Gunners duo aching to get started

Part three of The Straits Times’ Barclays Asia Trophy countdown featuring fans gearing up to welcome their football heroes

Injuries decimated his first season at Arsenal but Mathieu Debuchy is determined to use the Barclays Asia Trophy as a platform to launch himself back in contention for the upcoming domestic season.

He had started last term as the Gunners' first-choice right-back but an ankle injury and dislocated shoulder right after returning saw him lose his place to young Spaniard Hector Bellerin.

"It was a hard year and I need to do some hard training to be fit for the first game," the 29-year-old French international said.

The intensive pre-season work also brings the players back from holiday mode as Arsenal attempt to wrest the Premier League title from London rivals Chelsea.

Last season, the Gunners finished third, 12 points behind Chelsea, and won the FA Cup.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is already aching from a first week of "hell" back at the club's base in London Colney.

"It's a lot of running, crying, sore muscles, painful massages - it's horrible but this is my sixth pre-season, including Southampton, now and you get used to it," the 21-year-old midfielder said.

He noted that apart from the rigorous fitness regimen, playing fellow Premier League opposition in the biennial Barclays Asia Trophy will also help the 13-time champions hit the ground running when they take on West Ham at home in the season opener on Aug 9.

"Playing Premier League teams like Everton or Stoke, whoever it may be, is a good test for us and will get us back to where we need to be," he said.

While Debuchy spoke of his excitement at making his maiden trip to Singapore, Oxlade-Chamberlain relishes the chance to entertain the fans with Arsenal's famous slick, passing football.

The England midfielder said: "Every time we've been to Asia, the support has been amazing.

"You see that fanatical support, sometimes for you personally and sometimes for the club, and it really does take you by surprise.

"Hopefully, the people will give us a nice welcome, and hopefully when we're there, we can put on a nice show for them as well."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline 'Gunners duo aching to get started'. Print Edition | Subscribe