A rampant Arsenal breezed to a 3-0 win against Lyon in a friendly on Thursday, making impressively light work of the Ligue 1 side inside Dubai’s Al-Makhtoum Stadium.
Lyon looked well off the pace and were unable to get anywhere near Arsenal in the first half as they walked their way into a 3-0 lead. The pattern continued after the break for the most part, despite Lyon’s efforts to try and close up defensively.
The Gunners quickly found their spark and dominated proceedings, winning the ball back high, pinning Lyon into their own half and creating a flurry of chances. The Ligue 1 outfit had room to counter attack into, but couldn’t sustain possession for long enough to counter Arsenal.
Gabriel should’ve done better with a header from a free-kick after 14 minutes, before Fabio Vieira forced a low save out of Anthony Lopes after 18 minutes. The resulting corner saw the Brazilian atone for his earlier missed chance, as he pounced on poor defending to bulldoze Arsenal in front with his head.
Lyon struggled tremendously in trying to hold the ball and impose themselves on Arsenal. A rare chance for them in front of the Gunners’ goal saw Arsenal win back possession and thread together an excellent transition, with Martin Odegaard and Kieran Tierney linking up to spring their side forward and win a corner.
Arsenal looked good for a second and had one after half an hour. Catching the French side out as they tried to attack, the Gunners bombed forward and Fabio Vieira squared the ball along the box for Eddie Nketiah to tap home.
Two very quickly became three when Vieira grabbed one for himself after 39 minutes, using the acres of space he was afforded on the edge of the box to exquisitely curl one into the top corner.
The 3-0 scoreline flattered Lyon heading into the break in truth, with Arsenal looking incredibly sharp and their opponents looking the exact opposite.
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Laurent Blanc would’ve had plenty to say to his Lyon side at the interval, and while they were better in the second half, Arsenal still dominated proceedings. Substitute Marquinhos almost made it 4-0 after 55 minutes, but saw his curled effort tipped onto the crossbar.
Marquinhos missed another brilliant chance to score after an hour, when he swivelled on a loose ball but only found the side-netting from his shot. But with three goals already bundled in and the game essentially decided, Arteta called for mass change, effectively switching the entire XI.
The now very young Gunners almost made it 4-0 after winning possession from a goal kick that was played short, but a rather frantic sequence of defending just about saw the ball away for a corner.
With this being the highly regarded Dubai Super Cup (totally not sarcastic) there was a customary penalty shootout to follow the full-time whistle, with an extra point up for grabs. Arsenal won 2-1, but the highlights were two admittedly awful Panenka efforts from Catalin Cirjan and Rayan Cherki – the latter of whom looked like he’d given up halfway through his run-up.
GK: Karl Hein – 8/10 – With Aaron Ramsdale still at the World Cup, Hein got the nod, but didn’t have much to do. Clean display and three brilliant saves in the penalty shootout.
RB: Cedric Soares – 7/10 – Complimented Vieira well, going up inside to the half space and consistently providing a key pass.
CB: Rob Holding – 6/10 – Very composed display. Can be an asset with the games coming thick and fast following the conclusion of the World Cup.
CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Dominant performance from front to back.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – Looked sharp and incredibly fit; the most important thing for Tierney considering his worrying injury record.
DM: Mohamed Elneny – 6/10 – Swept up at the base of midfield very well – although Lyon didn’t ask too much of him.
DM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6/10 – Deployed in the newfound Granit Xhaka role with the instructions being to get forward and join the attack to create overloads. Found himself in front of goal with chances to score as a result, but lacked conviction.
RW: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Stretched the pitch well to create gaps in a slow Lyon defence and moved the ball smartly. Lovely, consistent weight of pass which grabbed him an early assist. Playing him as an inverted winger could be key moving forward.
AM: Martin Odegaard – 8/10 – Really strutted his stuff. No Lyon player could get near the Norwegian, who created chances and sprayed around lovely passes for fun.
LW: Reiss Nelson – 6/10 – Arsenal’s left flank was admittedly a lot less effective than their right. Nelson still enjoyed himself, though, growing in confidence as the game progressed.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 7/10 – Out of the game somewhat until he scored. An easy finish from a square ball, but one that will do Nketiah the world of good. Staked his claim with Gabriel Jesus sidelined after surgery.
Marquinhos – 7/10 – A very bright 45 minutes for the 19-year-old, who looked full of ability as well as intent.
Catalin Cirjan – 4/10 – Tried a panenka in the penalty shootout. It didn’t come off. Nightmare.
Matt Smith – 6/10
Myles Lewis-Skelly – 6/10
Ethan Nwaneri – 6/10
Taylor Foran – 6/10
Amario Cozier-Duberry – 6/10
Nathan Butler-Oyedeji – 6/10
Lino Sousa – 6/10
Reuell Walters – 6/10
Mikel Arteta – 8/10 – Got plenty of minutes into the legs of fringe players who needed them, escaped without having to watch anyone succumb to injury and watched his side put together a very comfortable 90 minute display. A good day at the office.
Player of the Match – Fabio Vieira
Johnson to Toronto, Freese to NYCFC
The MLS transfers are heating up as the 2023 campaign approaches. Here’s everything you missed:
Sean Johnson is headed to Toronto FC.
The Reds signed the goalkeeper as a free agent using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). He joined through the 2024 Major League Soccer season.
“Sean has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, given his club and international career,” Toronto head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley said in a release.
“Sean continues to demonstrate his elite shot-stopping ability, athleticism, and decision-making in important moments and the biggest games.”
Johnson departs New York City FC after five years, where he helped the team lift their first league trophy. He entered the league in 2010 through the MLS SuperDraft, and spent six years with Chicago Fire FC before joining NYCFC.
Overall, he’s recorded 355 regular-season MLS matches.
Matt Freese replaces Sean Johnson at NYCFC.
The Eastern Conference team announced the signing of goalkeeper Matt Freese, just as Johnson joins Toronto FC.
NYCFC completed a trade with the Philadelphia Union for the goalkeeper, in exchange for a guaranteed $350,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). The Union will also receive a percentage of a future transfer fee and could get an additional $400k in conditional GAM.
“We are delighted to have been able to finalize this acquisition and would like to welcome Matt to New York,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a release.
“He is an extremely talented American goalkeeper who is coming into the best years of his career. He is an excellent shot-stopper, and we believe is ready to take the next step in his career and we are excited to see his continued development at NYCFC.”
Freese previously served as the backup goalkeeper at the Union, standing behind Andre Blake.
Inter Miami have loaned winger Emerson Rodriguez to Liga MX’s Santos Laguna through the end of 2023.
He departs after one goal in 22 league appearances for Inter Miami, and three goals for the MLS NEXT Pro affiliate Inter Miami CF II. He’s expected to see a lot more playing time under Eduardo Fentanes, as Santos Laguna’s squad needs bolstering.
Austin FC have signed Amro Tarek through the 2023 MLS season with an option for 2024.
He last played for Al Masry SC in the Egyptian Premier League, moving overseas in 2021 after two-and-a-half seasons at the New York Red Bulls. He also saw loan spells with Columbus Crew in 2016 and Orlando City SC in 2018, contributing to two goals and one assist across 66 MLS regular-season appearances.
The versatile defender can also play left back.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to play for Austin FC and to help the team toward its goal of winning trophies this season,” Tarek said in a release. “Everything I have seen about the club, from the fans and the facilities to the players and the coaching staff, has been first-class, and I can’t wait to get started.
“I’m also very grateful to my former club, and for their understanding of my family situation and why this move made sense for me at this time. I look forward to getting started.”
Tarek will not occupy an international roster spot since he was born in the United States.
“Amro is an athletic, left-footed center back who adds another option to our talented group of defenders as we prepare to compete in four different competitions during the 2023 season,” Austin interim sporting director Sean Rubio said in a release.
“We wish him a warm welcome to the club and to the city of Austin.”
Moises Caicedo appears to post farewell message to Brighton
Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo appeared to post a farewell message to the club on Friday night, only hours after Arsenal had a £60m bid rejected.
The Seagulls, who are sixth in the Premier League, have no interest in selling Caicedo this month and 90min has reported they are not looking to entertain further bids.
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi seemed to suggest on at his Friday press conference that Caicedo’s preference would be to leave but that he and the club are trying to persuade him otherwise.
“I spoke with him on Wednesday and I told him my opinion. It is always difficult to change during the season. For our way, it is important for him to stay a few more months,” De Zerbi explained.
“He is relaxed. I spoke with him like a father, not a coach. I understand when one player has the possibility to change to a very big team. But my work is to give the style of play but also advice for his career and his life.”
Speaking about his own future recently, Caicedo had said that his focus is on Brighton.
“I am here, I’m playing every day. Things from outside don’t trouble me, nor does it take that focus away because I’m focussed only on here,” he commented.
Yet taking to social media now, Caicedo made clear a desire to leave Brighton and speaking of his pride at being able to bring in a huge fee in what came across as an attempt to force the club’s hand.
“I am grateful to Mr. Bloom and Brighton for giving me the chance to come to the Premier League and I feel I have always done my best for them. I always play football with a smile and with heart. I am the youngest of 10 siblings from a poor upbringing in Santa Domingo in Ecuador,” he posted.
“My dream always to be the most decorated player in the history of Ecuador. I am proud to be able to bring in a record transfer fee for Brighton which would allow them to reinvest it and help the club continue to be successful.
“The fans have taken me into their hearts and they will always be in my heart so I hope they can understand why I want to take up this magnificent opportunity.”
On this edition of TCOAG, Harry Symeou is joined by Arsenal presenter Nicole Holliday to preview Man City vs Arsenal in the FA Cup, discuss the transfer window, our midfield needs, Leandro Trossard & more! A more informal preview show than usual but it was plenty of fun! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Everything you need to know about the Hollywood-backed club
Wrexham are gearing up for one of the biggest games in their club history when they face Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
The Welsh side have grown exponentially in recent years following the arrival of Hollywood players Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, with a documentary series also raising the profile of the club.
There has been plenty of on-pitch progress too, with some big signings being made in the past couple of season.
Here’s what you need to know about the club.
Wrexham host Sheffield United in the fourth round of the 2022/23 FA Cup with both sides in brilliant form. Wrexham are top of the National League as they target promotion back to the Football League, while the Blades are second in the Championship.
It’s the first time Wrexham have reached the fourth round since 1997. The two teams last met in 2014 when United edged a five-goal thriller – Phil Jagielka was among the scorers that day.
Phil Parkinson is the current manager at Wrexham, having taken charge of the club back in 2021. He began his managerial career with Colchester United and had roles with Hull and Charlton before a five-year spell with Bradford.
City achieved promotion as League Two play-off winners in 2012/13, also unexpectedly reaching the League Cup final at Wembley that season.
Parkinson then managed over 150 games for Bolton before resigning in August 2019. He was snapped up by Sunderland a few months later but lasted little more than a year before leaving.
He arrived at Wrexham in July 2021 and took the Welsh side to the FA Trophy final where they were defeated by Bromley in May 2022. The were imminently knocked out of the play-offs by Grimsby at the semi-final stage.
Paul Mullin in undoubtedly Wrexham’s main danger in attack. After boshing in the goals for Cambridge United, the striker dropped down the pyramid to sign for the Robins and has delivered goal after goal.
The physical Ollie Palmer is dangerous up front, too, with 13 league goals this season, while Ben Tozer and goalkeeper Mark Howard are important players in their defence.
Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian-American actor renowned for roles in films like Deadpool, Free Guy and Red Notice.
He is thought to have a net worth of around $150m. He has a stake Aviation Gin though unclear how big, having sold the company recently for $610m, and co-founded Maximum Effort Productions and Maximum Effort Marketing.
He’s also involved in Mint Mobile.
Rob McElhenney is an American actor, writer and producer most well known for the comedy show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which he co-created alongside Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton.
What is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is an American sitcom that centres around a group of narcissitic and self-obsessed friends who run an Irish pub in south Philadelphia. McElhenney is known for playing Ronald “Mac” McDonald.
It stars the aforementioned McElhenney, Howerton and Day as well as Kaitlin Olson, who McElhenney married in 2008, and acting legend Danny DeVito.
Rob McElhenney’s fascination with Wrexham began with Mythic Quest writer Humphrey Ker, who revealed he got the actor into the spot during lunch breaks.
“I’m laying claim to the fact (Rob’s) interest in football derives from several years of teasing me for watching football during our lunch breaks at work. Until eventually, just by pure osmosis, I got him interested in the game to the degree that he decides to buy a football team,” Ker said.
Wrexham had been fan owned since 2011 but the supporters’ trust voted McElhenney and Reynolds’ takeover bid through with 98% in favour.
The pair took total control through RR McReynolds Company LLC and made an initial £2m investment under the terms of the deal in early 2021.
Wrexham is a Welsh town close to the Welsh/English border. The club is well renowned for being one of the oldest professional teams in world football. They nearly folded as recently as 2011, though fan action kept the institution afloat.
The place is known for being a mining town and was previously a rock-solid seat in United Kingdom political elections for Labour, but in 2019 a Conservative MP was voted in.
Welcome to Wrexham is available exclusively on Disney+ in the United Kingdom, while viewers in the United States can view the show through streaming platform Hulu.
When is the next series?
Wrexham owners Reynolds and McElhenney confirmed on social media the show would return for a second series. It will likely come after the 2022/23 football season finishes.
The biggest result in Wrexham’s history came in the FA Cup in 1992 when they upset First Division Championship winners Arsenal at the Racecourse.
Alan Smith’s opener was cancelled out by Mickey Thomas’ awesome free kick before Steve Watkin slid in the winner.
They reached the first round of the FA Cup in 2021/22, while the year before they were dumped out in the fourth qualifying round by Solihull Moors.
Wrexham’s ground is the Racecourse Ground. It’s the world’s oldest international football stadium that still hosts international matches and the fifth largest stadium in Wales. It has a current capacity of 10,771, though in 1957, 34,445 spectators watched as Wrexham faced Manchester United.
It was first opened in 1807 and has been Wrexham’s home since 1864.
Johnson to Toronto, Freese to NYCFC
Moises Caicedo appears to post farewell message to Brighton
Everything you need to know about the Hollywood-backed club
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