The final of four matches of this year’s Emirates Cup set for the last weekend in July will be a clash of Arsenal FC and Sevilla FC. We should expect a sunny afternoon in London on Sunday, July the 30th, but what is more certain is some attractive football to be played at the Emirates Stadium when these two top sides meet.
Arsenal, the tournament’s hosts, will be looking to set their season to a flying start by beating the Andalusia club and winning their fifth trophy. Sevilla, on the other hand, will take part in the Emirates Cup for the first time, but being already established as one of the Primera’s strongest teams and a regular contestant in European competitions, the Spaniards surely won’t take the tournament simply as a chance to prepare for the new season.
Sevilla FC enjoyed a relatively successful European campaign, when they reached the last 16 of Champions League, just like Arsenal, where they were eliminated by Leicester City. Unlike Gunners though, the side from Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium can compete at the top level next season as well, provided that they pass the last qualifying round. This is their top priority at the moment, since the club had abundance of Europa League glory, winning the competition record five times and three in a row (2014-16).
However, Sevillistas will have some adapting to do in between two seasons, because the coach Jorge Sampaoli left the club after just one year in charge, jumping to the opportunity to lead the Argentina national team. Very soon he was replaced with countryman Eduardo Berizzo from Celta Vigo. The Argentinian lead Celta to semifinals of Europa League last term applying similar coaching style to Sampaoli’s and is expected to take over where he left off and keep improving the team.
Berizzo could therefore deploy a 5-4-1 or similar defensive system against Arsenal, that Sampaoli regularly used against sides who play possession football and dominate the midfield. Sevilla have a very strong and physical team with the likes of Adil Rami, Nicolas Pareja, Gabriel Mercado and Steven N’Zonzi, that the crowd at the Emirates will be familiar with, since he spent six seasons playing in England (that is if he remains at the club, since Juventus is after him). That is their approach too, but the midfielders and forwards are quite technically gifted as well and can cause damage in no time when given even a little space. The White and Reds are concrete once they attack and should be looking to hurt Arsenal from counter-attacks.
The North Londoners’ manager Arsene Wenger has signaled he will continue with the 3-4-3 formation (that sometimes looks like a 3-4-2-1) that proved successful in the final part of the last season and try to perfect it even more ahead of new campaign. Still, he may use this opportunity to test a couple of more systems, or even make shifts during the game. Arsenal will certainly see a lot of the ball, but it will be difficult to break Sevilla’s defense unless they are sharp and precise with their one-two combinations.
Both sides should present some new players to the audience because they’re currently in the hunt for recruitments, especially for the offensive part of the team. Arsenal are doing everything to keep their top assets, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, but are also expected to bring probably one more big name before the season starts, hopefully before the Emirates Cup. One new face will be there, however, in the shape of ‘Bosnian Hulk’ Sead Kolašinac. The left full-back should bring power and improve crossing statistics of Wenger’s team in particular. A lot of players that came back from loans will try and impose themselves if they get a chance, along with some young and interesting prospects: Joel Campbell, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Jon Toral, Chuba Akpom, Calum Chambers, Ben Sheaf, Christopher Willock.
On the other side, Sevilla will find it hard to keep a hold of forward Stevan Jovetić who’s returned to Inter after a year-long loan spell and his price tag seems to be too much for the Spain club. It’s similar with former Arsenal player Samir Nasri, whose high salary is a turn-off. But, they will bolster the squad imminently and some classy names are being connected with the Great of Andalusia.
All in all, the Arsenal vs Seville game should keep fans at the Emirates Stadium well entertained with a big battle and fluent and dynamic play in the final game of this, already traditional, preseason tournament. At the end of the day, with its rules, Emirates Cup awards those who score.