This is probably the weirdest post match blog I’ve ever written. Weird in the fact that at the time of writing, the friendly game in LA against Barcelona only finished about an hour ago and because I was in bed for the actual game (It’s a school night for me, kids), it feels a little strange trying to piece together bits of the game with very little data out there given how fresh the match is. Which is kind of why I am not really calling it a ‘post match review’, because I can’t really do much reviewing at all.

I’ll give it a go based on what I have read so far though, as well as what I thought when I first saw that we had swatted aside Barcelona with a 5-3 victory in the SoFi Stadium. Except by the sounds of it we didn’t exactly ‘swat’ by the looks of the scoreline, with a Fabio Vieira (who I was having to do a bit of defending of last night on the Same Old Arsenal podcast) goal right at the death making the score line a little more impressive and dominant than perhaps it would have been had we just notched a 4-3 thriller.

Then, as I was reading the match report on the official site, I started to think to myself “how much has the illness in the Barca camp caused an issue for them?”. We know that elite sport is about fine margins and a Barca team who are at 90% will be punished by an Arsenal team who have decided to up the ante with regards to the intensity, and I saw that Kaya Kaynak has reported on some quotes from Xavi talking about the intensity:

He also said he wasn’t surprised by his own teams intensity and perhaps that was a reference to the illness in their team. But much like post the United game we started to look in to why United were intense and the tackles were flying in, perhaps Barca are asking those same questions too. And perhaps the motives were the same as well. I’ve seen a decent take by a couple of people that United had a ‘point to prove’ against us, i.e. that they wanted to show that the gap from last season has reduced, whereas we might have approached the game as a friendly and perhaps dropped our intensity a little. By the sounds of it this game against Barca might have been us with more intensity and perhaps that is what happened this time around; Arteta wasn’t wanting there to be a drop from his team and a potential second defeat in the summer series resulting in a few questions being asked. We all talked about how good we were last season, I have done it many times, spoken about how it helped to set the momentum, so perhaps there was an element of Arteta saying “no slip ups, we go out there and win this well”?

All speculation of course and I’m not even basing this on what my eyes have seen. That also means it is difficult to single out players for praise too, although it sounds as though Trossard played well and bagged himself a couple of goals. I think his is a very interesting case; when he signed in January I think most of us though “hmm, that’s a good bench/rotation option if we pick up some knocks”, but as we have seen since he joined us and definitely this summer, he is making a very loud case for a starting position right now. The challenge he has got is that the two positions where I think he’s most likely to get in are currently occupied by two guys who are some of our best players in Gabriel Jesus through the middle or Martinelli wide left, but Arteta must be getting close to the point where he thinks he simply can’t leave Leo out of the starting XI.

This is fantastic news. We have plenty of games this season and we need a big squad to deal with the demands of that. As it stands if you tell me that on a Saturday in September we’ll need Martinelli from the start in the Premier League, then Trossard on the Tuesday in the Champions League occupying the same position, then I am a-ok with that. But it isn’t just in that position that it feels like we have options. Timber apparently acquitted himself really well in at left back today, then when Tierney came on he also apparently played well too. We also had a decent display by Thomas Partey as Declan Rice had apparently taken a knock.

We didn’t see anything of Balogun this evening and he wasn’t even in the squad, so when you couple that with the fact he’s been training alone, you start to add two and two together. However, Arteta has since said in his post match presser that he had a knock on his foot and so wasn’t available. Of course we all know that it could be smokes and mirrors as a deal edges closer for an exit, but at this moment in time we probably just have to take it at face value, as well as Mikel at his word. It does feel as though something is brewing there though from my perspective. But let’s just wait and see.

We also got another goal from Havertz, which was a cheeky little poachers finish after Odegaard knocked the ball down. I’ve just managed to get the first half goals as I type so can actually talk about that one too! He’s quietly bagged a couple this pre season, picking up spaces in the box and hopefully that is a glimpse of what we’re going to get in the upcoming season.

And just as I wrap up today, another shout out for Bukayo Saka, who once again looked on it and ready to go. I’ve heard ESR looked sharp too, which is good to hear and just adds more weight to the fact that we’ve got a very good squad that feels like it is taking shape. The team now jump on the plane to head home to Blighty ahead of next Wednesday’s home game against Monaco and I suspect Arteta will give them a day or so off given that it says on the official site that the team is flying straight back today. Get some of that jet lag out of your system boys, then we’ll see you on Wednesday.

Right – that’s me done for today I think. Catch you all tomorrow.