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With expectations high among Gunners after last season's FA Cup win and the capture of Alexis Sanchez, Al Hain-Cole is backing them to deliver when they take on a depleted team

Arsenal enter the final stretch of their pre-season preparations by taking on Benfica in their opening Emirates Cup clash on Saturday.

The Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat against New York Red Bulls last weekend but are 5/6 (1.83) favourites with Paddy Power to record a morale-boosting win back on home turf.

Their opponents have also suffered a number of friendly defeats against Ajax, Marseille and Lisbon neighbours Sporting recently, but are priced at 3/1 (4.00) to come out on top and 5/2 (3.50) to earn themselves a draw.

The atmosphere around the Emirates is sure to one of excitement when Arsene Wenger’s men take to their home field for the first time since last season, thanks largely to the high profile signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

Having broken their decade-long barren spell with an FA Cup triumph last season, there is a growing sense of optimism that Wenger’s side are ready to mount a serious assault on the Premier League title this campaign.

While bemoaning the lack of preparation time afforded to him by the World Cup and American tour, the French boss admitted that the hard work starts now if they are to live up to such heady expectations.

The hosts should be as near to full fitness as possible after spending a week at an Austrian training camp since returning from the USA, and will be keen to impress against a Benfica team that have lost a number of important players since last season’s historic treble.

Jorge Jesus’ team have looked rather flat so far this summer without the likes of Ezequiel Garay, Jan Oblak, Rodrigo and Lazar Markovic, failing even to find the net against in two of their three exhibition matches on home soil.

While there is the distinct impression that the Portuguese champions are already at the end of a successful cycle, Arsenal appear only just to be entering a new period of prosperity, and those 5/6 (1.83) odds are well worth backing on them proving that in front of an expectant home crowd.

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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