Arsenal 6 – 0 Olympique Lyonnais
1 – 0 Giroud (29)
2 – 0 Oxlade-Chamberlain (34)
3 – 0 Iwobi (35)
4 – 0 Ramsey (38)
5 – 0 Özil (62)
6 – 0 Cazorla (84)
As days go, this will go down as one of the better ones of the summer. Six goals in a friendly win and Theo’s finally going to sign da ting, according to reports this morning. Pen is being put to paper and set to be announced in the next fortnight this morning’s Mirror claims, avoiding a tortuous start to the season.
In the meantime, that’s it for this summers’ Emirates Cup, surely? Villarreal need to win and score twice – entirely possible, I am sure you will agree – but Arsenal not scoring? Not in this mood, there’s no…ah, yes, I remember last summer. It’s interesting to think that some still propose points for goals for league football. Not so loudly any more; the creeping encroachment of corruption in world football makes the professional game more susceptible to foul play with that sort of incentive.
Arsenal did what was asked of them. That they played a generous opponent means nothing; you can only beat those placed in front of you and enjoy victory. Entirely comfortable, Arsenal had few moments of genuine concern. And with four or five goals in the bank, does that really matter?
The answer is no. Winning builds momentum, continues the feelgood factor from the FA Cup as far as the players are concerned, a little bit more confidence I suppose Arsène might say. And to be fair, some of the football yesterday was excellent. That’s the luxury friendlies afford; the players are more relaxed, at ease and capable of playing the pass they want against less intense opponents who offer the space and time usually missing in competitive matches.
A decade ago, putting six past Lyon would have made us sit up and take notice. Not so at the moment; they’re in a comparative lull and facing more of an uphill struggle than Arsenal to overcome the petrodollar. The French side were a permanent fixture in the Champions League and they had Juninho on their books, curling free kicks in from impossible angles and distances. It wasn’t that Juninho, this one had a perambulator somewhere in tow. Which made the free kicks all the more impressive, I suppose.
But frankly, they looked like they couldn’t be arsed yesterday, even before the first of four goals in less than minutes, was scored. It isn’t Arsenal’s fault that they were hit by Lyonnaise towels as they walked onto the pitch before kick-off.
Four goals in nine minutes, including three in four, killed what was already becoming a one-sided affair. Arsenal’s passing and movement was excellent, with Özil at the heart of it all. The German played for an hour and it was as good as he has all pre-season. And a continuation of the form he showed in the second half of last season. Passes flowed from his feet with little problem and certainly no lack of cohesion, all capped off with a fine finish.
All of the goals had their merits but two through five were eye-catching simply for the fluidity of the passing prior to the excellent finishes. Oxlade-Chamberlain served notice that it was by no means certain that Theo is going to slot back into the XI in that position. Or if it is certain, Walcott is going to be kept on his toes.
The relaxed nature of the occasion was captured in one moment, footballs’ biting humour of football was evident. Santi Cazorla’s free kick had just trundled under the leaping Lyonnais wall; Steve Bould put his hand over his mouth seemingly to talk in code to Arsène, instead barely stifling his laugh. There’s nothing like making a fool of your opponent.
Having warned before the trip to Singapore that we should not read too much into these matches, Arsène promptly reinforced that message,
Let’s be cautious [when talking about winning the title]. We finished third in the league and won the FA Cup last season. That’s a good basis, of course. Our target is to do better. We know that we will put all of our effort in and that it will be very difficult because it will be a big challenge
It’s the same tempered response when he was asked about a “desperate need” for a striker,
WIt depends what you call a desperate need. When you score six goals, I concede that you don’t have a desperate need. We won the FA Cup final scoring four goals. We score goals, and that’s what I mean by that. We can create chances and we can score goals. We are open-minded but everybody is on the market.
Euphoria should be tempered by last season’s 5-1 victory over Benfica. Twenty-four hours later, Arsenal slumped to a single goal defeat. Arsène would do well to heed his own words at that time, to offer some quiet perspective on pre-season,
I think it’s very difficult to draw any conclusions like that. Benfica might be in a different level of preparation.
If we are getting carried away with yesterday’s win, let’s all pan Chelsea; mark them down for relegation, say I, entering into the spirit of things.
Of course we can’t be as euphoric. Last pre-season, Yaya Sanogo scored four against Benfica and that hasn’t ended well, has it? It’s a time when football flatters to deceive at either end of the spectrum. Defeat is as much a portent of doom as six-goal victories are a vision of things to come.
There is an element of truth though, in what he says. We are not desperate for another striker so no, he hasn’t got to rush out and buy one immediately. It’s just the hyperbole of football and part of his job is to defend his current players but there’s more to this than general transfer chat. Lord ‘Arris of Axminster fanned the flames with his outburst in The Heil and it seems to have been an interview which rankles with the manager,
On one side the questions in the press is, ‘How do you keep everybody happy?’, and on the other hand, one minute later they ask me, ‘Why don’t you buy any more players?’. So, if I cannot keep the ones I already have happy why should I buy more? I think our squad is well balanced quality wise and numbers wise because of the number of games we have we need everybody.
I’m guessing that Madame Wenger has cancelled the order for the new kitchen lino with ‘Arris’ carpet emporium.
Today’s match against Wolfsburg is another matter. The XI will be changed and Petr Cech makes his home début, with Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla likely to take the starring role in midfield. Another win is the order of the day, setting us for the week ahead for the only pre-season test at Wembley a week today.