With the exception of the season itself, pre-season is the most important period in the football calendar. Back of the Net's Paul Watson looks through a mouth-watering summer fixture list and picks out the highlights...
St Mary's Stadium has already played host to the much anticipated Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup, that saw EuropeÃ¢ÂÂs top clubs Arsenal, Anderlecht and Southampton go head-to-head-to-head for the trophy. Arsene Wenger's side were ultimately victorious, securing the silverware Gunners fans had long dreamed of.
Ã¢ÂÂIf your players arenÃ¢ÂÂt up for the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup, then why are they footballers?Ã¢ÂÂ Wenger told FourFourTwo.com.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs not every day you get to play against a newly-promoted Premier League side and the Belgian champions in 45-minute matches on the same day in memory of a Swiss businessman who saved Southampton from bankruptcy for some reason.Ã¢ÂÂ
Aside from their double-date on the south coast, newly promoted Southampton didnÃ¢ÂÂt manage to arrange any friendlies in time, but the players will be coming along on the Adkins family holiday to the south of France, where they are expected to have a kick-around with some locals or at least play keepie-uppie on the beach.
Two teams who'll be travelling slightly further are Liverpool and Tottenham. The Premier League pair will both be making the pointless 7,000 mile round-trip to Baltimore to face-off at the M&T Bank Stadium, then tweet a few photographs of street corners and drug dens made famous by award-winning HBO drama series, The Wire.
A Liverpool XI will then visit Ireland on August 5. No squad has been selected as yet but the club have made assurances that none of the players will be the actual ones you get during the season and at least one of them will be Jonjo Shelvey.
West Bromwich Albion travel to Ilfracombe on July 19 to play against nine men called Nigel.
Champions Manchester City, meanwhile, will warm-up for the defence of their Premier League crown by leading an invasion of China. The all-conquering Citizens are aiming to continue their dominant form by subjugating and annexing Hainan Province, which will be repurposed as a 13,000 square-mile megastore.
Roberto ManciniÃ¢ÂÂs men can expect a tough test but the likes of Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli should be too much for the southern regionÃ¢ÂÂs 8.6m inhabitants to deal with.
As ever, pre-season culminates in the Community Shield on August 12. This seasonÃ¢ÂÂs contest is between Chelsea and Manchester City Ã¢ÂÂ the winners will be presented with the famous shield, if Manchester United can remember where they left it after last yearÃ¢ÂÂs victory.
Editor's note: this isn't a serious accusation and all quotes are fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.
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