After weeks of speculation, the line up for this season's Emirates Cup has finally being announced with the New York Red Bulls, Paris St. Germain and Boca Juniors joining Arsenal at the pre-season curtain raiser at the Emirates Stadium on July 30 and 31.
Perhaps the most appealing game of the tournament for Arsenal fans comes on Sunday the 30th July at 4:20 p.m., as the Gunners will be taking will be taking on the New York Red Bulls, giving the home fans the chance to see the return of the legendary Thierry Henry, who scored a record 226 goals for the club in eight seasons.
Henry departed the Gunners for Barcelona following the 2006-07 season and moved onto the New York Red Bulls in the summer of 2010 along with fellow Bacelona player Rafa Marquez.
Despite never winning a championship in the MLS, the Red Bull are one of the league's most recognizable clubs, with its globally recognized ownership and a team of international players alongside Designated Players Henry and Marquez.
Arsenal fans might also be familiar with some other former English League stars on the Red Bulls: former Welsh international Carl Robinson, ex-Spurs midfielder Teemu Tainio, striker Luke Rogers formally of Notts County and midfielder John Rooney, younger brother of Man United and England striker Wayne Rooney.
The New York Red Bulls will be the first team from North America to compete in the Emirates Cup, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious pre-season tournaments in the world. Previous entrants to the competition have included; Valencia, Inter Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, Hamburg SV, Athletico Madrid, Rangers, Celtic, Lyon and AC Milan.
In his release to the media, Arsenal Cheif Executive, Ivan Gazidis said: “New York Red Bulls, Boca Juniors and Paris Saint-Germain are three clubs with great players and huge followings, and they are sure to make Emirates Cup 2011 a hugely exciting weekend of football. Also, I’m sure all Arsenal fans will be looking forward to welcoming back Thierry Henry—a true Arsenal legend."
Thierry Henry, in a release through New York Red Bulls communications department, expressed how "very happy" and "excited" he is to be returning to Arsenal as a member of the Red Bulls, and New York General Manager Eric Soler added that is "honored" and "looking forward to representing Major League Soccer in this high-profile international tournament".
The Red Bulls themselves hosted their own international tournament last summer, losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur and beating Manchester City, 2-1, only to see Sporting lifting the title of the New York Football Challenge.
Members of Arsenal America, the team's fan club in the United States, were invited to a meet and greet with Thierry following a Red Bulls game toward the end of the 2010 MLS season.
Now the home fans of Arsenal will once again be able to see the iconic Frenchman play in North London again, in what is sure to be one of the most eagerly anticipated pre-season tournaments of the summer.