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Arsenal 5-3 Barcelona: Five-Star Gunners End USA Tour on a High

Trossard at the double as Arsenal down Barcelona in pre-season friendly |  Football News - Hindustan Times

Match Report  Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 5-3 Barcelona (Saka 13′, Havertz 43′, Trossard55′, 78′, F. Vieira 89′ | Lewandowski 7′, Raphinha 34′, F. Torres 88′)

Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale; White, Saliba (Kiwior 70′), Gabriel (Holding 84′), Timber (Tierney 70′); Partey (Jorginho 70′), Havertz (Smith Rowe 46′), Odegaard (F. Vieira 62′); Saka (Cozier-Duberry 84′), G. Jesus (Nketiah 79′), Trossard (G. Martinelli 79′)

Arteta stuck to his new look 4-3-3 setup with Aaron Ramsdale in goal, Ben White and Jurrien Timber on the full back positions, with Timber inverting, while the usual William Saliba and Gabriel defensive pairing was at the heart of the defense. Kai Havertz and Martin Odegaard played game two of 55 with Thomas Partey behind them instead of Declan Rice. Leandro Trossard got the nod ahead of Gabriel Martinelli with Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka completing the three-pronged attack.

The last time we played Barcelona was as far back as 2011, when we clashed in that Champions League double header. From the highs of the Andrei Arshavin winner, to the lows of the Robin van Persie red card and crashing out without even firing a shot on target. 

Timber teed up Jesus and fouled by Araujo. The players wanted a red card but the ref waved off the request. If it was the FA, we should be bracing ourselves for yet another fine for failing to control ourselves. Odegaard looped in the resulting free kick, but no one was on hand to attack the ball.

With Arsenal dominating possession, Barcelona took the lead when Abdessamada Ezzalzoli took on White and fed Raphinha on the byline, whose one time shot was saved by Ramsdale but Robert Lewandowski, was on hand to pounce in on the rebound. Gabriel should have done better to anticipate the ball following Ramsdale’s save but his reaction was really lethargic.

Arsenal equalized in rather swift fashion when Andreas Christensen dallied on the ball in the danger area and was robbed by Saka who poked the ball home before Andre ter Stegen could smother the ball.

Arsenal had an opportunity to go ahead almost immediately when Gabriel Jesus had the ball on the edge of the six yard box. With Trossard and Saka available for a pass, Jesus twisted and turned his marker, Oriol Romeu, inside out before drilling the ball beyond Saka’s reach. Saka continued to terrorize Marcos Alonso on the left and lofted the ball to the danger area but his teammates weren’t on the same wavelength.

Arsenal earned a penalty when Odegaard cut the ball back from the byline and Trossard’s first timed shot was blocked by Ronald Araujo’s arm, leaving the ref no choice but to point to the spot. Unfortunately, Saka sent the keeper the wrong way but flashed the ball wide. His previous penalty, which was more costly than this friendly miss, was at Upton Park against West Ham. I hope he sorts out his penalty taking technique right because we would need him to convert them rather than miss.

The frustrations continued to boil over as Trossard earned an unnecessary booking for blocking off ter Stegen when he wanted to launch a counter attack with one of his evil long throws.

Barcelona took the lead in rather unfortunate circumstances, with Raphinha firing a low free kick that deflected off Odegaard beyond the flat-footed Ramsdale. Deflections are part and parcel of the game, but it’s always annoying when your team concedes that way. The game got into a fiery state when Araujo scythed down Havertz with a nasty scissors tackle, leading to the players surrounding the area with an altercation imminent, but the man with the whistle was on hand to calm things down.

Saka continued to make life a living hell for Alonso and Arsenal got their equalizer from that duel, as Saka left the ex-Chelsea full back flat on his arse on the byline, before picking his spot and dinking the ball to Odegaard that was on the penalty box. Odegaard guided his header to Havertz in the six-yard box that prodded the ball home from point blank range. For a player that has been under the microscope from his fans and the haters alike, scoring two goals so far in preseason is a good way to shut them up.

Arsenal almost ended the half ahead when G. Jesus rose the highest to direct Saka’s in-swinging corner goalwards but ter Stegen positioned himself well to make a superb save. Shortly afterwards, Trossard stung the palms of the Barcelona goalie with a left-footed drive that was parried to safety. Arsenal continued to mount the pressure after the break and had a glorious chance to grab the lead when Jesus lofted the ball above Araujo to Saka but the English winger killed a bird in the sky with a gaping goal looking at him.

Barcelona managed to break away from the incessant Arsenal pressure and fashioned a chance for themselves through the Saudi-bound Ousmane Dembele but his effort deflected off Timber over the bar.

There was no denying Arsenal their third goal when Trossard bore down on goal and blasted the ball through Jules Kounde’s legs to send the Arsenal fans in the stadium to raptures. The goal brought the wind to Arsenal’s sails and the Gunners almost had a fourth goal when Emile Smith Rowe reacted the quickest to Saka’s intelligent short pass but Inaki Pena showed great reflexes to make a superb save. Ansu Fati was full of energy after coming into the pitch and he created a good chance for Dembele but the Frenchman’s shot clipped Ramsdale’s post to keep the scoreline intact.

Arsenal made it four when Kieran Tierney made a foray forward and drilled the ball with some pace to Trossard’s path, and the Belgian maverick showed off his amazing technique to guide the ball sweetly to Pena’s net. Trossard justified his start ahead of Gabriel Martinelli with a breathtaking display, giving his manager something to think about ahead of the new campaign.

Barcelona wasn’t prepared to roll over and play dead, despite being two goals down, and they almost reduced the deficit when Alejandro Balde got some space in the box and smashed the cross bar with a fierce shot that beat Ramsdale hands down. Barcelona got rewarded for their late flurry forward when Dembele laced up a pass in behind Jakub Kiwior and Tierney, and Ferran Torres showed his predatory instincts to side-foot the ball past Ramsdale to make it 4-3.

The fans and neutrals alike were extremely entertained with the quality of football on display, but the final goal by Fabio Vieira was the cream of the crop, latching onto a carefully-threaded ball from Martinelli before curling the ball past Pena to make it 5-3.

The Gunners had quite a great time in the United States and the feel-good vibes are still on the display, with the only blip being the defeat to the arch-enemy, Manchester United.

All roads will lead to the Emirates Cup clash at London with Monaco, before the Premier League curtain raiser against the treble-winning juggernaut, Manchester City.


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Well, That was Some Comeback From FC Barcelona

With Arsenal eliminated from the Champions League, it was only normal for a football enthusiast like me to take some sorta pleasure watching the other matches in the competition with some keen focus on the Barcelona vs PSG game. Luis Enrique put up a very attacking lineup with the aim of scoring as much goals as possible. he even ‘joked’ in his presser that if PSG could score four goals, his lads are capable of scoring six goals.

The game began with a rather frantic pace and with just two minutes gone, Luis Suarez showed great anticipation to nick in a loose ball past Kevin Trapp across the goal line and even though Meunier managed to clear it off, goal line technology took center stage as the goal was awarded to the Catalans. That certainly rattled PSG but the home side had some much more in store for them. The Parisiens did their bit to defend in numbers but the home side got an all-important second goal before half time when Layvin Kurzawa deflected Andres Iniesta’s flick into his goal.

At half time, PSG’s lead was halved and panic started setting in but their misery was compounded when Muenier slipped on the turf and impeded a clever Neymar. Lionel Messi had not influenced the game as much as he would have liked but he had a chance to put his team three up from the spot and he did with aplomb despite Trapp’s best efforts to dive the right way.

With Barcelona leading 3-0, it was looking like fairytale stuff as no team in the competition’s history had overturned a four goal deficit. As fate would have it, Kurzawa attacked the ball and threaded it to Edinson Cavani’s path. The Uruguayan hot shot blasted in his 38th goal of the season with a clinical finish using the edge of his boot. This goal set Barcelona to despair as they now needed a whooping six goals to qualify.

They kept on trying and with just three minutes left to play, Neymar swung in a beautiful free kick that beat Trapp hands down. They still needed two goals and with literally no time left on the clock, a moment of controversy arrived as Suarez was adjudged to be fouled in the box by Marquinhos. That was one of those decisions that tend to happen at the Nou Camp every season, so I wasn’t surprised. However, it still required some nerve to dispatch the spot kick and Neymar was the man.

5-1 was still good enough for PSG. I would have expected Unai Emery to add a defender or two to the mix to hold the fort but when Angel di Maria bore down on goal and was fouled by Javier Mascherano, I expected the referee to at least show some measure of consistency by awarding the away side a penalty but he waved off the protests.

At the last kick of the game, Sergi Roberto scored the goal that sent the Nou Camp to raptures. As expected, the folks at the commentary box went bonkers as they would never have anticipated that such a thing would happen in the beautiful. You’d have to feel really sad for PSG – winning a team like Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg and not still qualifying is heart breaking to say the least. They would now shift their focus to the Ligue 1, as it has become a two-horse race with rivals, AS Monaco.

Kudos to Barcelona for an amazing show of class, effort and of course, clinical ability in front of goal.

That was some comeback.


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Committed Performance, Disappointing Result


Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

It’s never an easy feat playing against the best team in the world but when you play like Arsenal did, only to let it all go to waste, you can only but feel sad for the Wenger boys that showed yet again that they are not up to it when it all matters. Barcelona went into the game with a full-strength squad and the Gunners knew that only a disciplined performance as well as being clinical in goal was going to suffice.

What we got was a committed defensive performances no doubt but Arsenal’s finishing was downright pathetic as they were found wanting when it really mattered. When I think of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s miss in the six-yard box with the goalkeeper rooted on the ground, it capitulates what has been Arsenal’s core problem this season – the team’s inability to finish clear cut chances.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s effort easily saved.

Olivier Giroud had another header that was goal-bound but it pulled out a good save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen and that was pretty much it from an attacking perspective from the home team. Alexis Sanchez was all over the place and wasting possession with his needless dribbles, Aaron Ramsey was back to his frustrating best and even an experienced Per Mertesacker was culpable for the goals we conceded.

The first goal was a classic counter attacking goal from Barcelona but the lingering question would be – were was the defending? Francis Coquelin was far up the pitch, Per Mertesacker attempted to Mertecept the ball but he missed it and I was deeply saddened to see Nacho Monreal caught in two worlds on whether to mark Messi or Neymar. Even after Messi got the ball, Cech uncharacteristically slipped, allowing the world’s greatest player to pick his spot and blast it to an unguarded net. Typical Arsenal.

As for the second goal, I don’t know what’s more puzzling – Wenger’s decision to bring on Mathieu Flamini or the Frenchman’s poor reflexes that saw him scythe down Messi in the box. The Argentine genius sent Cech the wrong way and that was it. For the sixth season in a row, the Gunners are set for another exit in the knockout stage unless they pull off a miracle at Camp Nou.


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