Thursday afternoon sees us face off against Lyon in the Dubai Super Cup, as both teams look to get off to a winning start in the competition.
With four points at stake (understand more about the competition’s rules), the French side will provide a stern test as we continue to get back up to speed during this mid-season break.
Ahead of Thursday’s 3.30pm kick-off, here is everything you need to know about our first opponents:
Olympique Lyonnais was founded in 1950, and quickly established themselves in the top tier of French football. They were a strong cup team in the 1960s and 1970s, reaching the Coupe de France final six times and claiming the silverware on three occasions.
Following the turn of the millennium, they rose to prominence in France, winning Ligue 1 for a record seven consecutive seasons between 2001/02 to 2007/08, developing the likes of Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Sidney Govou, Juninho, Eric Abidal and Karim Benzema in the process. During that time they also lifted another Coupe de France and a Coupe de la Ligue, and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League three times.
Since then they have gone a step further to the last four on two further occasions, the last of which was in 2019/20, but they failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 24 years at the end of that season. Paris St Germain’s dominance of domestic football has seen the silverware dry up, and last season saw OL finish eighth in the top-flight.
Back in October, Lyon’s new American owners - who purchased the club for $846 million in the summer - ended Peter Bosz’s 18-month tenure and appointed Laurent Blanc in his place. The former Bordeaux, PSG and French national team boss had previously been in charge of Al Rayyan in Qatar until February.
A legend in his homeland, Blanc was a key component of France’s 1998 World Cup triumph, and won 97 caps for his country. His playing days also saw stints at Napoli, Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United before he retired in 2003.
Instantly recognisable to Gooners will be Alexandre Lacazette, who rejoined the club he began his career at following his departure from north London last summer. Since returning, he has netted nine times in 15 outings to lead Lyon’s scoring charts.
Young Brazilian winger Tete has added another five to his team’s cause, while former Fulham and Celtic striker Moussa Dembele also continues to be a threat in attack.
Central midfielder Houssem Aouar has played over 200 times for his hometown club, while 28-time capped Frenchman Corentin Tolisso returned to the club in July after spending five seasons at Bayern Munich.
Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was a member of Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning squad, while veteran centre-back Jerome Boateng and former Gunner Jeff Reine-Adelaide are also on the books.
Only two players were called up to the World Cup, and Karl Ekambi has already departed having played in all three of Cameroon’s games before their elimination. Summer signing Nicolas Tagliafico is still in Qatar though, having started the shock defeat to Saudi Arabia but has appeared twice more from the bench during their run to the quarter-finals.
The current season
Lyon finished last season eighth in Ligue 1, and entered the World Cup break in the exact same position, having taken 21 points from their 15 games so far.
Four wins from their opening five games ignited hope of a successful campaign, but one point from their next five saw the end of Bosz’s time in the dugout. Blanc’s appointment hasn’t led to too much of an upturn, with two wins and a draw coming from his first five games.
Their last league outing was a 1-1 draw with Nice on November 11, when Nicolas Pepe’s penalty was cancelled out by Lacazette’s 89th-minute effort from the spot, but on December 1 they did beat Belgium side Leuven in Spain 5-3, when Dembele grabbed a hat-trick.
The previous meetings
We have faced OL twice in competitive action, which came back in the 2000/01 season in the Champions League second group stage. A Thierry Henry goal away from home gave us a 1-0 victory, while Dennis Bergkamp was on target in a 1-1 draw the following week at Highbury.
Lyon have also provided opposition twice at the Emirates Cup - in 2015 we thrashed them 6-0 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, but in 2019 they collected the trophy after beating us 2-1, when Dembele netted twice.
How to watch
You’ll be able to stream our matches against Lyon and AC Milan on Arsenal.com and the official app.
Our usual matchday coverage will begin with Breakdown Live, starting 30 minutes before each game and providing all the need-to-know information ahead of the games, with live commentary accompanying the match action.
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