The Emirates Cup: A History

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The history of the Emirates Cup is a short, but pleasant one. After Arsenal moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, they quickly established the Emirates Cup the following season, immediately before the 2007/08 campaign.

Ever since that date, high-calibre teams from across the globe have come together to prepare themselves for their impending seasons, in a two-day joust for the Emirates Cup.

“[The Emirates Cup] enables fans to get a glimpse of the talent lurking within the Arsenal youth ranks.”

Six tournaments have been held since the Cup’s establishment, with a variety of different winners. For The Gunners, it serves as a great preparation tool for the first team, yet also enables fans to get a glimpse of the talent who lurk within the Arsenal youth ranks.

The involvement of such youth up against some of the biggest clubs in the world is an exciting prospect. Additional excitement is added to the tournament by the performances of new signings – if indeed there are any at the time.

Dutch Roots

Many Arsenal fans will remember that before moving to the Emirates Stadium, The Gunners regularly enjoyed a pre-season tournament in the Netherlands.

Dutch high-flyers Ajax hosted their two-day Amsterdam Tournament every year, which was inaugurated in 1975. They invited Arsenal a total of 6 times, more than any other club apart from AZ Alkmaar, who were also invited a to the tournament 6 times.

“The Gunners won the Amsterdam Tournament 3  times out of their 6 visits…”

Although the Amsterdam Tournament was a simple pre-season arrangement for clubs to hone their strategies in time for the new season, the tournament became a household name across England, as it regularly held the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and so forth.

The Gunners won the Amsterdam Tournament 3 times out of their 6 visits, resulting in a number of fans becoming quite fond of the arrangement, looking forward to its arrival each pre-season.

As a result, the Emirates Cup took on a similar style, operating over a two-day period, with four well established clubs coming together to try to win the tournament. Further taking from the Amsterdam Tournament, each team plays two matches, with three points awarded for a win, one point for a draw, and a point for every goal scored.

However, the additional points added for goals scored was removed during the 2011 tournament, and with the 2013 Emirates Cup looming, it will be interesting to see if the rule will make a return.

Emirates Cup Winners & Participants

Over the years, Arsenal have been able to attract some pretty important clubs from around Europe, North and South America. Along the way, Thierry Henry made an emotional return to North London, ensuring that the Emirates Cup, despite being ultimately meaningless – has some classic Arsenal spirit within it.

The tournament was cancelled in 2012 due to the London Olympic games, but will restart in a few days time, as The Gunners look to welcome Galatasaray, FC Porto and Napoli to the Emirates Stadium.

Below is a table displaying the participants and winners of the tournament for the last six years.

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Despite its short history, Arsenal will be proud to have won the tournament 3 times out of 6 attempts, and will surely do their best to increase that number within the coming days – and years. Paris Saint-Germain seem to be welcome visitors with  appearances, and so we can expect to see them regularly as the Emirates Cup continues to build its history.

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History in the Making?

As previously mentioned, the Emirates Cup is widely viewed amongst Arsenal fans as being relatively pointless. But I couldn’t disagree more.

In time, I hope that [the Emirates Cup] will become the Amsterdam Tournament of a new generation.”

Of course, nobody disputes the fact that the tournament provides players with the chance to regain their fitness and perfect their approach to the impending season. Yet for most fans, the tournament is seen to serve that purpose – and that purpose alone.

However, I liken the arrangement to that of Ajax’s Amsterdam Tournament.

Growing up, I often looked forward to the Amsterdam Tournament, knowing that Arsenal were likely to be invited. I learnt about Ajax, and came to respect them as a club. Without doubt, that was due to the Amsterdam Tournament, which despite being ultimately meaningless, held an air of silent prestige. I say this because, as pointless as it was, it still felt good to win it.

Being so young, the Emirates Cup hasn’t reached such a prestigious status, but in time, I truly hope that it will become more than just the training exercise it currently is. In fact, I hope that it can one day become the Amsterdam Tournament of a new generation.

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