By Bulldog Drummond
The second Arsenal game since the 0-2 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 12 November takes place at 3.30pm this Thursday.
The media are already setting up their Arsenal Crisis story with headlines about Arsenal having been beaten in first friendly upon return from mid-season break for World Cup (the Express) in the game against Watford.
That was not an unreasonable choice of opposition in fact since the clubs have training facilities very close to each other.
In fact Arsenal were comfortably in a 2-0 lead with goals from Eddie Nketiah and Marquinhos by half time, but then changed the entire team and put out a reserve team for the second half while Watford maintained their first team squad, and not surprisingly knocked in enough goals to give them the match.
The Arsenal team for the first half was
Cedric, Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Tierney
Elneny, Sambi Lokonga
Martin Odegaard, Reiss Nelson, Marquinhos
with Nketiah and Marquinhos scoring the Arsenal goals.
The next game is on Thursday, December 8 against Lyon kicking off at 3.30pm UK time. After that there is a game against Serie A champions AC Milan on Tuesday, December 13, kicking off at 2pm UK time.
To watch the game on Arsenal.com will cost £9.99 for the two matches or £5.99 for each one although I should add that the games are not available to supporters in the Middle East and North Africa Viewers in France, Monaco and Andorra can’t watch the Lyon game and viewers in Italy can’t watch the Milan game in this way – although I suspect there are local TV stations offering the matches in each case.
What makes these games interesting is that as the lineup against Watford shows, Arsenal do have a strong set of players who have not been enticed by Fifa and all its corruption.
Our opposition, Olympique Lyonnais, are a real Jekyll and Hyde team, having a very decent home form (five wins, two draws and one defeat, with 16 goals scored and six conceded) but an awful away form with just one win and a draw, plus five defeats.
They sit eighth in the league after 15 games and are 20 points behind the league leaders PSG. By comparison in the Premier League, Chelsea are eighth in the Premier league and are 16 points behind Arsenal. So worse, but not extraordinarily awful.
However their recent run of form really has been awful: six defeats, two draws and two wins in the last ten games.
|1||Paris Saint Germain||15||6||1||0||19||7||7||1||0||24||2||+34||41|
We can now compare Arsenal’s away form and Lyon’s home form as we normally do for league games.
|4||Olympique Lyonnair home||8||5||2||1||16||6||10||17|
In fact the two teams are incredibly well-matched when analysed in this way.
Probably the thing most of us old-timers know about Olympique Lyonnais is that between June 2011 and June 2014 Remi Garde (who was Arsene Wenger’s first signing at Arsenal) was their manager. The manager now is Laurent Blanc, who you may recall played almost 100 games for France.
The French league this season is pretty much like every season, and PSG will of course win (they probably have that written in the constitution by now).
I am assuming that the game will be played in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, (it is a little difficult to get confirmed details) which is a 59,000 seater stadium in Décines-Charpieu. The club was a member of the G14, and a founder member of the European Club Association.
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