Report: Arsenal 1 Olympique Lyonnais 2 (including goals)


After a fruitful couple of weeks in the US, the Gunners came home to take part in the traditional season curtain raiser of sorts at Emirates Stadium against Ligue 1 side Lyon. The home fans were made to wait for their first glimpse of new boy Dani Ceballos, who started on the bench.

Bernd Leno started behind a defence featuring Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Calum Chambers, Sokratis and Nacho Monreal. Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka and Joe Willock completed a midfield three, while Pierre Emerick Aubameyang started from the right, with Mkhitaryan on the left and Alex Lacazette through the middle. It was a game that didn’t feel like a friendly at all, such was the intensity of it. There were plenty of positives or Unai Emery’s men, but ultimately they were to be frustrated by the result.


A home crowd undoubtedly buoyed by evidence of some transfer market machinations ooohed and aaaahed early on as the link up between Aubameyang and Lacazette gave the Lyon defence some early conniptions. Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang swapped flanks in the opening stages and the match official raised the ire of the home crowd when he waved away an Arsenal penalty claim after a collision in the area featuring Nacho Monreal.

There was further reason for a different type of disquiet in the home crowd when Alex Lacazette was substituted inside the first 15 minutes and replaced by Reiss Nelson. Lacazette jogged from the pitch, so hopefully the injury is not serious. Aubameyang temporarily assumed the central berth in the attack at this point. Moments later Joe Willock found himself in the area in the left half space, wriggled past a Lyon defender but his shot was beaten away by the legs of Lyon ‘keeper Lopes.

Nelson made an early impression with a buffeting right wing run from halfway to the by-line before his cross was deflected away for a corner. Aubameyang and Nelson then combined on the right, but Nelson’s flashed ball across the six yard box was not met with an Arsenal runner. A minute after that, the Gunners raised the pulse again as Willock collected a Guendouzi pass on the edge of the area with his back to goal, he spun and shot, but his low effort was well saved.

It was an excellent start for Unai Emery’s side and it really ought to have been rewarded with a goal on 20 minutes. Maitland-Niles’ cross was volleyed goalwards by Mkhitaryan, Lopes beat the ball away to Joe Willock following up, but he blazed his effort over from close range. It was a very impressive start from Willock who looks very intent on filling the Aaron Ramsey shaped hole in the Arsenal squad.

Arsenal kept the intensity of an impressive half humming along with some promising runs from Reiss Nelson, Mkhitaryan again tested the palms of the Lyon goalie with a fine left footed shot from range. The home side did break the deadlock with a deserved opener on 35 minutes. Mkhitaryan spanked a cross in from the right hand side and Aubameyang used the pace on the ball to deftly guide it into the corner with his instep. A beautifully taken and assembled goal and no less than their play deserved in a dominant opening period.

Lyon briefly threatened right on the cusp of half-time when Nacho Monreal carelessly gave the ball away to Jean Lucas on the edge of his own penalty area, but the Brazilian could only slash a cross shot wide of Bernd Leno’s goal. 1-0 at half-time was the very least the Gunners’ dominance deserved in the opening 45 minutes.


Unai Emery made a half-time change with Eddie Nketiah replacing Matteo Guendouzi. Nketiah moved into a centre forward position with Aubameyang back out on the right and Mkhitaryan dropped back into the midfield. But it was Lyon who posed the early second half threat as Dembele broke down Lyon’s right and fed Memphis Depay, who bent a shot towards the far post which Leno was equal to with an excellent fingertip save.

The chance foreshadowed a spell of early Lyon pressure in the second half, but the home side really ought to have extended their advantage on 55 minutes. Joe Willock clipped a right wing cross to the back post to Eddie Nketiah, but he miscued his header slightly, which bounced awkwardly into the ground and over the bar. He really ought to have scored.

Arsenal took a grip of the game again at this point and Reiss Nelson nearly doubled the advantage when he careered down the left, cut in on his right foot, but sent a shot just wide of the post. A minute later, it was Nketiah’s turn to draw the North Bank’s collective breath.

He collected Nelson’s pass inside the area with his back to goal, wriggled past two defenders but found the Lyon goalie sprawled at his feet to block his close range effort. Fine centre forward play from the youngster.

Lyon grabbed an equaliser against the run of play on 66 minutes when Jean Lucas received the ball on the left wing, chopped the ball back onto his left foot and his cross was met with an excellent run and and header from Lyon number 9 Moussa Dembele (how many Moussa Dembeles are there?!)

The mood inside the Emirates didn’t dip for long as Joe Willock was replaced by Dani Ceballos, whose debut was greeted with an enormous cheer. Gabriel Martinelli came on for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Calum Chambers was replaced by Skhodran Mustafi, whose name drew a small number of boos from pockets of the home crowd.

Arsenal thought they had retaken the lead on 74 minutes when  Martinelli bundled home from close range, only to be denied by the offside flag. Less than a minute later Arsenal were behind, when Dembele sprung the offside trap and slotted the ball under Leno. From nowhere, a dominant Gunners side found themselves behind due to a couple of defensive lapses. Sounds familiar, eh?

Aubameyang’s 80th minute free-kick fooled everyone on the east side of the stadium when it curled just wide and hit the posts behind the goal, briefly creating an optical illusion when the net ruffled. The effort was half a yard wide, alas.

In what was proving to be a breathless encounter, Aubameyang came even closer just seconds later. He ran onto a long pass into the right channel. The Lyon keeper came to intercept but misjudged Auba’s pace. The Gabonese hooked the ball over Racciopi’s head and onto the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Arsenal came close again when the ball ricocheted to sub Tyreece John-Jules in the area, but he slightly scuffed his shot into the keeper’s hands. In the end, the Gunners couldn’t force an equaliser and the Ligue 1 side take home the prestigious Emirates Cup trophy. Arsenal attacked really well but were let down by a couple of defensive lapses. I’ll wager that we might say that a few times before 2019-20 is done.

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Crash Fistfight

Can Nicolas Pepe play centre-half?


Uh yeah sure why not…Leno will play it out from the back to Pepe, who will then run the field with some Cruyff turns and rainbow chip the GK. EA will then release an inform card for him at CB. Opposition fans will then request him to be nerfed as Pepe @ CB is too OP.


That promo video by Adidas of the lads sticking on dodgy accents whilst getting a ‘fresh trim’ in a barber shop in Islington made us all forget that we are actually fairly shit at football…

Pepe or not, it is going to be a fucking long season.


Are you really taking a preseason friendly that seriously? We must have some of the most toxic supporters in the world


Not long left before actual season starts and glimpses are there for this to be a really long season. Today’s match was again repetition of losing concentration and doling out freebies to the opposition. Most of the fans wouldn’t mind losing only if opposition are made to struggle and they get away with win. Sloppy passing and incoherent team work will only make Emery’s life miserable because we rarely play as a team.


This has nothing to do with it ‘just being a preason game.’ That was our 5th preason game and that was Lyons 2nd preason game, and they beat us fairly easily. We should have been better than Lyon fitness wise alone… but I wouldnt say that was the case at all. And what — do you think that those defensive errors will just magically disappear in the next 14 days. And then not show up because we’re playing a Premier League game? If a team playing their 2nd preason game can beat us that easily when we are 3/4 weeks… Read more »


Preason? Is that preseason is Goober speak?


I’ll wager you did not see the game or the highlights. Our performance was really encouraging and Lyon was just lucky. Something I think will be solved by just one solid CB purchase.

Dave Cee



I’d like a Mustafi replacement as much as anyone else, but booing your own players is pathetic. Guess there is a classless group in any fanbase.


Holding, Bellerin and possibly Tierney and I hope we can survive the season. I’m thinking the board is saving up funds for an elite CB next summer. Like what Liverpool did before they got Van Diyk.

Just my assumption.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

I want to see a strong winning mentality first before even talking about transfers. Players who absolutely want to win during training sessions, friendlies not to say competitive games.


Love your assumption. ??


*spends 80mill euros on Pepe* uuuuh yeah we are saving funds… ?


Nice defending by Mustafi for the second goal. He stayed on his feet and raised his hand at the referee. Not his finest hour, nut certainly not his worst.


Mustafi is definitely trash, but the man was not responsible for any of the goals today.


That about sums it up regarding him, doesn’t it! He wasn’t responsible for any goals today. Wow! The sooner he goes, the better but who will buy him? Not sure how long his contract is, but if it’s the usual 4 years, then we’ve got a season of this nonsense to come before we can finally show him the exit door! A quick maths test: we’re paying him £150,000 a week so over a four year contract, how much will we have wasted (not including the £35 million transfer fee we paid Valencia, of course) by the time he finally… Read more »


Not sure he’s on £150,000 a week mate. He’s shite though for sure. Utter waste of scare resources




Well, that figure has long been widely reported so I guess we have to accept it or not. However, his wages are regularly given as a reason for us not being able to sell him – why/where would he go for a pay cut? The other reason is that he’s rubbish, of course. What isn’t really in question is the transfer fee we paid in 2016 – £35 million, to Valencia. That fee still makes him one of the most expensive central defenders in the EPL. Given Arsenal’s recent problems over some transfer targets, that really is a waste –… Read more »


Remember he was in the German World Cup winning squad when he joined and made a good start. Nobody could have realised how bad he has turned out.

Leno me, I’ll be your friend

You’re right Jai, not sure where this £150k keeps coming from but he is in actual fact on £90k per week.

…can’t believe I just ran to the defence of a player who rarely runs our defence!
(just a joke folks, move along)

Leno me, I’ll be your friend
Leno me, I’ll be your friend

I’ve posted a couple links so people can see, but they’ve got to get through moderation first… Apologies.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Mustafi is less responsible of these defeats than the manager who hasn’t been able to put a sound defensive system in place for one year. I watched these goals and Mustafi at least tried to do something. Players around him did not.


Emery has nowhere to hide. He’s been backed this summer if we sign Pepe and Tierney. Nowhere to hide at all. His coaching will be scrutinised now as it should be


It took Klopp 3 years to get it right defensively, and it took Guardiola a season, but he did take over the most expensively assembled squad in history, and then get given a blank chequebook. Just 18 months ago, exactly the same questions were being asked of Klopp, but last season they had the best defence. This is just a friendly, it’s all about fitness, and getting some young lads some experience. I don’t expect we’ll be much better on the back-foot this season, we missed out on CL by a whisker last time, and games against Chelsea are usually… Read more »

Indian gooner

Wrong – he is on 90000 but true he is prone lapse which prove costly


Watch Dembele’s second goal and you can see Mustafi was marking him. Then he tried to get him offside and failed. As I said, not his finest hour but certainly not his worst. Can we go anywhere in the Prem with a defender who cannot read defensive situations though?


Yeah, but Dembele WAS offside. So really, he did his job. Sadly the ref didn’t see it

Reality check

Just wouldn’t let go of the chance to bring your own player down.. very classy and supportive


Three things that Unai need to sort out:
1. A midfield combination, that would provide a leverage for defense.
2. A defensive formation + Partnership and stop changing around. I know we had injuries last season and the reality of Mustafi still lurking around.
3. Some f*cking winning mentality.


Not sure how much more evidence they can possibly get that we need to sign some defenders.


This felt all too familiar: play absolutely well for majority of the game, score a goal, create chances after chances, miss them, relax a little — opponent get two chances, they score, game over.

But I got to say we have a seriously ridiculous pool of young talents to choose from. The future of this club looks very interesting.


why do we always switch off as soon as a major event happens (ie disallowed goal) .. ?

seems to just be lack of a leader in defence/midfield to have everyone focused in those moments


Giving an idiot like Xhaka the armband says it all really. We have zero leaders as of now. Zero. When the going gets tough as we see season in, season out, nobody is there to grab someone by the scruff and sort it out. Xhaka? Don’t make me laugh. Would rather give it to someone like Holding or Torreira


How Xhaka lasted the full 90 mins baffles me. To put it simply he is an absolutely catastrophic player and is not the only one.


Since the likes of him and Mustafi have been at Arsenal, we have steadily regressed. We have changed so much yet Xhaka continues to start every single match, why the hell can’t we bench him and see how we do? He’s “integral” to our play apparently, well since he’s been here our football has been dreadful for the most part. Slow, cumbersome. Sick of seeing him


There was a press report a while ago that said Xhaka was/is on Emery’s departure’s list but I’ve seen nothing about this since. The problem is that we have a number of players (I think we all know who they are) who are simply not good enough. Unfortunately, they are also overpaid, so there’s no incentive for them to move for a pay cut. It’s no coincidence that there have been no major (not youngsters) transfers out so far this Summer. We just can’t shift them.


It was interesting to hear Adrian Clarke–who does some good breakdowns on the Arsenal 360 show I get on the GolTV channel here in the U.S.–talking on today’s telecast about how he’d give Lacazette the captaincy even though everyone assumes it’ll go to Xhaka. Says he thinks Xhaka has too much to work on to improve his own game to be a captain, which I thought was pretty damning to hear on what was basically an Arsenal-produced broadcast.


Completely agree; I’d feel much safer with a midfield trio of Torreira/Cabellos/Willock at this point, I’ll never understand how Emery (and apparently a bunch of Arsenal fans) rate that guy. He’s a liability.


I would request to keep your language in little check before insulting a player you have zero knowledge about Also, just because you are fan doesn’t make you entitled to call Xhaka an idiot.


Lol ! Why are you even wasting your time threatening someone online


I just had one of those deja vu moments..


Defence still shaky..


I thought Chambers had another decent showing


Still time in the window to get a CB, right?


A single CB does not solve our defensive issues. We suck at defending as a team. The manager has been absolutely inept at putting together a defensive strategy

Crash Fistfight

Yep, I’m not sure a centre back can be responsible for the whole of the back 4 playing the offside trap correctly and at the right time. I don’t think our defenders are very good, but worse defenders are able to defend better in lesser teams by virtue of being disciplined. The times a defender has to use individual skill to defend as opposed to just being in the correct position are the minority.


To be fair, Emery has been missing some crucial ingredients, namely, defenders who can defend.


In the bits I watched there was lots of faffing around at times instead of keeping it simple, and a lot of poor decision making after going behind. Felt sorry for Martinelli, he looked so happy after scoring


Ceballos already looks like an absolute baller – so classy


He looks like he’ll slot in so quickly. Already done more in an Arsenal short than Suarez managed last season.

Also thought Guendouzi looked class in that first half

Crash Fistfight

I thought Guendouzi looked really rusty.

Dion dublin hammered under my home

For his first game back he was running the show in the first half. Great talent some of those inch perfect long passes and quick balls in to feet in between the lines were brilliant. Played with great tempo too. Hope laca is OK


Totally agree! Ceballos was really impressive in those few minutes.

Xhaka is absolutely horrible and his lack of athletism contributes a lot to our defensive problems. Turns slower than a tractor. His passing stats are overblown if we take into account the combinations. We lack the necessary intensity in progressing the ball quicker as a result. Our offensive play too suffers. We need nimble players for that spot.


Agree, he looked great.

Der Kaiser

Emery must know another class centre back is required for THIS season


Another center back can only help so much. Emery still hasn’t put together a defensive strategy for the team. Arsenal fans are so focused on blaming individual players for team deficiencies, Mustafi and Xhaka being their favorite targets.
We don’t do better without them on the pitch either. A solid strategy can mask the defects of individuals. A poor strategy like the one Emery has only exposes them. Look at Stones, Otamendi, Luiz, Lovren. All were seen by some as being calamitous but with the right systems, they won trophies.


Perfect buddy


Unai knows.

Does Raul?

Andre Arshavin

I really hope we address the defensive issues. Even if we reduce our goals allowed by 20% that would make an immense difference in where we finish this season. The string of youngsters entering the first team is super exciting, especially Willock and Nketiah have been superb in the pre-season. Fingers crossed we get a half-decent CB and I will keep my mouth shut about KSE for another year.

Crash Fistfight

20% is 10 whole goals. That’s not a small reduction.


Nketiah was let go by chelsea for a reason. Three grest oppurtunies in last two games fluffed. Also a heavy touch. Wont make it.


Oh yeah exactly, they always know what they’re doing. That’s why they got rid of Salah and De Bruyne.


Instant impact from the Real £15M loanee.

Kwame Ampadu Down

You are just poison Alex.


Were Ozil and Kolasinic missing because of the midweek incident?


Emery said yes.


Kolasinac unavailable, he had some other defensive duties to take care of.


Yes. Emery decided they were not in the right frame of mind.


“how many Moussa Dembeles are there?!”
my thoughts exactly!! lol

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

The kids were great
John Moss and mustafi were equally crap
And it’s almost magical to still see jenkinson played for arsenal


Rather more like ‘unbelievable’. I think he is played for shop window (I hope…as are a number of players including Mhkitaryan, Mustafi, Chambers, Elneny I’m not sure how we move him) I like Jenkinson as a fan but he is not good enough. One dimensional running, whips crosses in blindly. Not without trying mind you, he always gives 110% for I’d give him that. But that isn’t sufficient, should not be. AMN is a Rback. I mentioned this many times, but some people are too obstinate in their thinking. There is no ‘natural position’. This is the position he played… Read more »

Pepe's left foot

Aubameyang actually did not actually move into the central position when Laca come off and Willock playing in the middle; which I thought slightly odd but I guess that he will be playing on the right throughout the season. AMN easily beaten for their equaliser and Chambers no where near challenging for the header; just when I was thinking he was having a good game. No need for Mustafi boos, they should be saved for Koscielny. Much to like about Willock, Eddie and Nelson; hope we hold back the loan moves until January transfer window to play them in the… Read more »


Shame on anyone who booed Mustafi. Pathetic, why do we do this to our players??



Not saying Mustafi is a great defender by any stretch of the imagination but these people are simply looking for every excuse or minute fault to blame him.

They conveniently overlook the faults of their favorite players like Torreira.

Its a shame.

Most people tend to be clueless or unfair or both.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

I don’t like mustafi at all. But if you want to boo, boo the management instead. Especially stan kroenke

DB10s Air Miles

It’s absolutely disgraceful! How is that supposed to improve him on the pitch? So unnecessary and extremely unhelpful. Shame on those that booed.


Not to overreact to a friendly, but this goes for the entire season- if we sign who we’re linked to, then this season is even more huge for Emery. If he under-performs, he’s gone. No more excuses. There are many many managers out there who would want to manage our squad, particularly if we add Pepe and Tierney to it. He’s got this season to prove himself, otherwise he’s gone, and with Raul and Edu there I think they’re ruthless enough for that


Given that a potential world class CB will be joining next season, it’s even more imperative that we have a manager who knows about the art of defending, otherwise Saliba could suffer, and we can’t afford that considering he could be exceptional with the right coaching.


You’re right, it really does actually seem like Emery has no idea about defending. It’s a bit wearisome, even in a friendly, to see the same old patterns emerging already. We are way too easy to score on.


I’ve always said that on this blog. He isn’t a coach who’s ever been defensively great, a simple check on his career statistics would tell you that. I’m not fussed- if he doesn’t improve this season, he’s gone. Raul is a Barcelona man- they don’t mess around


I hate to say it this early in the season but i just don’t what position Xhaka will hold with Cabellos in the squad. He is not a DM or box to box… too slow for right back. mabye put him as a CB. cannot be worst than what we have got atm


No way!! Just don’t have him in the team is all.



We need to invest all remaining money now in a Good (not decent or expensively promising) Cback.

We’ve spent prob 25m on Saliba, Cebellos and Pepe (should this go through), so likely on say 60-65m budget, we have around 35-40m to play with.

Hopefully we can rely on Raul to work on his ‘footballing relations’ at Barca and get someone of the calibre of Umtiti.

Guns Up

That little burst through the lines by Ceballos shortly after he came on had me grinning ear to ear. More of the same, please.

Cultured Determination

1) we need a solid CB. with Saliba coming only next season, and with Holding and Sokratis as our only decent CBs, we’ll need to add 1 more solid if not unspectacular one. discard mustafi already
2) i hope we loaned Ceballos to play in CM with Torreira. no more Xhaka crap. Xhaka’s supposed to dictate the tempo of the game and link the play with creativity for Ozil to release the 2 lords of wings and the striker. he’s not doing it.

Dion dublin hammered under my home

Nice cameo from danni onions. His style reminds me a little bit of Jack. He ran forward nicely with the ball and made good passing angles. How people are unhappy with this move is strange brilliant talent

Paul Roberts

Now would be a good time to announce a defender or two.

santori In other news… Pepe. He can play up top so we could use a fluid front 3 or pair him or play him wide in and all African attaking 3 with Iwobi and Auba (4-2-3-1) Cebellos and him good tekkers which will help us in tight spaces not to mention his pace will help us beyond (and inconcert with) Auba on the counter where we need to be way more efficient (plus Cebellos can carry from deep too) Very promising. just the big hole at the back. Feet of clay. We’ve been at this for close to 14 years… Read more »

Monkey Joe

#EmeryOut obviously.


Based on a friendly match?

Romford Pele

Booing our own players? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with people…


4 goals in two games,, good old defence back to its usual self ready for pre season,, Oh joy


I can see all the good work being done scoring and all undone again at the back thanks to the defence


Never mind the result, the disgrace was no Camden on pump!


Too true, was looking forward to my Hells. ?


Nothing against them personally, they try hard and wear there hearts on there sleeves but Mustafi and Xhaxa cannot continue in the spine of this team. Those are two massively pivotal positions. Just look at any trophy winning teams Gk, Cb , cm , Am, St. We are seriously crippled in two of these areas and our results and performances reflect that.


This match had me thinking about AMN. He was involved for both Lyon goals. 1st: fair enough, he got beat. 2nd: He played Dembele onside and his positioning was too far back.

Perhaps it’s time to shift him to CM, once Hector is back?

Crash Fistfight

Perhaps the back four could be coached a bit more on how to stay in a line/push up together.

North for short

A few things on yesterday’s game. The first is why was the goal ruled out for offside? I have looked at various replays (you only get one chance live) and Martinelli seems onside) I would be grateful if someone could pick that up. The second is why are we still pursuing a CB when there is Gary Cahill up for Grabs. What about Chris Samba from Cardiff. HE seemed quite solid whenever I saw him on the box and my favourite to sign because of FiFA mainly, why punt for Jonathan Tah. Another solid potential. Lastly, I was disappointed about… Read more »