Despite Manchester City’s disappointment in Europe last season, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has described them as one of the best teams in the continent.
City clinched the Premier League title in dramatic fashion two months ago on the last day of the 2011-12 campaign to put an early Champions League elimination well behind them.
The Gunners, meanwhile, finished in third and completed a seventh straight season without winning any silverware.
When the two clubs meet in Beijing for a friendly in a matter of a few days, Szczesny has reminded his teammates to use the Citizens as a benchmark for quality.
“I think it’s important [to understand] in the first place that we get to play against quality opponents. Man City are one of the best teams in Europe and it’s good that during the pre-season we get to test ourselves against a team like that,” Szczesny told Arsenal Player.
When asked to comment on the famous venue of the match, the 22-year old added: “I’ve never seen the ‘Bird’s Nest’ so I don’t know what it is like. But I’m looking forward to playing there and, hopefully, even though it is only a friendly, we manage to beat them.”
Szczesny was one of the many Gunners who exited this summer’s Euro 2012 earlier than expected but it is obvious that returning to Asia with his club is what he is now focused on.
“The highlight for me last year was realizing how many fans we have so far away from the UK. We were shocked really, we didn’t expect anything like it,” Szczesny explained.
The Pole continued: “We thought we were going to be there for a nice trip, play a couple of games, have a few training sessions, and that’s it, but people were outside the hotel 24/7.
“It gives you the idea of how big a club this is and it’s something that stuck in my mind. In every training session just one single good move from a single player gets the fans going.
“They’re very positive and as I said we enjoyed the trip because of that, because of the fans. That’s what we are looking forward to again,” he concluded.