IT has been a long season for Arsenal. And an equally long journey to
Malaysia at the end of it on Sunday when they beat Aston Villa 1-0 at
Still, you can expect the best from the Gunners despite surrendering
their League title to Manchester United when they play Malaysia in a
friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tonight.
"We have had a long season, missed out on the League title and travelled
a long way after our match on Sunday to be here. But the team will
definitely play with concentration and motivation against Malaysia," said
team manager Arsene Wenger at a press conference on arrival in Malaysia
yesterday evening with his cosmopolitan team. Only Dutch striker, Dennis
Bergkamp who fears flying, was missing.
"Of course the players are tired from the long season and the journey
here and are down after failing to win the title but we are not here on a
"We will play our normal brand of soccer and give a good game."
Skipper Tony Adams when told there have been speculations Arsenal are on
a holiday here, replied: "I will look for the fella who said that."
Wenger said: "We will certainly not disappoint the Malaysian fans.
"We always play to win and it is not going to be any different here."
Arsenal ended only one point behind United on Sunday and did not fare
any worse than last season when they won the coveted double - the League
and the FA Cup.
Arsenal lost out to Manchester United in the semifinals of the FA Cup
which was one of the highlights of this season.
In the Premiership, the Gunners attained the 78 points which won them
the title last season and conceded only 17 goals in 38 games.
And this despite their back four being no younger than 32.
The Arsenal defence comprises veterans Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee
Dixon Steve Bould and Martin Keown who have mostly been at the club for
the past decade.
And with the likes of French internationals Emmanuel Peti, Nicolas
Anelka and Patrick Vieira, Dutch star Marc Overmars, Nigeria's Nwankwo
Kanu and experienced keeper David Seaman, Malaysian fans are indeed in for
a treat tonight.
FACTS ON THE CHIEF GUNNERS
* DAVID SEAMAN'S middle name is Andrew and he has broken Jack Kelsey's
club record of 353 appearances for a keeper last year.
* Rightback Lee Dixon hopes to have his testimonial match this year.
* Tony Adams is the most successful skipper in the club's 113-year
* Martin Keown joined Arsenal in Oct 1980 as a schoolboy, when Nicolas
Anelka was less than two years old.
* Argentine Nelson Vivas is the shortest player in the squad at 1.66m.
* Senegal-born Patrick Vieira remains the youngest skipper in the French
first division. He captained his first club Cannes at the age of 18 in
* Midfielder Emmanuel Petit earned his first international cap at the
age of 19 - courtesy of the then French coach Michel Platini - at
* In a truly cosmopolitan side, Ray Parlour and Adams are genuine local
lads who were both born in Romford, a few kilometres away from Highbury.
* In a research carried out by the football simulation computer game FA
Premier League Football Manager '99, Marc Overmars outpaced his rivals in
the speed section, based on acceleration, speed from standing starts,
flatout sprint and pace running with the ball, obtaining the maximum
points of 30.
* Tallest in the squad is Nigerian showman Nwankwo Kanu who stands at
1.97m, taller even than the three custodians Seaman, Alex Manninger and
* For a player considered the French attacking saviour, Anelka buys his
own boots. It is learnt that Adidas, Nike and Puma are still hunting for
* Manager Arsene Wenger who played for Mutzig, Mulhouse and Strasbourg,
graduated from Strasbourg University with a masters degree in Economics in