6 talking points as Arsenal win eight-goal thriller vs Barcelona

The Gunners will travel back to England with an impressive win over Barcelona their final memory from their pre-season tour of the United States, after a poor run of results

Arsenal bounced back from their disappointing loss to Manchester United to beat Barcelona 5-3 in Los Angeles.

It was another sloppy start from the Gunners as Robert Lewandowski tapped in from close range following a blistering run from Abde Ezzalzouli. Bukayo Saka quickly hit back as he capitalised on a mistake from Andres Christensen, but minutes later missed the chance to put Arsenal ahead as he dragged a penalty wide following a handball from Ronald Araujo.

A deflected free-kick found its way in after Raphinha’s effort struck Martin Odegaard, but Kai Havertz was in the right place at the right time to level the scores just before half time. Leandro Trossard scored early into the second half to hand Arsenal their first lead of the night, as his powerful effort found the bottom-right corner.

Kieran Tierney came off the bench to set up Trossard for his second of the game, as the Belgian this time found the bottom-left corner with his last touch of the game before being taken off. There was still time for two more goals though, as Ferran Torres made Arsenal sweat as he pulled one back with two minutes to go.

However, almost instantly Fabio Vieira curled in a beautiful effort to restore their two-goal lead, saving the best goal of the night until last. It was an improved performance from Arsenal who have struggled in pre-season, with their only win before Wednesday night coming against MLS All-Stars. Six talking points from the game at SoFi Stadium below…

 

Rice misses out with injury concern

Declan Rice was a notable omission from the matchday squad to face Barcelona, despite taking part in pre-match media duties. The £105million record signing is reportedly suffering from a tight calf, and wasn’t risked by Mikel Arteta.

It was a good job too, as the game against Barcelona was a lot more feisty than expected, with three yellow cards being handed out in the first half alone. Folarin Balogun was also absent, but Arteta will be hoping that Rice’s injury isn’t too serious with just weeks to go until the start of the Premier League season.

Saka suffers mixed emotions

Saka was at the centre of everything for Arsenal going forward, scoring inside 14 minutes and creating a goal for Havertz with Jesus. But the 21-year-old also had a moment to forget as he dragged a penalty kick wide of the right-hand post.

Saka had the chance to hand Arsenal the lead after Lewandowski’s early opener, but scuffed his penalty to the annoyance of Mikel Arteta who complained about the poor surface before the game. Pieces of the artificial turf were disconnected all over the field, and Saka instantly looked down at the makeshift penalty spot after missing.

Timber trialled in new role

Jurrien Timber may have been signed as a centre-back, but Arteta started the new arrival at left-back as he stuck with Gabriel and William Saliba in the middle. It was unfamiliar territory for the Dutchman, but he may have to be flexible next season.

Arsenal continue to combat Kieran Tierney’s fitness record after he was initially signed as their main left-back, and Oleksandr Zinchenko spent most of last season filling in the role. Arteta moved Ben White to right-back last season, meaning it could happen again with Timber if he sees fit.

Havertz plays further forward

Havertz has spent most of his time at Arsenal as a central midfielder after arriving from Chelsea this summer, but the German was finally unleashed in a No. 10 role against Barcelona. With Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard either side, Havertz had more freedom to roam forward, and managed to bag a goal before half time.

The German has played as a centre-forward, a winger, and a midfielder during his time in the Premier League, with his versatility a huge asset for Arteta’s plans moving forward. But he was in the right place at the right time to get on the scoresheet, and it may get the Arsenal boss thinking.

Ramsdale’s poor form continues.

Aaron Ramsdale has been under the spotlight this pre-season, as the England international has made an array of errors in goal for Arsenal. Ramsdale was again at fault as he was left scrambling across his goal to try and save Raphinha’s deflected free-kick, but couldn’t reach it in time.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a stunning 2022/23 season, and was a large part of Arsenal’s title charge before eventually being thrown off by Manchester City. Ramsdale is without a doubt Arteta’s No. 1, and has earned his place since joining the club in August 2021. But he will need to return to his best by the time the new season rolls around.

Trossard takes his chance

Trossard made an impact after signing for Arsenal in January, arriving from fellow Premier League side Brighton. The Belgian had to settle for life on the bench for parts of last season, but proved how important he can be against Barcelona.

Two goals for Trossard reminded Arteta that he has another offensive weapon at his disposal, adding to the pool of young talent already in the squad. Arsenal have strengthened in other areas this summer by signing Timber and Rice, and will be confident going into next season.