ARSENAL’S visit to Town comes between clashes with Euro powers Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam.
But tonight’s centenary celebration match at the Galpharm (7.00) will still have plenty of meaning for Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman who is his club’s most successful-ever manager has a keen interest in football history, so will appreciate the game’s dedication to Herbert Chapman, who built triple title winning teams at both Town and Arsenal.
And as he looks to the future, Wenger will have a keen eye on how his players perform in what is their seventh pre-season run-out.
The 58-year-old, in charge since 1996, is desperate to win a first trophy since old adversaries Manchester United were beaten on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup final in Cardiff.
The last of his three Premier League crowns was collected the year before and despite having Euro 2008 winner Cesc Fabregas to call on, Wenger, who can boast two doubles and has collected the FA Cup four times in all, appears to have his work cut out if United, Chelsea and Liverpool are to be overhauled.
Arsenal, whose budget is well below those of their keenest rivals, have lost the expertise and experience of midfielders Gilberto Silva, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini as well as goalkeeper Jens Lehmann from the squad who finished third last time around.
Keeping hold of last season’s 30-goal African ace Emmanuel Adebayor, who is due to put pen to paper on a new contract said to be worth £65,000 a week, is a big boost.
So too would be the capture of Gareth Barry or Xabi Alonso, who have both been linked with the North Londoners.
So far Arsenal’s close-season signings have been relatively lower-key – youngsters Samir Nasri (from Marseille), Amaury Bischoff (Werder Bremen) and Aaron Ramsey (Cardiff).
And supporters are hoping Wenger, who has proved himself something of an alchemist by bringing in the likes of Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Gael Clichy and Fabregas as virtual unknowns and turning them into household names, can create gold again.
Fans will also be hoping for continued development from Theo Walcott, while fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere, 16, has underlined his precocious talents with a string of bright pre-season displays, earning himself a first-team squad spot in the process.
Arsenal’s build-up began with a 2-1 win at Barnet on July 19, the same day Town kicked off with a 1-1 draw at Bury.
A training camp in Austria included a 1-1 draw with Hungarian side Szombathelyi and a 10-2 drubbing of hosts Burgenland.
The Gunners then moved on to Germany, where Stuttgart were beaten 3-1 a week ago, before the club’s own Emirates Cup tournament brought a 1-0 defeat by Juventus and a victory by the same scoreline against Madrid, when Adebayor celebrated his new deal by slotting a penalty winner.
After tonight’s match it’s onto Holland, where Arsenal defend the Amsterdam Trophy with games against Ajax on Friday and Sevilla on Saturday.
The real business gets under way with the Champions League qualifying round first leg clash with Steve McClaren’s Twente Enschede back in the Netherlands on Tuesday before West Brom visit the Emirates for Saturday week’s Premier League opener.