With the massive success that the Barclay’s Premier League has had in terms of drawing interest from the United States over the past few years, it isn’t a surprise that a slew of teams are making their way across the Atlantic Ocean for exhibition games.
Tottenham Hotspur has played several friendlies already, with another one scheduled for Saturday night against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Manchester United battled the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Liverpool will take on Greek side Olympiakos at Soldier Field on Sunday. All of these teams have played on American soil in recent years as well, but one team that hasn’t set foot on the continent in a quarter century will do so this weekend.
That club is Arsenal, and they will be playing their first game in the US since 1989 when they take on the New York Red Bulls in New Jersey. The team won’t have some of its biggest stars, including new acquisitions Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, or German World Cup champions Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker, or Lukas Podolski, but they will be drawing a massive crowd regardless for their first stateside trip in recent memory.
The team, who arrived in New York on Wednesday night, has already been getting into the spirit of things, releasing a YouTube video of some of the players trying to speak with a New York accent:
As one would expect, fans of the team will be celebrating their return to America by hosting a slew of parties. The Arsenal supporter’s club Arsenal America will be hosting “Gooner Day” at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, a 3-on-3 soccer tournament at Grand Central Station, and a variety of other meet-ups at bars throughout the Big Apple. Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry, who currently plays for the Red Bulls, will be on hand for some of the festivities, and is likely to play in Saturday’s friendly against his former team.
Ultimately, this game won’t do anything in terms of who makes the squad and who doesn’t (and there are plenty of rumors that players like Thomas Vermaelen and Santi Cazorla could be on the move before the August 31 transfer deadline), but it will be a huge opportunity for the club to promote itself on American shores.
Teams like Chelsea and Manchester United both enjoy massive followings stateside, but Arsenal is developing one of the most fervent groups of supporters among any of the English clubs, and this trip to New York is further proof of that progress.
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