Arsenal’s preparations for the return of competitive club football will ramp up in the coming weeks, as the Gunners, along with several other European clubs, take part in friendly matches at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, UAE. They’ll take on French side Lyon in the first of these games, before facing AC Milan five days later.
The Gunners are the team to beat in the Premier League so far, leading the way by five points over the World Cup break. Mikel Arteta’s side’s closest challengers are Manchester City after 14 games played, and this month-long mid-season break will hopefully give Arsenal the best possible preparation to successfully see out a title charge in the remaining 24.
Arsenal’s first game back comes against West Ham on Boxing Day, where they’ll look to add to their healthy lead at the top of the Premier League. The Gunners have topped the league at Christmas five times previous, failing to eventually win the title in all five of those. A good start to the resumption is exactly what Arteta and his side need in order to make it sixth time lucky, and these friendlies could end up playing a significant part in their preparation to do so.
Lyon will be no easy-beats though, with the French side no strangers to an upset, particularly over English sides. Whilst this is of course an uncompetitive match, Lyon famously dumped current Premier League champions Manchester City out of the Champions League two seasons ago, and have the bulk of their squad available for this game, with only Nicolas Tagliafico and Karl Toro Ekambi away on World Cup duty.