Arsenal Tour 2017

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Wenger's latest comments about Alexis

Before he left China on Saturday night, Arsene Wenger had one final media duty to fulfil - a chat with newspaper reporters.

Alexis was the main subject - as he has often been at press conferences on tour - and here’s what the boss said about the latest speculation.

on if he thinks Alexis is in Paris…
No, I don’t think so.

on the French media claiming Alexis has been in Paris…
I read L’Equipe in the last three or four days. It has moved from Sanchez to Neymar. Today they speak about Neymar, three days ago they speak about Alexis. They need as well, like you [reporters], subjects.

on PSG surely not being able to sign Neymar and Alexis…
No. They cannot get Sanchez so they go for Neymar.

on if he’s adamant that Alexis will be an Arsenal player on August 31 and if his mind could change…
No, my mind has been made up for a while now.

on if he needs to make that stance…
I think I made it clear a few times.

on whether Alexis has specifically asked to leave Arsenal…

on the club being in a different situation to 2011 or 2012…
We are in a strong financial situation. So we want to keep our best players. You can see that there is a fight everywhere to get top players.

on whether he expects to move any players on - such as Kieran Gibbs…
There are talks, yes. There is contact but we are not close.

Arsenal Tour 2017

'It's been phenomenally positive'

With our pre-season tour now at a close it is natural to reflect on the trip as a whole - and Ivan Gazidis feels the past two weeks have been hugely beneficial.

As well as gathering momentum in our preparations for the new Premier League season, the tour also afforded the opportunity for many off-field events and engagement with our fanbase and the local communities in Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing.

Below is a transcript of our chief executive's full interview with Arsenal Player:

on the tour…
It’s been a brilliant, brilliant pre-season tour. First of all, brilliant off the field in terms of the preparation for the players, fitness work and everything on the football side that goes with that. But off the field, the welcome from the fans in Sydney and here in China has been incredible. Everywhere we’ve gone there has been hundreds and thousands of fans, 200,000 plus in attendance at the games. But also we’ve been reaching out in all the places that we’ve been. I think we put on over 100 events altogether with our players getting out and about and meeting with our fanbase in all these different places. Brilliant to experience a little bit of the culture and also the beautiful scenery as well. It’s just been fantastic all around.

on his personal highlights…
Well, I think one of the highlights from my perspective was going and visiting our friends at Tribal Warrior, which is an organisation which helps indigenous people in Australia, young people, and supports them with achieving their potential. It was great for us to be able to connect with that, see some of the indigenous culture in the country and also to make a contribution to the work that they do and we’re proud to do that, but it’s also fantastic to experience just a little taste of Australia’s rich history which goes back far, far before when it was colonised. It goes back into the midst of time and you could feel the depth and the beauty of that civilisation on that visit, it was a lovely thing to do.

on the club giving something back…
We take club values seriously and a part of that has always been our work in the community. We’ve got deep roots in our local community in Islington, we’re touching over 3,500 people every week in our local programmes. But we’re also doing work all around the world. We’ve done work here in Beijing with migrant children in Beijing. We’re doing work in places as difficult and far flung as Iraq and Syria, Somalia, Indonesia, building football pitches and giving the programmes that go around that infrastructure, those football pitches, that helps us support people to great social outcomes. So we’re taking what we do locally and bringing it around the world and I’m very proud that that’s a part of what this club does.

on the welcome from fans around the world…
The connection that people feel with the club and its values is very real. One of the things that you really begin to understand when you travel around the world is not just the breadth of the club and the scale of the club around the world, but the degree of personal connection that people have with the club and with the values. It’s been phenomenally positive to be able to come out here in person and see that and give them that personal interaction with the club and with our players and to see the response has been incredible.

on the summer continuing apace in London now…
It does. We get back to London and we’re straight into three weeks of preparation really going into the Premier League season. The next week is going to be about preparing for the Emirates Cup. We’ve got games on Saturday and Sunday at Emirates Stadium and that will be the usual fantastic event that is serious preparation, all the players getting a chance to work some more on getting ready for the beginning of the season. But also it’s always a fantastic, festive atmosphere, so that’ll be a great event for us and then of course the week after that the Community Shield, we play Chelsea again and then straight into the season.

Arsenal Tour 2017

'Tour is the best thing I’ve experienced’

To go from Hednesford Town to playing for Arsenal in the Bird’s Nest Stadium  in the space of a year is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

For Cohen Bramall, it is has been a remarkable rise and he has been soaking up every moment of his time on tour to Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing.

“I have gained a lot of experience,” he told Arsenal Player. “The tour has been amazing,  probably the best thing I have ever done and hopefully I am on not next year too. 

“I wouldn’t change it for the world, I am so grateful to the boss for bringing me on board with the team.

“It’s hit me now [how far I have come]. I knew it would hit me after I made my first appearance and it has. It hasn’t even been a year, it’s more like seven months… it’s [amazing]. 

“I needed as many games as possible to get more experience under my belt,” he added. “The second goal was my fault, I’ll take that on the chin - my foot just got stuck on the turf.”

Post-Match Report

Arsenal v Chelsea: How we saw it

By Chris Harris in Beijing


Our summer tour ended with a defeat as Chelsea punished us for a tired first-half performance in the Bird’s Nest.

Two goals in two minutes did most of the damage.

First, Willian got away from Per Mertesacker and cut inside Nacho Monreal to find the bottom corner. Then N’Golo Kante stole possession on the halfway line and fed Michy Batshuayi, who beat David Ospina in style.

Ospina had proved hard to beat until then, denying Victor Moses and then tipping over brilliantly from the same man seconds after saving from Willian.

Ospina could do nothing about Chelsea’s third, a sumptuous finish from Batshuayi after Marco Alonso had beaten Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left.

That came early in the second half, a half that saw a marked improvement from us.

Before the break our best - and perhaps only - opportunities had fallen to Aaron Ramsey. He fired wide after Alex Iwobi snatched possession and found Mesut Ozil, and later forced Thibault Courtois into action.

After the break the chances flowed more freely. Ramsey almost picked out Olivier Giroud with a cross, and Francis Coquelin fired inches over after Giroud’s blocked free-kick was recycled.

Giroud saw another effort fly wide and, with Coquelin biting into tackles, we looked a lot more threatening. 

Reiss Nelson once again injected pace and trickery on the right and he set up Donyell Malen for a shot that hit the outside of the post.

But the goals would not come.


One of the features of this tour has been the emergence of a few notable young talents - and they got another chance in the Bird’s Nest.

This time last year Cohen Bramall was preparing for a new season with non-league Hednesford Town. What a step up this is. 

He was mainly on the defensive against Moses with Chelsea in the ascendancy, but one or two bursts down the flank demonstrated that Bramall has the athleticism to prosper at wing-back.

Bramall did get caught out for Chelsea’s second though as Kante seized possession and found Batshuayi.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has played in both wing-back positions and in midfield for us… and now he’s played centre back. He was stationed to the right of Per Mertesacker and was kept incredibly busy.

Maitland-Niles’ pace came in handy, two bursts allowing him to get back and stop Pedro and then Jeremie Boga.

Willian did get away from the Arsenal youngster to go through on goal - but he screwed his shot wide.

The second half saw further opportunities for Nelson - once again on the right - and Malen. They combined well in the final third and Malen went as close as anyone to a consolation goal after a brilliant burst from Nelson.


Read our play-by-play match commentary.


That’s it for this summer’s tour, but our pre-season schedule continues apace on our return to London.

The Emirates Cup returns to Emirates Stadium next weekend with games against Benfica on Saturday and Sevilla on Sunday. RB Leipzig complete the line-up.

Get your tickets for the Emirates Cup.




Arsenal Tour 2017

Match video: Chelsea v Arsenal

We ended our pre-season tour with a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Bird's Nest in Beijing on Saturday evening.

An experimental side fell behind to goals from Willian and Michy Batshuayi shortly before the break, before the striker added his second after half-time.

Press 'Play' to watch our 12-minute match clip above, or our bitesize round-up below.

Arsenal Tour 2017

‘Youngsters have shown personality and quality’

In Arsene Wenger’s own words, we looked ‘a bit jaded’ when slipping to our first defeat of pre-season against Chelsea at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing on Saturday.

Fielding an experimental side with players filling in in unfamiliar positions, we fell behind to a quick-fire double from Willian and Michy Batshuayi just before half-time, with the latter completing the scoring soon after the break.

However, despite ending our tour with defeat, the manager feels this two-week trip to Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing will benefit his players - particularly the younger ones - in the long run.

“I played some boys with a lack of experience in unusual positions to see how they can cope with it,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “Chelsea went for a regular team from the start on and I had a mix in one half and in the second half. We paid a little bit for it, but despite that, it was not all negative.

“We had some very good moments in the game as well, but we couldn’t score. Overall, I think there were lots of positives in the game. We lacked a bit of experience in decisive positions.

“They [the younger players] learned that every ball at that level is important. You cannot be at 95 per cent in these kind of games.

“You have to be completely 100 per cent committed and they paid for every mistake. The pace of the game was much higher than they are used to. They will go home with plenty of things to think about and hopefully they will learn quickly from it.

“As well, I must say there were a lot of positive from some young players. They have shown personality, quality and that they have a good chance at that level.”

More than 230,000 fans attended our four tour fixtures - and the support shown to the team will live with the manager for a long time.

“It’s unbelievable what we got in terms of attendances,” Wenger added. “The positives are that we experienced how much people love us all over the world.

“I think it’s a great experience for the players to live with each other for two weeks. We had good and bad moments because we traveled a lot, but the preparation was positive and it’s good to go home.

“I think we will benefit from the time we spent together. Now we go straight into the Emirates Cup and therefore it’s important to recover.”

Arsenal Tour 2017

The story behind that Giroud mix-up

The second half was delayed at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing after an argument broke out over Olivier Giroud’s involvement in the game.

The France striker was trying to come on as a half-time substitute but, for a while, he wasn’t allowed. Arsene Wenger explained why in his post-match press conference.

on Giroud not being listed on the teamsheet…
Yes [there was some conflict]! I don’t understand why he was not on the list. They didn’t want to let him play, and we of course had a bit of an argument because we announced him. We finally got the green light from someone in the sky, and he could play.

on the game…
I think it was a game of a good level where we finally lost well. It was a bit of a combination for us, I think it was a good opportunity for me to see players at that level who have no experience. I tried to play two teams with a mixture of regular players and young players. Of course you could see that we were a bit less mature than Chelsea. Also it was the last day of our tour, it was quite long and we looked a bit jaded tonight.

on the impact of playing in Chinese conditions…
I think the impact is small. We are a bit tired because we worked hard. Overall, we fly back tonight and we recover. It is normal that the players are a bit tired after two weeks of intense preparation. This week we had two intense games as well but for us it’s better than playing weaker teams. We had two big teams to play and it’s good to see the potential of everybody in these kinds of games.

Arsenal Tour 2017

'He built up lots of people, like me'

Arsene Wenger was famously a relative unknown to football fans in England when he took over as our manager in 1996. And Laurent Koscielny was hardly a household name when he joined his compatriot at Emirates Stadium.

Koscielny has been a Gunner for close to seven years and he says Wenger has played a big role in his rise to prominence. 

“I think all the players who have been trained by Mr Wenger have a lot of respect for him,” he said. 

“For me, he’s an important person because he brought me in when I played in France. He gave me the chance to play for a big club like Arsenal, to play in the Champions League, to play for the France national team. If you want to play for the national team, you have to play for a big club and that’s what I did. 

“He built up a lot of people and always built the man. I have a big part of my life dedicated to Arsenal. I have a close relationship with the boss and the club. I’m happy at Arsenal, I have my children here, so Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are very important to me and the other players.”

Koscielny sat out our last game - a win on penalties against Bayern - but he could return to face Chelsea at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing on Saturday.

“My back is better,” he explained. “I had a little pain one morning, so I had treatment over the past two days. Today I trained and was OK. Not 100 per cent, but I’m OK for playing. We will see tomorrow. 

“We have worked well during this tour of Australia and China. We worked well physically, technically and tactically, and we have some friendly games to show what we’ve learned during our sessions. 

“The game [against Chelsea] is for this and we want to win because a win here would give us the confidence we need to play with freedom. I hope all our players are focused on the new season because we need to play to win our first game.”

Arsenal Tour 2017

Arsenal squad receive fantastic Beijing welcome

The first-team squad touched down in Beijing on Thursday - and received an incredible welcome from hundreds of fans at the airport.

This is the final leg of our summer tour, having played matches in Sydney and then Shanghai, and we will face Chelsea at the Bird's Nest Stadium on Saturday.

Our club photographer was at Beijing airport as the team arrived and sent back these pictures.

Arsenal Tour 2017

Koscielny, Giroud, Elneny visit Yuyuan Garden

Monday was the Arsenal squad's first full day in Shanghai - and Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny found time to visit the impressive Yuyuan Garden between training sessions.

The three attended a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and learnt more about local culture on their visit, and you can watch more of what they got up to by clicking the 'play' button above.

Arsenal Tour 2017

Pictures: Hundreds attend Shanghai fan party

The fan party in Shanghai

Six members of our first-team squad had quite a reception when they attended an official fan party at our hotel in Shanghai on Monday.

Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Emi Martinez, Francis Coquelin and Nacho Monreal brought out the Emirates FA Cup as they were greeted by hundreds of fans. 

The Arsenal stars answered questions, took part in a kung-fu lesson, met a two-year old fan and played games during the hour-long session.

Our club photographer was there and sent back these images.