The Premier League season only ended several weeks ago, but attention has quickly turned to the summer. A busy period of world tours and friendly fixtures will be vital for the top sides as they look for a perfect preparation ahead of a hotly anticipated 2017/18 campaign.
Manchester United are one of several EPL teams that are competing in the 2017 International Champions Cup, an annual series of friendlies involving the world’s biggest sides organised as a mini tournament in the United States. The Red Devils will play Major League Soccer teams Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake in mid-July in preparation for the event before kicking off the tournament against local rivals Manchester City on 20 July in Houston.
Jose Mourinho will then face off against his former club and current Champions League winners Real Madrid three days later at the Levi’s Stadium. The venue drew almost 110,000 spectators for the same fixture three years ago, and the clash is expected to be the hottest ticket in town in Santa Clara, California, next month.
United’s recent tours have increased its brand recognition Stateside. United Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said the latest trip would enable the team to face “top-class opposition in world-class stadiums”.
He added: “Everybody is excited for the tour and it gives us the opportunity to play in front of some of the millions of Manchester United supporters which we have across the USA.”
United’s tour concludes with another huge clash, this time against Barcelona in Washington, DC, on 26 July. It will be possible to keep track of United’s adventures this summer, bet on big matches and play football-themed games at top casino sites.
Manchester City will also travel to the US in July to take part in the ICC. Pep Guardiola said he was pleased the team was invited to the event. The blue half of Manchester will get their campaign underway against United before taking on Real Madrid in Los Angeles on 16 July and Tottenham Hotspur on 29 July at the Nissan Stadium in Tennessee.
Tottenham Hotspur are now considered to be among England’s elite after back-to-back top-three finishes in the Premier League, and Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be sparring against familiar opponents in the US as they take on Man City in the ICC in late July. Spurs will also play Paris Saint-Germain (22 July) and Roma (25 July) during the tour.
While that trio will be heading west, current champions Chelsea and FA Cup winners Arsenal will travel east as they both attempt to increase their fan bases in Asia and beyond. The London rivals will meet in Beijing on 22 July, which will be a repeat of the showpiece fixture at Wembley just weeks ago that ended Blues boss Antonio Conte’s hopes of a league and cup double.
Chelsea will also take on Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on 25 July and Serie A giants Inter Milan on 29 July, with both fixtures set to play out at the National Stadium in Singapore.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are set to clock up a substantial number of air miles this summer as they begin their summer with games in Australia against Sydney FC (13 July) and Western Sydney Wanderers (15 July). They will then enjoy a four-day break before a clash with Bayern Munich in China. The game against Chelsea rounds out their world tour plans.
Liverpool secured Champions League football with a final-day win in May, and they will be one of four EPL sides competing in the biennial Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong in July. The Reds face Crystal Palace on 19 July and will then either advance to a final or a third-place play-off on 22 July.
Leicester City will also take part in the Premier League Asia Trophy and will get their brief tour in Hong Kong underway against West Bromwich Albion on 19 July. Craig Shakespeare’s men will then either play Liverpool or Crystal Palace in their second match at the Hong Kong Stadium three days later.
Long-haul tours are typically the domain of the country’s biggest teams, but Swansea City, who narrowly avoided relegation during the 2016/17 season, are joining several of the big boys with a ten-day training camp in the United States from 13 July.
The Swans won’t be competing in the ICC. Instead, they will hit the East Coast as they play MLS franchises Philadelphia Union (15 July), Richmond Kickers (19 July) and North Carolina (22 July).
Ronald Koeman’s Everton are also set to make history this summer by becoming the first Premier League team to compete in a fixture in East Africa. The Toffees will play either Gor Mahia or AFC Leopards at the Tanzania National Main Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania on 13 July as part of a recent sponsorship deal.
Long-haul preseason trips are now a common occurrence for the Premier League’s biggest teams as lucrative glamour friendlies increase exposure in foreign markets and enable them to interact and engage with loyal fan bases abroad. It also drives interest for new sponsorship deals.
Preparations closer to home
While Europe’s biggest sides embrace globetrotting during the summer months, a selection of other teams will be staying a little closer to home as they prepare for the upcoming season.
Stoke City will be making the relatively short trip to Switzerland to take part in the Uhrencup next month. Mark Hughes’ men have two fixtures lined up against Neuchatel Xamax on 10 July and Young Boys on 12 July, both of which are set for the Tissot Arena in the Biel/Bienne district.
“We are delighted to have been invited to take part in such a prestigious competition,” Stoke Chief Executive Tony Scholes said last month. “We are looking forward to two tough games against decent opposition at a very early stage of our pre-season preparation.”
Several teams will be staying at home this summer, with Bournemouth, Southampton, Watford and new boys Newcastle United and Huddersfield all opting to focus on fitness with friendlies in the UK in July and early August ahead of the Premier League season opener on August 12.