Arsenal may well have lost out in the Emirates Cup clash to Lyon yesterday but for boss Unai Emery there was more to like than dislike about how the Gunners went about their business against the Ligue 1 outfit.
A defeat is never great even in a pre-season friendly match and especially seeing as there was silverware, in the shape of the Emirates Cup, up for grabs. But there was enough about the young Arsenal line-up that suggested good things are around the corner for the north London side. Indeed, they may even be worth a punt as they gear up for the new season and the chase of silverware.
Arsenal went ahead through none other than striker supreme Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — he didn’t share last season’s top scorer award with Liverpool’s ace Mo Salah for nothing! But the Frenchman snatched an unlikely win thanks to former Fulham attacker Moussa Dembele’s two goals after the break. His second goal came after 18-year-old Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli, recruited in the summer from Ituano FC for £6million, seemed to have put the Gunners 2-1 ahead but the goal was ruled as an offside strike and play went up the other end and ex-Celtic hitman Dembele struck.
Martinelli was just one of a crop of youngsters who stood out, with special focus falling on Reiss Nelson — back at his parent club after a season-long loan at Bundesliga side Hoffenheim — who dazzled with his tricky play along the wings and caused the Lyon defenders problems throughout the sun-kissed encounter.
As well as promising starlets, Emery called on new boy Dani Ceballos, on loan from Real Madrid for a season, in the second half. And he could soon be welcoming another new face to the Emirates Stadium with reports suggesting the club are close to a £72million deal with Lille to lure Nicolas Pepe, the Ivory Coast winger who is 24.
And Emery explained that the deal inches ever closer. He told the cub’s official website:
“We are working and also thinking about how we can improve. There are different players on the table with the possibility that we can achieve their signature. Pepe is a very good player and we are thinking only of players who can really, really improve this squad and also give us some different conditions to improve.
“We’re working for the last few weeks and before starting the season in the first match in Newcastle. Our aim is to get the best team with the best players in our squad.”
Arsenal are next in pre-season action when they travel to France to play Angers FC on Wednesday and then head to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona next Sunday.