Wenger highlights need for a strong start
Arsene Wenger intends to follow his tried and trusted pre-season campaign - but knows Arsenal must not get off to another slow start if they are to mount a challenge for the Barclays Premier League title. There are expected to be one or two new faces, and perhaps not some of the old ones, when the Gunners squad reassemble at London Colney on July 6. A club of Arsenal's stature and global brand would always find welcome hosts for what could be a lucrative foreign trip in the build-up to the 2009-10 campaign, which starts on August 15 and will roll on to the World Cup in South Africa. Wenger, though, prefers to focus on finalising the team's preparations at a secluded Austrian training camp before returning home to the Emirates Cup on August 1/2, set to also feature Scottish champions Rangers. However, there is also the small matter of a Champions League qualifier to safely negotiate. Next season that comes after the opening round of domestic fixtures and will see Arsenal among one of the seeded 'best-placed' teams, but who could yet face Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon, Celtic or even Steve McClaren's FC Twente, whom they beat en route to the group stages last year. Wenger accepts Arsenal cannot afford another slow start, when five defeats from the first 14 games all but ended their title bid before it had a chance to get going. "We will have the same structure as normal to pre-season this summer," insisted the Arsenal manager, whose start their preparations for the new campaign on July 18 with the now traditional trip to Barnet. "We will have progressive training and the training camp in Austria and then the Emirates Cup as usual, then we want to be ready to start the new season."
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