Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal - 3 talking points | 2019 Joan Gamper Trophy
Arsenal concluded their preseason activities as they travelled to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona in the final of the Joan Gamper trophy.
The Joan Gamper trophy is an annual exhibition football match played in August of every year, named after Joan Gamper who was a former president and founding member of Barcelona.
The 2019 edition was the 54th staging of the tournament, with Barcelona running out 2-1 victors over Premier League side Arsenal.
The Gunners would return to competitive action when they travel to face Newcastle in the Premier League, while Barcelona would take on Napoli on Thursday before kicking off their LaLiga title defense with a trip to Athletic Bilbao.
In a game which was highly entertaining from start to finish, both clubs gave their all to win on the night, but the home team ultimately prevailed. In this piece, we shall be highlighting three talking points from the match.
#3 Arsenal fans have reason to be optimistic ahead of next season
The last decade has been an emotional roller coaster for fans of Arsenal, as they had to watch on in horror as their once unbeatable team faltered and got overtaken by clubs previously beneath them.
The departure of Arsene Wenger at the end of the 2018 season ushered in a new era, but despite starting promisingly, ghosts of yesteryears came back to haunt The Gunners and they missed out on Champions League qualification for the third season in a row having been in prime position with just few weeks left.
Unai Emery's second season in charge offers a chance to rectify last season's disappointment, and the capture of Nicolas Pepe for a club record fee helped improve team morale.
The 24-year-old was exceptional for Lille in Ligue 1 last season, and it is expected that he would bring his explosiveness with him to The Emirates.
Though the Ivorian international did not make his bow against Barcelona and Lacazette is still out injured, there was still more than enough on display at the Nou Camp to give fans optimism.
Aubameyang showed that he is rearing to go after winning the Golden Boot last season, opening the deadlock with an exquisite finish; receiving the ball with his back to goal, turning Alba inside out before calmly slotting past Neto.
However, it was Mesut Ozil's pin-point pass that split the Barcelona defense and paved the way for his Gabonese teammate to put Arsenal ahead and fans would have been delighted with his performance not just against Barcelona but overall in preseason.
Things have not really gone to plan for Ozil in the last few seasons particularly last term where he found himself out of Emery's lineup on occasion and there were indications that the club was willing to let him leave.
However, the former German international has explicitly stated that he is going nowhere and returned to preseason earlier than others in a bid to fight for his spot.
He has been nothing short of phenomenal in all of Arsenal's preseason games till date, showing a hunger which had been lacking in previous years and willing to track back and help his team's cause.
On the strength of his performance during preseason, Ozil staked a serious claim to being a regular next season, and if he performs at the level expected of him, with the quality of attackers in front of him, there could be no stopping Arsenal next season.