SYDNEY • Arsenal are well known for their patient build-up play. But the English Premier League giants have taken a different approach for next year's Arsenal in Sydney Tour.
With 12 months to go till they take on A-League football sides Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, the Gunners have already started drumming up excitement in New South Wales (NSW).
Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg was in town for the last three days as part of a whirlwind visit to promote the club's pre-season friendlies.
And he joined NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, Sydney FC captain Alex Brosque and Wanderers assistant coach Hayden Foxe yesterday in marking a year-long countdown to the Tour.
Arsenal will play Sydney FC on July 13 next year and the Wanderers two days later.
Tickets for both matches at the ANZ Stadium will go on sale next Tuesday.
Mr Ayres expects the Arsenal Tour to attract more than 28,000 domestic and international visitors, including Gunners fans from Singapore. They are expected to spend over A$18.6 million (S$19.1 million).
Arsenal follow fellow Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in venturing to Sydney in recent years.
"To have a club like Arsenal come out with the quality of the players that they have is fantastic for a club like us," Brosque said.
"We're excited, it's still a year away, but to have the hype already starting is definitely exciting for us."
Images of Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud are on billboards outside the airport and in the city. But it is former midfielder Ljungberg who has been generating the most buzz.
A video of his visit to Taronga Zoo on Wednesday has been viewed by about 300,000 people on Facebook.
The Arsenal ambassador also watched NSW defeat Queensland in the NRL (National Rugby League) State of Origin Game III, visited the Greater Blue Mountains Area, and met some 100 Arsenal supporters in a fan engagement event this week.
Arsenal have not visited Australia since 1977 and he believes the club have a responsibility to go to different parts of the world.
"We are a global brand. We have fans all over the world and it's a way for us to get closer to them and to show how grateful we are that someone is supporting us from the other side of the world," he said.
Gunner have fun in NSW
Destination NSW is New South Wales' (NSW) tourism and major events agency and Arsenal's official tourism partner. NSW is Australia's most popular destination, with plenty to see and do. Here are the key attractions Gunners fans can visit when they attend the Arsenal in Sydney Tour next July.
It is home to over 4,000 animals, with more than 350 species, including the kangaroo and the koala. Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg visited on Wednesday and called it the highlight of his three-day visit.
"To sit and get a kangaroo coming up to me and holding my lap - wanting to almost have a cuddle was a bit special for me," said the London-based Swede during his first trip to Sydney.
"It was on my bucket list."
He also went to the Bird Amphitheatre, which offers panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Take a tour or catch a performance at one of the world's most iconic buildings.
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE
Walking along the pedestrian walkway on the bridge is free. But you can pay to climb it and enjoy a unique view of Sydney. Climbs are available at dawn, during the day, at twilight or in the evening.
SKYWALK AT THE SYDNEY TOWER EYE
Step out onto a glass-floor viewing platform 268m above the streets of Sydney for 360-degree views.
Join a walking tour, swim, or learn to surf at Sydney's best-known beach.
GREATER BLUE MOUNTAINS AREA
This Unesco World Heritage Site is less than two hours from Sydney by car or train.
Stop at Echo Point to view the famous Three Sisters sandstone rock formation (below).
Visit Scenic World in Katoomba to enjoy panoramic views of the eucalyptus forests, waterfalls, valleys and rugged sandstone tablelands by cable car or railway.
Explore the ancient caverns of Jenolan Caves and discover limestone crystal and underground rivers deep within the mountains.