It was finally time for Barca to return to the field.
After a stomach virus ravaged the squad, forcing the club to cancel their scheduled opening match against Juventus, Barca fans were eagerly awaiting the return of their club.
As usual, there weren’t many conclusions to draw even from the beginning, since this was the first preseason match with new players after all. But the chance to see the new squad in action was a draw in itself.
So how did Barca fare against one of England’s best sides last season?
Let’s find out.
The first half was a wild one to say the least.
There was plenty of action from both sides, as both appeared in the mood for a contested match of the friendly variety in the beautiful Los Angeles. However, unfortunately for Barca, Arsenal appeared more in the mood to wreak havoc.
Arsenal controlled the possession more early on, while also disrupting Barca’s will to control the tempo.
To be fair though, this was Barca’s first preseason match while this was Arsenal’s 3rd, so judgements regarding the team’s performance is extremely immature.
Nonetheless, there was still football to be played, and lucky for us a lot of exciting football was given to us.
Lewandowski opens the scoring
It was Barca who opened the scoring.
The action began with a quick combo of defensive work to attack from Ez Abde — who had a really good first half, doing double duties in the attack and tracking back defensively — who showed off his patented dribbling down the left flank.
Once he found himself near William Salbia, Abde turned on the pace and got himself in a good spot to cause danger. He then served a cutback into the penalty area, found Raphinha whose eventual shot was saved, then as the ball bounced around, it was Lewandowski who cleaned it up by poaching an easy goal.
It was important for Abde to get off to a good start, so his preseason hype could be met. He did just that, and if he continues doing so throughout the rest of the preseason, then Barca will have to hold on to Abde unless a very good offer comes in.
It already sounds like a better idea to hold on to him, since his 1v1 ability is something that isn’t easily accessible. But Barca’s ongoing financial situation might still warrant a sale at the end of the day. Although recent reports suggest that might not be necessary.
Back to the football though, and it was Arsenal who responded quickly to Lewandowski’s opening goal.
Saka answers quickly
This goal was the result of some laziness by Barca at the back.
They were trying to play it out the back after a turnover by Arsenal, but Andreas Christensen’s errant touch placed the ball in Bukayo Saka’s wheelhouse, which was then converted cleanly to draw the match level.
It was a clear mistake from Christensen, but there wasn’t much time to dwell on it as there was still more football to be played.
Raphinha runs into some luck
The third goal of the match was a bit of a weird one.
Barca won a free kick outside the penalty area, but in an area where Raphinha could whip in a cross, or send a powerful shot on goal. Raphinha chose the latter, but the result wasn’t something you’d call textbook.
Raphinha’s free kick took a deflection off an Arsenal player, into the back of the net past a diving Ramsdale.
Like previously mentioned, it wasn’t the most textbook of goals. But Barca will take it either way, even during this hotly contested preseason match. Ironically enough, that was Barca’s first goal from a direct free kick in a year and some change.
It doesn’t count because it’s preseason, but it’s still funny enough to mention it.
This wasn’t the last of the scoring though, as Arsenal once again responded to a moment of positivity for Barca.
This goal was pretty embarrassing to watch.
It all started with Saka, who blazed down the right flank, where he was met by Marcos Alonso. Now Alonso isn’t the best of players, but surely he could at least uphold his dignity against a young and talented Saka right?
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.
Saka threw Alonso to the ground, seemingly treating him like a piece of rubbish on the ground. After that, he sent a cross in to the waiting head of Martin Ødegaard. Ødegaard’s header then went to the left foot of Kai Havertz, who smashed in the easy tap in goal to bring the match level once again.
It’s the first preseason match, so sensitivity in the penalty area isn’t going to be as sharp. But you would’ve liked to see Barca be a bit more responsive to the danger actions made by Arsenal’s front line, especially the one on Arsenal’s second goal.
But everyone is still getting their feelings back into order, so there isn’t much blame to go around.
Halftime arrived, and for Barca, it was a much needed arrival.
Much of the starting 11 had done their work and needed to give way to more players looking to shine in the second half.
Any sort of result wouldn’t matter, but for the fans in attendance, I’m sure they would’ve liked to see Barca pull out a win.
The second half was more Arsenal dominant, as Barca wielded a brand new starting 11 in the fresh half. But despite that, Barca had some moments of brilliance of their own.
A Trossard beauty
This time though, it was Leandro Trossard who stole the show, as he capped off a good second half with a couple of goals. The first one was pretty unfortunate for Jules Kounde, as Trossard tried to lull him to sleep with some lagging dribbling towards Barca’s net.
But unfortunately for Kounde, Trossard’s shot went through his legs and past the outstretched arm of Iñaki Peña.
It was now 3-2 Arsenal.
This wasn’t the last time we saw Trossard on the score sheet though, as previously mentioned.
Trossard’s second was a bit of a weird goal, but not really in a sense.
It was Kieran Tierney who bombed down the left side, sent in a bit of a cross/lofted pass, and found the running leg of Trossard whose momentum carried the ball into the net past Peña again.
That goal came off a transition spell for Arsenal, which was started after a brilliant switch of play from Bukayo Saka. Unfortunate for Barca, but it was a deserved goal at the end of the day.
Ferran Torres confidence builder
Barca found a goal back, this time via a good finish from Ferran Torres.
Dembele was the one who began it all, as his run — aided by Torres picking Rob Holding’s pocket — sucked in the Arsenal defense, leaving Torres with a 1v1 chance against Ramsdale. Torres slipped his shot past Ramsdale, as the Arsenal keeper chose the wrong way to dive, leaving Torres with a pretty easy finish in retrospect.
The goal gave Barca some life in terms of coming away with a draw, but as we found out minutes later, a draw would be out of Barca’s reach.
Fabio Viera with a stunner
The goal of the night came from Fabio Viera, who unleashed a curling left footed effort from distance, to seal Arsenal’s win in the last match of their USA tour.
There isn’t much to say here, other than the goal was simply beautiful and oozed of pure class. There was nothing Peña could do on this one, so no fault to him there.
To draw any conclusions from this match would be completely outrageous.
Barca and Arsenal are farther apart in fitness development, as well as cohesiveness, so you can’t really judge Barca’s current form by the result of this match. What you can do though, is point out some obvious standouts and underwhelming performances.
Ez Abde was as advertised, which is really promising for the development of Barca’s left wing efficiency this season. I thought Ansu Fati looked good too, with his dribbling and fluid football on display as well.
Ousmane Dembele also had a very good second half cameo against a mostly intact Arsenal defense.
Alejandro Balde was brilliant as well, as his pace and instincts on the ball helped provide some electricity and stability on the left side. Which connected well with Fati, another good sign.
The midfield bodies looked a little out of sync, which is to be expected at this point. Their chemistry will be fun to see develop over the next few months of play.
Now the low lifers were obvious, as Marcos Alonso and Sergiño Dest both had terrible cameos. Alonso was probably worse than Dest, but not by much at all. In. Dest’s case, it’s another disappointing showing in a Barca shirt, which makes you wonder if the club will be able to ship him off in the future.
Alonso’s cameo was more alarming though, since he’ll be the cover for Alejandro Balde this season. If Balde goes down with an injury or gets suspended, then it’ll be Alonso who’ll have to fill in.
And if that has to happen, then we’ll be in for a doozy.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Saturday morning — Saturday afternoon for the western side of the world — as the Blaugrana will take on Real Madrid in Las Vegas.
See you all then!