by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal will face Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais on the opening day of this season’s Emirates Cup.
Saturday afternoon will see the Gunners face the French team after VfL Wolfsburg have faced Valencia, and the side who finished second in Ligue 1 last season will pose Arsène Wenger’s side with a strong test.
With three games to go, Lyon were just three points adrift of eventual Ligue 1 winner Paris Saint-Germain. They ended up losing out on the league title by eight points but the season was a huge success. Lyon gained an automatic spot in the Champions League after a 5th place finish the previous season meant no European football at all for the club. Hubert Fournier’s first season was an incredibly encouraging one.
Part of Fournier’s success was the style that he brought to Lyon. Only PSG and Marseille scored more goals than Lyon last season, with PSG the only side to average more possession and Marseille the only team to have more shots per game.
Lyon like to keep the ball and they like to go forward with it. It’s only logical as they are certainly better on the front foot than when they are pushed back. Fullbacks Henri Bedimo and Christophe Jallet like to get forward to provide the width in an otherwise narrow diamond which is anchored by formidable captain Maxime Gonalons.
The attacking football was lead by the creativity of Nabil Fekir and goalscoring of Alexandre Lacazette, both of whom have been linked with moves to Arsenal. Lacazette was the top goalscorer in Ligue 1 last season with 27 goals in 33 games, though eight came from the penalty spot.
Fekir can’t go mentioned, only three players made more Ligue 1 goals in 2014/15 and only two players made more dribbles per game. He is one of the top young attacking midfielders in Europe.
The window has been one of consolidation. Yoann Gourcuff was released but everyone else, for now, has remained.
Claudio Beauvue has joined after scoring 27 times in 52 appearances for Guingamp last season and Jeremy Morel has joined on a free.
Most importantly, Lyon have managed to tie talented youngsters Nabil Fekir, Anthony Lopes and Corentin Tolisso to new contracts.
As already mentioned, Lyon played with a diamond last season. They have continued in the same vain during pre-season with Fournier maintaining a consistent look to the side.
Christophe Jallet, Lindsay Rose, Samuel Umtiti, Henri Bedimo;
Jordan Ferri, Maxime Gonalons, Corentin Tolisso;
Alexandre Lacazette, Claudio Beauvue