Arsenal showed why they are the best team in the English Premier League so far this season when they totally dominated French rivals Lyon to win the opening game of the Dubai Super Cup 2022 on Thursday, which sadly ended in one of the most outrageous penalty shootouts.
The 14-time FA Cup winners pumped in three goals during a superior quality first half at the Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium, before they appeared to go off the boil upon resumption after the break.
Eight-time French Cup winners Lyon’s youthful side looked completely out of depth against the English giants, but perhaps never more than in the mandatory penalty shootout which will be held at the end of every Super Cup match. A bonus point is available for the winners from the spot.
If Lyon lacked purpose and intent during the 90 minutes of regular time, they were even less satisfactory in the shootout.
Only the French side’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes showed some imagination with a staggered run-up that sent Arsenal’s Estonian keeper Karl Hein the wrong way before he modestly put the ball into the net to help his team pick up the bonus point.
The rest of the spot kicks by Lyon were comfortably intercepted by Hein who looked to be in good form in the net.
Arsenal are in Dubai to continue their preparations ahead of the Premier League restart after the Fifa World Cup, together with fellow EPL rivals Liverpool and Italian legends, AC Milan.
Mikel Arteta's side faces AC Milan next on December 13 before they return to London to face Juventus in another top-level friendly.
The Gunners will enjoy an extra-special Christmas at the top of the English Premier League where they have a five-point cushion over six-time champions Manchester City before swinging into action against 16th-placed West Ham on Boxing Day.
Arsenal then faces stiffer tests against Brighton (7th) and Newcastle (3rd), before their much-anticipated North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur in early 2023.
If Thursday’s performance in the Super Cup curtain-raiser is anything to go by, Arsenal appears to be in fine nick as skipper Martin Odegaard in particular enjoyed a good game at the state-of-the-art Al Maktoum Stadium.
The attacking Norwegian midfielder was a source of creativity constructing good opportunities for his teammates both during play and from set pieces as Gabriel Magalhaes, Eddie Nketiah and Fabio Vieria took care of the goals.
The Gunners’ fans were just beginning to warm up their seats when they were treated to a beautiful 18th-minute strike from Magalhes, as the Brazilian center-back leaped high to head Odegaard’s swinging corner kick into the top of the Lyon net.
Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, whose flowing braided hair scored a strong style statement, protested but the referee was not moved.
Goal number two came after former Arsenal striker Alexandre Lazazette, who has returned to duty with Les Gones (Little Kids), looked ominous before he lost possession just outside the box
As Arsenal broke away Fabio Vieira received the ball with many options at his disposal. However, the Portuguese midfielder chose to abstain and instead play the ball to Eddie Nketiah who put it into the bottom corner of the net.
The third and final goal of the match was the undisputable highlight of the match. It reeked of class and summed up the status of a top-flight Premier League team.
Following a free-flowing move, the ball was laid off to Vieira who deftly left-footed it into the corner of the net past a flying Lopez. It was a thing of beauty with the Lyon goalkeeper’s leap of fate only adding to its brilliance.
After a two-day break, the Super Cup resumes with Liverpool taking on AC Milan in a potential humdinger of a match on Sunday.
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