Arsenal will face Lyon and AC Milan in Dubai as part of the Dubai Super Cup in December.
The round-robin tournament – organised to help the clubs’ players stay fit during the World Cup break – will also feature Liverpool although the Gunners won’t face Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Gunners have long planned to use the mid-season break for a warm-weather training camp and it’s little surprise that our sponsors have jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Both Lyon and AC Milan also partner with Emirates Airlines.
In total there will be four matches played at the 15,000-capacity Al Maktoum Stadium, with each team playing two throughout the tournament.
After each match, a penalty shootout will also take place for additional points to be gained – three points will be awarded to the match winner, two points for a draw and whoever wins the shootout will grab a point.
Arsenal will have 10 senior players at Qatar 2022 so the initial squad is likely to feature several academy kids. However, by the time the matches take place (8 December vs Lyon) and (13 December vs AC Milan), it’s possible players knocked out at the group stages of the World Cup will be integrated into Arsenal’s schedule.
The club has also confirmed that a further friendly will be played at Emirates Stadium before Mikel Arteta’s side face West Ham United on Boxing Day. Details of that will be confirmed shortly.
On his side’s trip to Dubai, the boss said: “We’ve got a pre-season. Not a full pre-season but a really good three weeks of preparation where we want to get the team ready.
“We want to get the team ready in different phases as we’re going to have certain players at the start and some players in the middle of it and certain players at the end, in relation to what happens at the World Cup.
“We need a good preparation, mentally and physically to be ready for the huge demands that the second part of the season will bring to the team.
“Obviously, it’s an easy trip. One of our biggest sponsors that we have, Emirates, is part of it. We’ve been there, we know the facilities, it’s a really good environment to work, the weather is spectacular and then World Cup is so close to it, so any player that is around there, it’s so easy to get them back straight away. It ticks all the boxes that we need.”
He also touched on how he plans to reintegrate those players who are away with their country.
“Every player and every schedule is different,” he said. “We’ll have to assess, who it is, how many games they’ve played, how many days off they had in the last few months and treat it like this. Certainly, there is a plan in place for every player and then we’ll have to decide what to do.
“It’s not really different to any summer when you have European competitions or a World Cup in the summer, you start the pre-season and there are six, seven, sometimes 10 players not participating because they played competitions with the national team.
“Here, it’s going to be the same, the thing is that the turnaround after the World Cup to the first game, which is a competitive game, is really, really short.”