A rampant Arsenal breezed to a 3-0 win against Lyon in a friendly on Thursday, making impressively light work of the Ligue 1 side inside Dubai’s Al-Makhtoum Stadium.
Lyon looked well off the pace and were unable to get anywhere near Arsenal in the first half as they walked their way into a 3-0 lead. The pattern continued after the break for the most part, despite Lyon’s efforts to try and close up defensively.
The Gunners quickly found their spark and dominated proceedings, winning the ball back high, pinning Lyon into their own half and creating a flurry of chances. The Ligue 1 outfit had room to counter attack into, but couldn’t sustain possession for long enough to counter Arsenal.
Gabriel should’ve done better with a header from a free-kick after 14 minutes, before Fabio Vieira forced a low save out of Anthony Lopes after 18 minutes. The resulting corner saw the Brazilian atone for his earlier missed chance, as he pounced on poor defending to bulldoze Arsenal in front with his head.
Lyon struggled tremendously in trying to hold the ball and impose themselves on Arsenal. A rare chance for them in front of the Gunners’ goal saw Arsenal win back possession and thread together an excellent transition, with Martin Odegaard and Kieran Tierney linking up to spring their side forward and win a corner.
Arsenal looked good for a second and had one after half an hour. Catching the French side out as they tried to attack, the Gunners bombed forward and Fabio Vieira squared the ball along the box for Eddie Nketiah to tap home.
Two very quickly became three when Vieira grabbed one for himself after 39 minutes, using the acres of space he was afforded on the edge of the box to exquisitely curl one into the top corner.
The 3-0 scoreline flattered Lyon heading into the break in truth, with Arsenal looking incredibly sharp and their opponents looking the exact opposite.
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Laurent Blanc would’ve had plenty to say to his Lyon side at the interval, and while they were better in the second half, Arsenal still dominated proceedings. Substitute Marquinhos almost made it 4-0 after 55 minutes, but saw his curled effort tipped onto the crossbar.
Marquinhos missed another brilliant chance to score after an hour, when he swivelled on a loose ball but only found the side-netting from his shot. But with three goals already bundled in and the game essentially decided, Arteta called for mass change, effectively switching the entire XI.
The now very young Gunners almost made it 4-0 after winning possession from a goal kick that was played short, but a rather frantic sequence of defending just about saw the ball away for a corner.
With this being the highly regarded Dubai Super Cup (totally not sarcastic) there was a customary penalty shootout to follow the full-time whistle, with an extra point up for grabs. Arsenal won 2-1, but the highlights were two admittedly awful Panenka efforts from Catalin Cirjan and Rayan Cherki – the latter of whom looked like he’d given up halfway through his run-up.
GK: Karl Hein – 8/10 – With Aaron Ramsdale still at the World Cup, Hein got the nod, but didn’t have much to do. Clean display and three brilliant saves in the penalty shootout.
RB: Cedric Soares – 7/10 – Complimented Vieira well, going up inside to the half space and consistently providing a key pass.
CB: Rob Holding – 6/10 – Very composed display. Can be an asset with the games coming thick and fast following the conclusion of the World Cup.
CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Dominant performance from front to back.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – Looked sharp and incredibly fit; the most important thing for Tierney considering his worrying injury record.
DM: Mohamed Elneny – 6/10 – Swept up at the base of midfield very well – although Lyon didn’t ask too much of him.
DM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6/10 – Deployed in the newfound Granit Xhaka role with the instructions being to get forward and join the attack to create overloads. Found himself in front of goal with chances to score as a result, but lacked conviction.
RW: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Stretched the pitch well to create gaps in a slow Lyon defence and moved the ball smartly. Lovely, consistent weight of pass which grabbed him an early assist. Playing him as an inverted winger could be key moving forward.
AM: Martin Odegaard – 8/10 – Really strutted his stuff. No Lyon player could get near the Norwegian, who created chances and sprayed around lovely passes for fun.
LW: Reiss Nelson – 6/10 – Arsenal’s left flank was admittedly a lot less effective than their right. Nelson still enjoyed himself, though, growing in confidence as the game progressed.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 7/10 – Out of the game somewhat until he scored. An easy finish from a square ball, but one that will do Nketiah the world of good. Staked his claim with Gabriel Jesus sidelined after surgery.
Marquinhos – 7/10 – A very bright 45 minutes for the 19-year-old, who looked full of ability as well as intent.
Catalin Cirjan – 4/10 – Tried a panenka in the penalty shootout. It didn’t come off. Nightmare.
Matt Smith – 6/10
Myles Lewis-Skelly – 6/10
Ethan Nwaneri – 6/10
Taylor Foran – 6/10
Amario Cozier-Duberry – 6/10
Nathan Butler-Oyedeji – 6/10
Lino Sousa – 6/10
Reuell Walters – 6/10
Mikel Arteta – 8/10 – Got plenty of minutes into the legs of fringe players who needed them, escaped without having to watch anyone succumb to injury and watched his side put together a very comfortable 90 minute display. A good day at the office.