Arsenal’s USA tour concluded on Wednesday as they lit up the SoFi stadium in LA following an instrumental victory against defending La Liga champions Barcelona. The Catalans took the lead twice in the first half but Arsenal managed to jump off the rope and produce a memorable comeback. Arsenal looked in better touch than the last time around vs Manchester United.
Arsenal were the better side and could’ve prevented the early goals they conceded. Suffocating them with the press, sharp linkup play to create the goals and most importantly the decisiveness in the final third was the difference maker in the tie (although that could be associated with this was the Gunners’ fourth pre-season game while Barcelona were only playing their first). Regardless of that being said, it’ll be a confidence booster for this young Arsenal team heading back to England.
Impressive displays from Saka, Havertz and a splendid Trossard brace helped Arsenal secure the bag in an eventful night.
Here are a few exciting things we noticed in the pre-season clash:
1. Silent killer, Havertz!
Kai Havertz oozed confidence tonight. Irrespective of the goal, his overall involvement, understanding the rotations, knowing when to drop in to act as and play passes was top. Finding space is his specialty and using that quality inside the box is going to do Arsenal wonders.
Think this is something we might see quite a few times this season – Havertz attacking the back post when Saka is on the right wing. It was never Xhaka’s game but it comes so naturally to Havertz. His goal was from being in that position as soon as Saka had space. Moves like a proper striker.
MUST WATCH: Kai Havertz vs Barcelona
2. Thomas Partey ~ The Nucleus:
There’s no chance we can joke with Partey. He just offers so much to the team and holds the team. He makes the others around him benefit when he’s on the pitch. Always seems to be in the right position to receive the ball, absolute monster in intercepting play today. Hardly anyone in world football who can consistently play line breaking verticals and complete such high pass completion success.
Thomas today played like he has this competition on his back and has to prove himself. Good competition can do wonders to players and this might just be the case with Partey come next season as regards with the quality depth Arsenal have in his position.
3. Trossard being the Focal Point:
Yet again its Leo’s decisiveness, versatility and decision making that made him the MVP for the night netting a brace. Whether he starts as a winger, an 8 or a false 9; he is the star man. Trossard, Gabriel Jesus & Kai Havertz were interchanging position based on where the possession of the ball is and who is involved around – this inter-changing links is going to cause havoc to prevent. Leo played as the false 9 and Jesus started on the wing which freedom to roam.
Very efficient with their ability to press and link up potently. The fact that Trossard costed only €26M is what an actual definition of a bargain is. Its Arteta’s headache to find a way to squeeze Trossard into the starting XI somehow.
MUST WATCH: Leandro Trossard vs Barcelona – Sensational Display
4. Timber tested at LB:
Arsenals newest recruit this time was deployed on the left flank and he had no hesitation settling in. Aggressive in defence and smart in possession. Had Raphinha in his pocket throughout the first half. The Dutchman, who didn’t take time on proceedings, is a serious option for Arteta across the back four. It’s going to be difficult to keep him out of the eleven with him impressing all the chances he gets in an Arsenal shirt.
It’s not only the defence, a couple of times he carried the ball seamlessly through press to lead Arsenal on the front foot.
MUST WATCH: JURRIEN TIMBER vs Barcelona | Solid Performance 🔴
5. Odegaard with a more offensive role:
A solid hour from the skipper, who led the press and technically set up Havertz for his goal, although it wasn’t the Norwegian’s best night under the light; struggled defensively, gave the ball away for the first goal and turned his back for the second. But his position is what intrigued me, Mikel preferred Kai to be more offensive in all other pre-season games with Odegaard given a rather defensive 8 role but that changed against Barcelona, where Havertz was dropping in deep and Martin was linking up ahead till the ball is across in the box where Havertz comes from far post and Odegaard takes a central position.
Top performance against a top team meant that Arsenal finish their pre-season tour of the United States on a high.