Good morning, and welcome to Sports Mole
's live commentary from the Far East, where Arsenal
take on Nagoya Grampus
So far so good for Arsenal on their summer tour. They've played two games, scored 14 times and conceded just one. A number of the club's young talents such as Gedion Zelalem, Thomas Eisfeld and Chuba Akpom are all impressing, while the Gunners big boys in the form of players such as Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are also hitting form.
The North London battered Indonesia XI 7-0
earlier this month before cruising past Vietnam 7-1
Today, it's Nagoya Grampus of Japan for Arsenal, and many Gooners will recognise that name. That's because it was the last club of manager Arsene Wenger
before taking over at Highbury. The Frenchman spent a few seasons there before being recruited by David Dein to take the reigns at Arsenal. It's going to be an emotional and happy occasion for Wenger today.
The match in Nagoya also marks the return of local lad Ryo Miyaichi, who has been catching up with friends and family since touching down in his homeland. The young winger, who Arsenal have very high hopes for, will be looking to impress today, having sat out much of last season's loan spell at Wigan Athletic with injury. The Japanese Buzzsaw is lightning fast, so keep an eye on the former Feyenoord man.
Right, before we get into any more of the preview, let's take a look at Arsene Wenger's team selection for today.
ARSENAL XI: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey, Ryo, Giroud, Walcott
So let's dissect this Arsenal team.
With the injury to Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski gets another chance to shine and show what he is made of between the sticks. The latter was impressive when coming into the side against the likes of Bayern Munich last term before picking up an injury which cost him his place in the lineup. Fabianski will be desperate to try to reclaim his place ahead of his compatriot.
With injuries to Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, the back four almost picks itself. Bacary Sagna partners Per Mertesacker at centre-back, while English duo Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson occupy the full-back positions.
For those questioning the decision to move Sagna into the middle, he picked up the man of the match award when filling in there against Sunderland in the Premier League and was absolutely outstanding. He is comfortable in that position, but was it a one off? We shall find out.
The midfield trio will see Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey holding the fort while the 'Little Mozart' Tomas Rosicky will be given the license to roam in the hole.
Finally, the in-form Olivier Giroud will start as a lone centre forward, with Ryo Miyaichi and Theo Walcott on the wings. Giroud has already scored five times on the Arsenal tour of Asia, and will be keen to keep that run going today.
So that's the starting lineup, let's take a look at the Arsenal bench for today.
ARSENAL BENCH: Martinez, Miquel, Wilshere, Olsson, Aneke, Gnabry, Eisfeld, Zelalem, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Akpom
It's a very youthful Gunners bench, with Lukas Podolski the only player of a mature age in footballing terms. However, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have significant first-team experience.
The ones to watch on that substitutes bench though are firstly Gedion Zelalem, who has been touted as being better than Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere at his current age of just 16.
Thomas Eisfeld, another creative German, also deserves your attention, while the rapid Serge Gnabry is sure to catch your eye. Arsenal don't half have some impressive Germans in their ranks.
Having sported their brand new away kit in their last two fixtures, Arsenal will be back in their customary red and white today.
Grampus Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic played under Arsene Wenger for nearly two years during the Frenchman's reign at the J-League side back in 1995 and 1996. The Serbian now finds himself in charge of Grampus, and had a lot of nice things to say about his former boss.
"Arsene Wenger is the best example for a football manager.
"He is intelligent, he loves football - it's a real passion for him - and he's very loyal. He works for and loves his club 110%".
Arsene Wenger was equally full of praise for Stojkovic, who won Grampus' first-ever J-League title in 2010.
"He is a young manager, so we have lots of hope for him. He has his future in front of him. He's 48 and has had his first positive experience.
"I believe the next five or six years will decide the course of his career as a manager. As a player he obviously proved himself as one of the best.
"He has had a good start as a coach and now it's important that his next stage is a positive one, because a career is about continuity. He has had a strong start, now he must take advantage of that. He has made a reputation as a manager, now his next decision, his next step, will be important. But I believe he has the qualities for an exceptional career. I hope he achieves it."
So Arsenal are preparing to take centre stage in front of their wild Asian fan base, and they don't come much more crazy than this fellow.
What a nutter eh?!
It's 45 years since Arsenal last played in Japan, and they have sold out Grampus' 45,000 capacity stadium here today.
Just over 10 minutes to until kick off.
Today should be a much sterner test for Arsenal, they are facing a Grampus side who are halfway through their competitive season. They currently sit 12th out of 18 teams in the J-League but will be ready for their battle with the Gunners.
Grampus have won three of their last four games, with the latest of those coming last wednesday. They want a win again today.
And out come the two teams here, Arsenal being led out by captain Mikel Arteta.
Grampus are wearing black shirts, red shorts and red socks today.
Stojkovic and Wenger are both exchanging pendants, handshakes and posing for photos in the middle.
Giroud has five goals in 65 minutes of football of this tour so far. Not bad.
The atmosphere is electric inside the Toyota Stadium.
Apologies, Grampus are in fact wearing black shorts, and will have kick off.
GRAMPUS GET THE GAME UNDERWAY!
No chances as of yet, Arsenal have had all the ball though.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Nagoya Grampus (Olivier Giroud)
Who else but Olivier Giroud at the moment? He now has six goals in 68 minutes of football on this tour. Tomas Rosicky guns it down the right and whips in a wonderful cross which finds the head of Giroud and crashes into the top corner. Great goal, 1-0 Arsenal.
Walcott could have perhaps had a penalty there after running through a few players into the box. Would have been harsh though.
Giroud nearly had another chance there as it dropped for him at the corner, but the defence can scramble it away.
CHANCE! Ryo Miyaichi goes so close to getting the goal he wants in his hometown. The ball runs to Kieran Gibbs who whips in a cross with venom on the left. It deflects out to Walcott, who can knock the ball into the path of Miyaichi on the left of the box. He takes it first time with the outside of his boot across the face of goal, but it flashes just wide of the far post. Great effort, very unlucky.
All Arsenal at the moment, the ball nearly falls to Miyaichi in the box but the defence can clear just.
Aaron Ramsey does absolutely superbly to win the corner. Shows tenacity, pace and skill to win the ball back, hold off his man and earn a corner. He is very impressive at the moment.
Grampus having a spell of possession now after Sagna's poor pass, but Arsenal are pressing a lot trying to win it back.
A lot of chants for Olivier Giroud in the Toyota Stadium, he's a popular bloke.
Arsenal have a corner after Theo Walcott takes it past a number of Grampus players heading to the edge of the box, he is snuffed out eventually but Miyaichi wins the corner.
Rosicky has a pop from a long way out, and he can hit them from range. He takes this one from about 35 yards out, but it swerves away from the top right corner.
CHANCE! Worrying moments for Arsenal as Grampus float around the box. Ramsey looks to have got it clear with an interception but the Japanese outfit come back. Kennedy nutmegs Mertesacker and moves into space inside the box, but Sagna comes to the rescue with an important sliding challenge. Great play from the French international.
Sagna does offer that pace in the middle of the defence, and he is very solid as well. Could see a lot more of him there this season.
Ramsey is an absolute workhorse, he is everywhere at the moment. His improvement over the past year has been second to none.
PENALTY TO ARSENAL!
Arsenal have a chance to double their lead now. Giroud is played in down the right of the box and he looks to pass inside to Miyaichi, but the hand stretches out from the defender and gives away a handball.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Nagoya Grampus (Ryo Miyaichi)
A massive cheer goes up as local lad Miyaichi steps up to take it. He goes for the left corner, which the keeper guess, but he absolutely blasts it into the back of the net with extreme power. Great spotkick, 2-0 Arsenal.
That Miyaichi penalty has gone down very well with this Japanese crowd.
Arsenal will some lovely play at the moment, with Gibbs and Walcott combining with Ramsey, who gets a round of applause from the home crowd after his terrific trickery to keep the ball.
Nearly an opportunity for Arsenal from the corner, as the keeper comes rushing out to collect it. He is met by Miyaichi and Sagna, but the ball flies past all three of them to the far side.
CHANCE! Arsenal should have a third as it finds Theo Walcott. He does very well to make the space for himself and tries to slot it past the keeper, but he can block it with his legs to clear.
CHANCE! Grampus have a shot from the edge of the box but it is miles over. One for the stats I guess.
Theo Walcott goes running down the middle. He doesn't have any options, and looks to check back onto his right foot. The defender reads it easily though and can make the tackle.
Arsenal hovering on the edge of the box, passing it about. Grampus have practically everyone back. What's Japanese for 'Park the Bus'?
Into the final five minutes of this first half, can Arsenal find a third?
Grampus have a great chance as a cross falls to free man at the far post, but the touch is poor and Fabianski can hold.
CHANCE! Grampus should have a goal back here. They play a lovely man from the middle which gets Mertesacker and Sagna in a tangle. The shot is painfully scuffed though by Danilson. Sagna has a scream at Jenkinson, who failed to track the runner.
HALF TIME: Arsenal 2-0 Nagoya Grampus
Good half from Arsenal until the final few minutes. Ticking along like clockwork. Great early header from Giroud, followed by a smashing penalty from Miyaichi to give them the lead.
Rosicky, Ramsey and Gibbs have all also been impressive, while Sagna looks solid at the back. Expecting a number of changes at the break.
Arsenal are back out here, and it does look as if they have made a few changes.
Ryo Miyaichi looks to have made way, and I think Gedion Zelalem has been put on.
Podolski is on too.
ARSENAL GET US UNDERWAY FOR THE SECOND HALF!
Jack Wilshere is also on, I will confirm the changes for you when I can.
Serge Gnabry is also on, looks to be the four changes for Arsenal then.
CHANCE! Grampus have the first chance of the half, as Kennedy flicks the header on at the near post and it flashes just wide of the far post.
ARSENAL SUBSTITUTIONS Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Ryo Miyaichi and Olivier Giroud all made way at the break for Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem, Serge Gnabry and Lukas Podolski.
CHANCE! Why oh why didn't Theo Walcott look up then?! Arsenal had four on one in their favour down the right. Podolski was one of the players waiting in the middle, but Walcott just hit a low cross straight at the only defender.
CHANCE! Walcott in their again after a lovely pass from Wilshere. Walcott hits it on the half-volley from the right of the box and forces a tidy save from the keeper at his near post.
CHANCE! What an effort from Serge Gnabry and this would be a wondergoal. He picks it up on the left, uses stepovers to go past the first defender, shimmies past the second and curls a ball towards the top corner, but it goes just over the bar. Special try.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 Nagoya Grampus (Theo Walcott)
Wonderful goal from Arsenal. Gedion Zelalem, who I told you to keep your eyes on, plays a super pass inside the full-back to Walcott, who stays onside, draws out the keeper, and slots home to make it 3-0.
Arsenal must be home and dry now.
CHANCE! Ah it's nearly a brilliant finish from Gibbs. Wilshere plays in Walcott down the right who swings in a ball to Gibbs at the far post, but it comes off the outside of his boot and hits the side-netting.
ARSENAL SUBSTITUTION Kieran Gibbs comes off and is replaced by the young Spaniard Ignasi Miquel.
CHANCE! Wilshere forces a great save from the keeper after smashing a Theo Walcott through ball across the face of goal on the left of the box. Podolski, who was in the centre, wanted that one.
Grampus are playing some nice stuff at the moment, but their neat passing is lacking a final effort. Jack Wilshere on hand to prod the ball back to Fabianski during the latest move from the home side.
CHANCE! Brilliant little chip from Wilshere in the middle to find Walcott, who breaks free once more, his attempted lob is stopped by the keeper, who isn't having a bad game.
Chuks Aneke is getting ready to come on for Arsenal. The 20-year-old had a successful loan spell at Crewe Alexandra last season, and is usually a midfielder but can also play in defence.
Chuba Akpom, who has three goals in his last two games on this tour, is also being readied.
ARSENAL SUBSTITUTIONS Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey have made way for Chuks Aneke and Chuba Akpom.
So Aneke slots into his usual position in the centre of midfield.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-1 Nagoya Grampus (Kisho Yano)
The hosts have a goal and it's a lovely one from Yano. Takana puts in a good ball from the right and Yano leaps like a salmon at the near post to guide the ball into the top corner. Fabianski was close, but he couldn't quite reach the header.
CHANCE! Wow, this Zelalem is the real deal. Arsenal come forward through Gnabry but take a while to get an effort on goal. Akpom makes a good run in the box, and Zelalem finds him with an outstanding reverse pass with the outside of his boot to hook it into the path of Akpom. The angle doesn't favour the forward, and it goes wide of goal.
Despite conceding a goal, Arsenal are still firmly in control and look as if they could easily add another. Grampus do have a lot pace on the break though, and have looked dangerous in parts.
The game is starting to go a bit quiet now, Grampus seem to have run out of steam. Arsenal walking it about now.
CHANCE! Grampus stretch Arsenal's backline and have a three-on-three situation, the ball makes its way to the edge of the box but the shot lacks any power and is food and drink for Fabianski.
This has been a decent test for Arsenal, both attackingly and defensively, but they have been by far and away the better side.
Lovely build up by Arsenal, including a back heel from Gnabry, ends with the ball at the feet at Zelalem. He tries to bend it in with the laces from the left, but his shot curls over the bar.
Into added time now, I shouldn't imagine there will be much.
FULL TIME: Arsenal 3-1 Nagoya Grampus
Well that's it, a good warm-up match for Arsenal that has tested them at both ends today. They were brilliant in parts, and displayed the strength in youth that they possess.
Giroud, Miyaichi and Walcott with the goals for Arsenal, Yano with a late reply for the hosts.
Next up for Arsenal is the final match of their Asia tour when they face Urawa Red Diamonds on Friday.
That's it from me today though, I hope you enjoyed the game, I'll see you soon.