Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale showed why Tottenham are desperate to keep him by scoring in their first pre-season game. [Reuters]

With no World Cup or European Championships this summer, football fans have had to make do with the Confederations Cup and various international youth tournaments to keep them entertained. But they can rejoice once again as pre-season is now in full swing.

The transfer window may still be open for another six weeks to provide twists and turns but nothing quite beats that first game of the season when you get to see which players have perhaps been enjoying their summer holidays a little too much.

Of course these days players are ultra-professional and most will have been training throughout the summer but there is still something special about witnessing your new signings for the first time, or getting the opportunity to watch some of the best youngsters your club has at their academy.

With England currently basking in glorious sunshine and with pre-season tickets usually a snip of the price you'd pay during the season, there is no better time to get yourself to a match and convince yourself that this is your season.

All across the globe Premier League teams are flying the flag but there was plenty of domestic action yesterday, starting with Swindon welcoming Tottenham Hotspur to The County Ground.

With plenty of speculation over the future of star man Gareth Bale, Spurs supporters were given another reminder as to how vital it is to keep the Welsh wizard as he opened the scoring with a typically powerful strike that flew into the top corner.


Bale was joined by fellow first team regulars Jermain Defoe, Kyle Walker and Hugo Lloris but they were unable to prevent Swindon from bagging an equaliser in the second half through a deflected strike from Andy Williams.

Despite the poor result Tottenham fans did get the opportunity to see highly-rated forward Christian Ceballos in action, as well as classy central midfielder Nabil Bentaleb who impressed for the Under-21 side last season.

Spurs' London neighbours West Ham United were also in action as Joe Cole and James Collins handed the Hammers a 2-1 win over Colchester.

Jabo Ibehre hit a late goal for the League One side as West Ham fans were handed the chance to see one of their brightest young prospects in Elliot Lee. The son of former Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee, Elliot is an 18 year old striker who could be the latest academy graduate to excel at the Boleyn.

North of the border there was a chance for Newcastle United fans to forget about the shock appointment of Joe Kinnear by watching Alan Pardew's side take part in an entertaining 4-2 win over Motherwell.

Established first team players Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissokho and Sylvain Marveaux all found the back of the net, while 20 year old midfielder Haris Vuckic was also on target.  

The Slovenian had previously scored just one goal for Newcastle in a Europa League qualifying game against Greek side Atromitos and will be hoping to make more of an impact next season.

It was also a great day to be a Notts County supporter as fans welcomed the likes of Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder and Burak Yilmaz to Meadow Lane.


Sneijder would hit the winner in a 2-1 victory over Notts County but it was Drogba who was rushed out of the ground as more than 200 fans looked to get an autograph from the former Chelsea legend - sadly there was no such mob for former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue who clearly isn't quite as fondly remembered.

While there were a host of games in England, out in the Far East there was a chance for Arsene Wenger to show exactly why he still hasn't signed another striker as Arsenal defeated Vietnam 7-1 at the My Dinh National Stadium.

Olivier Giroud hit a first half hat-trick, while fellow first team star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also struck just after half-time. There was also a chance for a host of young players to impress as Chuba Akpom helped himself to a brace, while Ignasi Miquel made it seven with fifteen minutes remaining.

Arsenal had already won their first pre-season game 7-0 against an Indonesia XI and it was another rout which showed that there certainly is some talent in the Gunners academy - see who needs Gonzalo Higuain.

Finally Chelsea also secured a 1-0 win over a Thailand XI thanks to a penalty from Romelu Lukaku but sometimes even a massive pre-season game like this can be overshadowed. I know, shocking. The news of the day was that Chelsea are bidding for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

Should that transfer coup come off then his unveiling would certainly make for one interesting friendly.