Emirates Cup 2013: Complete Guide and Players to Watch

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2013

Last summer, the presence of the Olympics in London meant that Arsenal decided to postpone the Emirates Cup. However, this season the tournament returns for a sixth time.



 Saturday, August 3 2013

Galatasaray vs. FC Porto (2 p.m. GMT+1)
Arsenal vs. Napoli (4:20 p.m. GMT+1)

Sunday, August 4 2013
Napoli vs. FC Porto (2 p.m. GMT+1)
Arsenal vs. Galatasaray (4:20 p.m. GMT+1)

Where: Emirates Stadium, London

Listen: Live on Arsenal Player


The Teams

Arsenal will hope to use the Emirates Cup to make a statement of intent ahead of next season. Arsenal fans are bracing themselves for a big summer of transfer activity and will hope that a reinforced squad can challenge for major honours next season. The Emirates Cup may just be a friendly tournament, but it is also a good litmus test of this Arsenal squad's capabilities.

The Gunners' first opponents in the tournament will be Napoli. The Italian side will have an unfamiliar feel next season. Coach Walter Mazzarri has departed to join Inter and has been replaced by former Chelsea and Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez. Benitez will be keen to make an instant impact, especially in front of a hostile Emirates crowd.

On the second day, Arsenal face Galatasaray. Fatih Terim's side waltzed to the Turkish title last season and contain a host of familiar names, including former Gunner Emmanuel Eboue. Arsenal's current defenders will be quaking at the possibility of facing off against Didier Drogba once again.

The quartet is completed by Porto, who arrive on the back of a spectacular Primeira Liga triumph in 2012/13. Porto pipped rivals Benfica to the post to claim their 27th league title and managed to match Arsenal's achievement of 2003/04 by finishing the season unbeaten.


Players to Watch

Arsenal's fans will be hoping to see more of the same from Santi Cazorla. The diminutive Spaniard was voted the club's Player of the Season in 2012/13 and, with a season of rigorous English football under his belt, is primed to make an even bigger impact next season.

In the last few seasons, Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani has grabbed the majority of the headlines. However, with Dominic Fifield of The Guardian linking the Napoli striker with a move to Read Madrid, the Napoli supporters will be looking for a new hero. They need look no further than Marek Hamsik: The driving runs of the midfielder have been just as important in Napoli's ascent as Cavani's goals.

Galatasaray will be hoping to coax improved performances from their Dutch playmaker, Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder is yet to recapture his sparkling Inter Milan form in a Galatasaray shirt. If he can rediscover the old magic, he could yet emerge as the star of this tournament.

Porto's hopes will rest predominantly with Colombia striker Jackson Martinez. The acrobatic hit man recently delighted Porto supporters by entering into talks over a new contract, and thus calling a halt to the drain of talent away from the Portuguese club. According to Max Cobain's report in the Express, both Liverpool and Tottenham had held out hope of ensnaring the prolific forward.


The Rules

The Emirates Cup has some unusual rules, which distinguishes it from other football tournaments.

Teams are awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw, as is customary. However, they're also awarded an additional point for every goal they score.

Shots on target will be used to decide the cup winner if two teams are level on points at the end of the tournament.



These tournaments generally favour the home side. If the Gunners are able to add some new faces ahead of kick-off, they ought to be able to celebrate a victory on home turf.