We stepped up our preparations for the Premier League restart with a convincing win over Ligue 1 side Lyon in Dubai.
With the competitive action resuming in just over two weeks’ time, Mikel Arteta used nearly all of his travelling squad in this friendly, with the first-team regulars storming to a 3-0 half-time lead, before a host of academy players saw out the win.
Gabriel’s header, Eddie Nketiah’s first-time finish and Fabio Vieira’s long-range effort were the difference – but we could have had many more, hitting the woodwork three times on an excellent run out in the Dubai Super Cup.
A strong start
Arteta named a strong XI from the players not involved at the World Cup, and we started very much on the front foot, enjoying most of the early possession.
With five minutes on the clock Reiss Nelson thundered a shot squarely against the near post after being set up by Nketiah, while Nketiah himself curled an effort wide just afterwards.
Just before we took the lead, Vieira spurned the best chance of the opening quarter of an hour. Coming inside from his position wide on the right, Vieira was slipped in by Martin Odegaard to go one-on-one with the keeper. Anthony Lopes denied him at close range however.
From the resulting corner Gabriel powered us ahead. He rose highest to meet Odegaard’s inswinging delivery with a thumping header.
Well-worked goals extend advantage
It gave us a deserved lead and shortly afterwards it was doubled. Sambi Lokonga’s wonderful first-time pass from the edge of his own area released the rampaging Vieira. His unselfish low cross was turned home by Nketiah in front of goal.
At the other end Moussa Dembele fired over when well placed, but normal service was soon restored when Vieira fired home our third.
Again it was the result of a neat move. Cedric, Odegaard and Nelson popped off one-touch passes before Vieira picked out the top corner with a cracking finish from the edge of the box.
We were playing at a much faster tempo than could have been expected after nearly a month without a competitive fixture, and were well in control at the break.
The Lyon side featured Alexandre Lacazette, who was on the scoresheet for us the last time we played in this stadium, in a 3-2 win over Al Nasr in 2019. But the French side were second-best here.
Marquinhos replaced Vieira at the break and was quickly involved, shooting against the bar from 20 yards – the keeper got a crucial touch at full stretch.
From a similar range Mohamed Elneny was next to go close. He tried to pick his spot just inside the near post, but drifted his shot just wide with Lopes left flat-footed.
Marquinhos had our next chance, but couldn’t find the net after Lopes flapped at a cross.
The youngsters take over
Midway through the second half Arteta replaced the rest of the outfield players, making nine subs at once.
It was now basically an under-21 side, including schoolboys Myles Lewis-Skelly (16) and Ethan Nwaneri (15).
What they lacked in experience, they made up for in enthusiasm, energy and of course plenty of talent. Nwaneri fired wide before Catalin Cirjan went even closer, hitting the post before Nathan Butler-Oyedeji saw his follow up snuffed out.
The youngsters continued to impress, with Karl Hein standing firm in the Gunners goal, and we held out for a hugely-impressive victory.
As with every game in this four-team Dubai Super Cup, we concluded with a penalty shootout to see which team earned a bonus point. Karl Hein made four saves out of five as we triumphed 2-1
Here’s how the shootout unfolded:
- Marquinhos scored 1-0
- Reine-Adelaide saved 1-0
- Matt Smith scored 2-0
- Santos Mendes scored 2-1
- Catalin Cirjan saved 2-1
- Cardoso saved 2-1
- Amorio Cozier-Duberry saved 2-1
- Barcola saved 2-1
- Reuell Walters missed 2-1
- Cherki saved 2-1
What it means
We kick off our Dubai Super Cup campaign with a solid victory, and take the extra point for winning the shootout.
Liverpool face Lyon this Sunday in the second game, before the final two fixtures see AC Milan take on us and then Liverpool. The team with the most points after all four games will win the trophy.
Our second and final friendly out in the United Arab Emirates is against AC Milan on Tuesday, with a 2pm kick off (UK time). That match will also be streamed live on Arsenal.com and the app.
Our final mid-season friendly will take place against Juventus at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, December 17 at 6pm (UK time). Tickets are still available for the fixture here
Then Premier League action resumes, on Boxing Day, when we host West Ham United.
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