Arsenal have confirmed their first pre-season fixture of the summer will take place against Rangers as they step up preparations for next season.
In previous years, the Gunners have travelled all over the club to warm up for their campaigns in the UK, visiting destinations as far Singapore, Australia and the USA.
However, due to travel restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19 they had to stay far more local in the build-up to this campaign, playing warm-up matches against MK Dons, Charlton and Brentford last August.
And now it looks as though that trend will continue as the club confirmed that Mikel Arteta’s side will be travelling north of the border to take on Rangers at Ibrox in Glasgow.
The game is set to take place on July 17 and will be a commemorative friendly to mark the Gers 150th anniversary.
It will be the first time the two have met since they played each other in the Emirates Cup back in 2009 and Mikel Arteta admitted he is excited by the prospect of returning the stadium where he spent two years as a player.
“We’re looking forward to travelling to Ibrox as part of our preparations for the 2021/22 season,” he said.
“I enjoyed two incredible seasons at Rangers and cannot wait to return to Glasgow and feel the incredible Ibrox atmosphere from the touchline.
“It will be a great pre-season test against Steven Gerrard’s reigning Scottish champions. We’re also proud to commemorate the long friendship between the two clubs by playing a part in their 150th anniversary celebrations.”
COVID restrictions in England are expected to have been lifted by the time the fixture comes around meaning fans could be in attendance for the fixture.
But Rangers confirmed on their website that only home fans will be allowed in as things stand due to Scottish protocols, although that could be subject to change.
The Scottish champions have formed something of a close bond with Arsenal in recent weeks after the Gunners players chose to take the knee in the face of Slavia Prague’s players after Ondrej Kudela was banned for 10 matches for racially abusing Glen Kamara who himself came through the Hale End academy.
Alexandre Lacazette in particular was clear in his message, choosing to position himself right in front of Czech champions’ players who elected to stand before kick-off instead.
Speaking after the match Mikel Arteta revealed the initiative to make the statement had come from the players themselves.
“Yeah, they (the players) asked me and the club that they wanted to take that initiative and they had the right reasons for it so the club was very supportive. I was supportive,” he said.
“Thankfully the referees and UEFA as well they’ve been supportive so it was a great gesture.”
The gesture was appreciated by Rangers boss Steven Gerrard who came out to praise the Gunners’ display in their 4-0 victory over Slavia on Thursday night.
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“I loved everything about Arsenal’s performance,” the former Liverpool midfielder said.
“I admired their approach before the game, during the game and after it.
“The way players and manager spoke and then to back it up with that performance.”