Mathieu Flamini says Arsenal will be able to gauge how far along they are in their pre-season preparations when they face Benfica.
Jorge Jesus’ side won the Portuguese title and reached the Europa League final last season, and face the Gunners at the Emirates Cup on Saturday.
Flamini is eagerly anticipating the contest and believes Arsene Wenger’s side will have to be on top of their game to make a winning start to the tournament.
"It won’t be an easy game but we are getting closer to the first league match and it’s a good opportunity to evaluate how fit we are"
“Benfica are, with Porto, one of the best teams in Portugal,” he told the official Emirates Cup programme. “They will be a very strong side, they have a lot of quality and it was not a surprise that they qualified for the final of the Europa League.
“They are a strong side that play good football. It won’t be an easy game but we are getting closer to the first league match and it’s a good opportunity for us to evaluate how fit we are.
“It will be an interesting tournament for us.”
Flamini scored Arsenal’s very first Emirates Cup goal, in 2007, and also has happy memories of playing in the competition with AC Milan three years later.
“It was the first time I came back to the Emirates so there were a lot of emotions,” he said. “I was a bit nervous because I was playing in front of the fans for the first time since I left.
“But I was happy to see everyone at the stadium and that nothing had changed. It was a great experience.”
Read the full interview in the Emirates Cup souvenir programme. It's packed with features, competitions to win Premier League tickets, flights and signed shirts, plus a giant poster of our new signings and Aaron Ramsey
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