Arsenal beat Lyon 3-0 in a match in Dubai on Thursday as those players who were not involved in the World Cup in Qatar began their preparations for the return of the Premier League later this month.
All his goals at the Al Maktoum Stadium came in the first half. Gabriel opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a header from a corner before Eddie Nketiah and Fabio Vieira added quick-fire tries in the 33rd and 39th minutes.
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Despite being without 10 players who have played with their national teams in Qatar, Mikel Arteta made the strongest lineup from those players who remained. Captain Martin Odegaard, winger Reiss Nelson and midfielders Mohamed Elneny and Sambi Lokonga also start in front of the back four of Cedric, Gabriel, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney.
Lyon’s line-up under former France coach Laurent Blanc featured ex-Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette but the 31-year-old failed to find the net against his former employers before scoring in the second half.
Both teams made wholesale changes in the second half, with Arteta calling on several members of Arsenal’s under-21 squad, although there were no further goals.
As part of the Dubai Super Cup, a penalty shoot-out took place after full time, with Arsenal winning 2-1 thanks to three saves from midfielder Karl Hein to earn an extra point.
“It’s our first game here since I’ve been manager and it’s a great experience,” Arteta said. “Thank you very much to everyone involved for making this possible. I’m really happy because we won and played at a good level.”
Arsenal will conclude their participation in the exhibition competition when they face Serie A champions AC Milan on Tuesday. Liverpool are the fourth team in the competition.
Arteta’s side, who go into the World Cup break five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, will resume their league campaign against West Ham on Boxing Day.
Arsenal will be without Gabriel Jesus when the competition returns after the striker underwent knee surgery following an injury suffered in Brazil’s World Cup friendly with Cameroon. While no official timetable for his return has been set, sources told ESPN that he is likely to be sidelined for three months.
“We know he needs some intervention in the knee,” Arteta said after the win over Lyon. “We will have to take it day by day, week by week and see [where] you save us.”
On the question of whether Arsenal will be looking for a replacement in the January transfer window, Arteta added: “The only thing is who we are as a club because he gave us a lot, so what can we do after that, when we know the time first. [of his recovery] and when we can recover, we will look at the options and try to make the right decision.”