by Mosope Ominiyi
Arsenal got their Emirates Cup tournament off to a flyer with an emphatic 6-0 thrashing over Lyon in the day’s early evening kick-off.
Four goals in nine first-half minutes, as well as second-half strikes from Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla sealed a superb victory in-front of their adoring supporters.
After Villarreal’s 2-1 victory over VfL Wolfsburg earlier on in the day, the Gunners were eager to get their pre-season tournament off to a good start against a tough opponent in the form of the Ligue 1 side, who finished second last term behind winners Paris Saint-Germain.
With the likes of Samuel Umtiti, Maxime Gonalons, Clinton N’jie and Alexandre Lacazette all in the starting eleven, it was clear from the get-go that although it was a friendly, they still wanted to win.
Arséne Wenger opted for a refreshing mix of both experience and youthful intent – with Emiliano Martinez, Alex Iwobi and Oxlade-Chamberlain all starting amongst other first-team regulars.
Arsenal enjoyed an encouraging start, with some neat link-up play in and around the box being fizzed around for the crowd to enjoy. However, Lyon were close to making a breakthrough on the counter attack within a flash. A flick-on by Lacazette set N’Jie through on goal, but his effort was blocked by Martinez’s thigh as the ball was virtually straight in the ‘keeper’s path.
Lindsay Rose was given the game’s first yellow card for a rash tackle on Francis Coquelin fifteen minutes in, who looked in some discomfort but was thankfully able to continue.
The Gunners continued in their pursuit of the opening goal, and as the match continued, Lyon gradually got more involved. Clement Grenier, who struggled for first-team minutes last term as a result of persistent injuries, limped off in pain after pulling up with a hip flexor strain after a misplaced pass.
It was still goal-less in the 30th minute, with Nabil Fekir coming on in place of the injured Grenier. However, the deadlock was soon broken – in a ten minute spell of simply fantastic football from the north Londoners, who bossed their way into an emphatic lead at the interval.
Giroud opened the scoring with a nicely-taken header, having met Mesut Özil’s sweetly-struck free-kick delivery in the box to beat Anthony Lopes in the Lyon goal.
The Arsenal faithful were still singing with delight before a minute later, it was two. Giroud turned provider, slotting through an inviting pass towards Oxlade-Chamberlain, who fired low and hard into the bottom corner of the net.
Then, soon enough it was three. Iwobi, who was energetic from the referee’s first whistle, got his name on the scoresheet through a well-taken first-time strike after good work from Ramsey in the build-up.
Next, it was Ramsey’s time to score. Mesut, who pulled the strings from midfield in a fantastic performance all-round from the silky German, looked up in space and fed through a perfect ball to the Welshman. He instinctively hit the ball first time, and it bounced in off the post to make it a fantastic four before the break.
As the second-half began, Arsenal picked up from where they left off. A few alterations were made by either side as the game continued, with Wenger’s men continuing to dominate their fair share of goal-scoring opportunities.
Giroud was unlucky not to get another goal to his name on the scoresheet, after being fed with a teasing ball into the box by Kieran Gibbs. He evaded his defensive marker and volleyed goalwards – but his effort struck the side netting.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom were amongst the pick of the bunch who came on, and the two talented youngsters combined well but were unfortunate not to net a goal between them.
Özil made it five with a low strike which arrowed into the bottom corner, before fan favourite Santi Cazorla, added another one having come off the substitutes’ bench to rub salt into Lyon’s fresh wounds with a low free-kick strike.
Arséne will be undoubtedly happy with what he’s seen today, and with Wolfsburg ahead tomorrow, they top the competition with nine points. Three for a win, one for each goal, and they’ve scored a sumptuous six for everyone to savour.