager Cristian Fiel to step into the first-team hot seat ahead of the new season.
11-time capped Wales international centre-back James Lawrence - who spent time in our academy as a youngster - arrived at Nurnberg at the start of last season from St Pauli, having also represented Anderlecht in a career that has yet to see him play in Great Britain.
A familiar face to Premier League fans will be centre-back Christopher Schindler who represented Huddersfield Town, however, he suffered a cruciate injury in May and is still recovering. Mats Moller Daehli also featured in the division for Cardiff City and now has 35 caps for Norway, where he is captained by Martin Odegaard.
Their strikers include London-born Kwadwo Duah, who topped last season's scoring charts with 11, and recent recruit Daichi Hayashi, who alongside Takehiro Tomiyasu represented Japan at the 2020 Olympic Games where they reached the semi-finals. Meanwhile, right winger Jens Castrop is a current German under-20 international.
We took on Nurnberg for the first time 12 months ago in friendly action, and played out an eight-goal thriller that saw us recover from a 2-0 half-time deficit to eventually prevail 5-3.
Gabriel Jesus' introduction from the bench for his first action in our colours proved to be the catalyst, as he netted twice with Mohamed Elneny also blasting home from range. Two own goals from the hosts from Schindler and Tim Handwerker also boosted the scoreline for Mikel Arteta's men.
Other Arsenal links
Our former defender Konstantinos Mavropanos spent the second half of the 2019/20 campaign on loan at the club from us, making 12 appearances, following in the footsteps of Havard Nordtveit who made 20 appearances on loan from the Gunners in 2009/10.
Academy product Martin Angha, who featured twice for our first team, also made the switch between the two clubs in the summer of 2013 and spent a year at Max-Morlock Stadion.
You can watch our game against Nurnberg on Arsenal.com - find out how.
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