Arsenal’s pre-season preparations suffered a minor setback on Sunday as they were beaten 2-1 by Sylvinho’s Olympique Lyonnais in the Emirates Cup. Unai Emery and his players watched on as the Ligue 1 side lifted the trophy in front of what remained of the home crowd.
Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were rested by Unai Emery in light of the attempted car-jacking which took place in North London just a few days ago. The two players reported in with the rest of the squad on Sunday morning but after a brief chat, Emery felt it best the pair take a few days out to recover from the incident and spend time with their families.
Arsenal controlled the majority of the first period and having created a number of half-chances broke the deadlock on 34 minutes through last season's top goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross found the Gabonese striker in the centre of the penalty area and he expertly diverted the ball goalwards using the power already on the cross to beat Anthony Lopes in the Lyon goal.
The Gunners controlled possession for the most part and forced a couple of smart stops from the Lyon goalkeeper.
But a largely positive half was overshadowed by an injury to fan favourite Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman pulled up early-on with what looked like a foot injury. He re-entered the field just moments later hoping to shake the problem but worryingly pulled up again shortly afterwards and was replaced by Reiss Nelson on 12 minutes. Lacazette returned to the bench during the second period wearing a protective boot over his left foot.
The second half began and Lyon had improved substantially. Memphis Depay saw his curling effort tipped around the post by Bernd Leno and it was his cross shortly afterwards that was headed home by former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele. Dembele went on to add a second as he beat the offside trap shortly after Gabriel Martinelli had his goal ruled out in front of the North Bank. Dembele and Lyon's second eventually proved to be the winner.
The Silky Spaniard
Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos was introduced to the Arsenal faithful with approximately 20 minutes remaining on the clock - to a standing ovation. The Real Madrid loanee slotted into a slightly deeper midfield role alongside Granit Xhaka and showed some impressive touches, a positivity in his passing and that he is more than capable of carrying the ball.
Ceballos is without question a strong addition to the squad and despite today’s appearance only being a brief cameo it was one of promise that will breed excitement amongst the Arsenal fans.
A rising star?
19-year-old Joe Willock started just behind the striker, his impressive performance throughout earned him many plaudits and rightly so. The youngster was involved in everything the Gunners created, he was energetic, inventive and a constant problem for the Lyon defence.
Willock has impressed throughout the summer and is fancied by many to start up at Newcastle on the opening day of the Premier League season. He’s an exciting young talent whose football brain and maturity resembles that of somebody beyond his years.
When Emery adjusted the formation at half time Willock was asked to drop into a deeper midfield role alongside Xhaka, displaying his competence in a variety of midfield positions.
Attack, attack, attack
With the likes of Willock, Nelson and Nketiah seemingly ready to feature in the first team squad, Aubameyang, Lacazette and Lille forward Nicolas Pepe's arrival said to be imminent, Arsenal have plenty to be excited about in an attacking capacity.
Although today was just a pre-season friendly there were signs of the same old defensive fragilities that cost the Gunners a Champions League place at the end of the last season. The club's failure to address certain positions up until now has left many concerned.
With the transfer window set to shut in less than a fortnight the next 12 days are crucial for Emery and the Arsenal.