Arsenal Touring Australia in 2017, Playing Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers

09/12/2015 8:40 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny goes down after a challenge from Sunderland’s Ola Toivonen during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday Dec. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Arsenal is coming. The team which according to one poll is the second most-loved English Premier League club in Australia will tour down under for two pre-season friendly matches.

That's the good news, football fans. The bad news is that you'll have to wait for 2017. And if you don't live in Sydney, you'll have to travel.

Both games will take place in the harbour city -- one against Sydney FC and the other against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Numerous high profile EPL and European clubs have toured Australia in recent years. Here's Liverpool visiting the MCG in 2013, when a crowd of 95,000 fans which commentators described as a "pulsating swathe of red" belted out Liverpool's signature song You'll Never Walk Alone.

But Arsenal, which is known for not travelling as much as other EPL clubs, has not been to Australia for 40 years. Fans can expect to see stars of the calibre of Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech in action, as the Gunners build towards the 2017-18 English Premier League campaign.

Arsenal last toured in 1977, when they beat the Socceroos 3-1. Its match against the Wanderers will be the first time the relatively new Western Sydney team has played a high-profile foreign club in a home friendly game.

An official announcement about the Arsenal tour will happen at 11 am Wednesday, but this cat is well truly out of the bag. And people are rather excited to say the least.

It is! It is!

Decisions, decisions. We called the above gentleman. His full name is Nilo Dutta and he's a 22-year-old uni student and Arsenal tragic, who also helps run a Sydney-based Arsenal supporters club which has 1,400 members.

Dutta fell in love with the Gunners during the 2003/04 EPL season when they claimed the Premier League crown with an undefeated campaign.

"Growing up with my Indian heritage I was always into cricket," Dutta explains. "But when I saw how much passion the players had, how they were all playing for each other on the pitch, and when I got learning more about the club, its ethos and the principles of the manager, the overall picture deeply entrenched my love for Arsenal."

Today, Dutta rarely misses an Arsenal game. He and the members of his supporters group have an arrangement with local club, Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, to go in and watch games at some extremely nocturnal hours. Last year, when Arsenal won the FA Cup, they had 800 in there making all sorts of noise.

But that's nothing compared to what'll happen in 2017.

"We’re so excited. To see the boys play on the pitch is something a lot of us will struggle ever to get the opportunity to do. It means so much to us. It really is a dream come true."

Meanwhile, it's going to be a long two years of clock-watching for respected ABC sportscaster Debbie Spillane. We'll get there, Deb.

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