Arsenal succumbed to defeat on home soil, as Lyon scored two second half goals to snatch the game 2-1.
A brace from former Fulham striker Moussa Dembele was enough to see off the Gunners, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had scored a first half goal to leave the home side a goal up at half time.
Unai Emery named a strong side for the tie, which was perfect preparation for the season ahead. Bernd Leno took the gloves, and in defence, we had Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal.
Matteo Guendouzi returned to the side to partner captain Granit Xhaka in the centre of the field, and the impressive Willock took the playmaker role, as Mesut Ozil as well as Sead Kolasinac were given the day off.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also lined up to help out sole striker Alexandre Lacazette. A lot of established names and a treat for the home fans.
We started off well, and our attack appeared fluid for such an early stage of the season, two early chances fell to Mkhitaryan and Willock which forced saves from Lopes in the Lyon goal. The French side were struggling to pin down our men, and the pace we passed the ball with was a promising sight.
Just after the half hour mark, we broke the deadlock. Mkhitaryan was again involved, and his cross was diverted past Lopes first time from the instinctive Auba. It was a predatory finish and showed superb reflexes, which bodes well for the impending campaign.
The second half only saw one change. Matteo Guendouzi made way for Eddie Nketiah, and that made two up top and a switch to 4-4-2 from Emery. The switch didn’t initially upset the flow of our play. Willock did well to send over a cross that was met by Nketiah, but his header looped high.
We had them on the ropes but we failed to kill off the game.
It would come back to haunt us.
Reiss Nelson, a 12th minute sub for Lacazette (taken off as a precaution to pain in his ankle) also went close, before Nketiah worked his own chance and forced Lopes to make a smart stop.
A minute later, Lyon were level.
The so-far flawless Maitland-Niles was beaten by Depay out wide. The Dutch winger sent over a delivery that found Dembele who thumped a header past Leno.
Against the run of play, but level nonetheless.
Emery opted to make changes, sending on new boys Ceballos, Martinelli and Mustafi for Mkhitaryan, Willock and Chambers. This disrupted things somewhat, and Lyon took advantage.
With Mustafi appealing for offside, Dembele didn’t hesitate and took his chance, firing home past Leno.
This prompted more changes, with Jenkinson swapping with Maitland-Niles and Tyreece John-Jules replacing Reiss Nelson.
We came close to forcing penalties with a set piece that hit the side netting, and we also saw more subs, with just four minutes to go, young Robbie Burton came on for Auba and Zech Medley replacing Nacho Monreal.
That was the last real act of the game, so what did we learn from this latest 90 minutes?
The youngster played further forward in this game, but showed in earlier appearances that he can also play in the engine room. Both positions, Emery seems to trust him. And rightly so, as he hasn’t put a foot wrong. At the centre of our best moves in the first half, he and Mkhitaryan were involved. We have one hell of a player on our hands.
Martinelli Looks Sharp
It was only twenty minutes, but the young Brazilian scored an opportunistic effort that was ruled out for offside, and every time he got the ball, he looked a threat. Promising positions, good touch, Martinelli could be a bigger asset this coming season that we hoped for.
First half? 4-2-3-1. Second half? 4-4-2. We flipped formations easily and players adapted like it was no problem. Last season we also showed that five at the back is an option, so our players may be required to fill multiple roles. It requires a sound football brain and an active ear when listening to the coach. Early signs are good.
Plenty of Empty Seats
The #WeCareDoYou group swells with numbers, and one of the many things mentioned in the same breath was the Emirates Cup and a refusal to buy tickets. Whether this was correlated with the empty seats at the game is undecided, but the announced capacity was around the 50k mark. That may have been optimistic, and there were plenty of stands that were full, but the empty seats were unavoidable to see.
We have two remaining friendlies before the season kicks off. Midweek we go to Ligue Un Angers, and in the weekend, we take on Barcelona.
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