The beginning of London 2012 may have been the headline news in recent days, but Premier League clubs were also in friendly action over the weekend, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Stoke City, Swansea City and Wigan Athletic all stepping up their preparations for the new campaign.
Perhaps the plum fixture on Saturday was the meeting of current Champions League holders Chelsea and seven-time European champions AC Milan in Miami, with the Italians coming out on top thanks to a solitary second-half strike from Dutchman Urby Emanuelson. The 1-0 loss was Chelsea’s second consecutive defeat after the Blues went down 3-2 to the MLS All Stars in midweek.
Two Premier League clubs also faced each other in America, with Tottenham and Liverpool playing out a 0-0 draw in Baltimore that was noticeable mainly for a nasty challenge by the Reds’ Charlie Adam on Spurs winger Gareth Bale, which left both the Welshman and his manager Andre Villas-Boas critical of Adam.
Stoke City and Swansea were also in the US: the Potters beating Orlando City 1-0 in Florida with a Jon Walters strike, while the Swans overcame Californian side Ventura County Fusion by the same scoreline thanks to a goal from Luke Moore.
Newcastle played their second game in as many days on Saturday evening, but still managed to emerge triumphant as the Magpies beat ten-man Braga 2-1 in the Algarve in Portugal.
Demba Ba opened the scoring, knocking in the rebound after his penalty had been saved, only for Ruben Amorim to level four minutes later. But Ryan Taylor scored a late winner for the Toon, who followed up their 1-1 draw with Olympiakos 24 hours earlier with an impressive win.
Arsenal continued their tour of Asia with a 2-2 draw against Hong Kong champions Kitchee. Yago Gonzalez Lopez gave the hosts an early lead which was cancelled out by Theo Walcott before Daniel Cancela Rodriguez put Kitchee back in front before half-time. Thomas Eisfeld equalised late on for the Gunners, who now travel back to the UK with questions about Robin van Persie’s future high on the agenda.
Newly-promoted Southampton were back on home turf after a short trip to France, but their return to St. Mary’s ended in defeat against Dutch champions Ajax. Frank de Boer’s side beat the Saints with a second-half Aras Ozbiliz strike, though manager Nigel Adkins said he was pleased with the test Ajax gave his team.
Finally, Wigan rounded off a tour of Austria with a 1-1 draw against German club Hoffenheim. Despite Mathieu Delpierre cancelling out a Mauro Boselli strike – the Argentine’s third goal in as many pre-season games – the Latics leave Austria ahead of the club’s eighth consecutive season in the Premier League.
With less than three weeks to go until the start of the new campaign, all clubs are now reaching the vital part of pre-season, with most sides back in action towards the end of the week.
New customers can register here to claim a free £20 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwin