Arsenal vs Barcelona preview
With the European football season set to start in three weeks, clubs have started their annual tradition of playing club friendlies as they look to get players up to speed and try new young players who could play an integral part in the upcoming season. And it is under such circumstances that Arsenal will face Barcelona at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
While Barcelona won La Liga last year, ending a difficult season with some positivity, Arsenal, on the other hand, threw away their lead at the top of the table and were pipped by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to the Premier League title.
However, Mikel Arteta had one of the youngest squads in the league and with several key additions, the team appears to be one of the favourites to win the Premier League title, their first in 20 years. On the other hand, Barcelona will be looking to regain their status as a top club in the Champions League.
The Catalans have also had to take care of their financial condition, considering they had to activate several economic levers to buy players. On top of that, the club is also renovating their home stadium Camp Nou which is expected to cost €1.5 billion.
However, that has not affected the club’s allure to top players, which has been immensely helpful to the club in such dire times. While this is only a friendly with no real points for trophies up for grabs, both sides will settle for nothing less than a victory to get a positive start to their season.
The Gunners have massively increased their squad depth’s quality with the addition of players such as Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz. Meanwhile, Barcelona have also bolstered their ranks by adding Oriol Romeu, Ilkay Gundogan, and Inigo Martinez to the team. They are also reported to be interested in the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga.
Arsenal vs Barcelona lineups
Arsenal started Rice, Havertz, and Timber in their 2-0 loss to Manchester United. After the game, Arteta said that though the team had lost, he was encouraged by the performance of his new signings and was confident that the team will become like a well-oiled machine by the time the new season starts.
The games against Barcelona also offer Arsenal the final chance to get their players in tune. The team’s next two games will come against AS Monaco in the Emirates Cup, followed by a clash against Manchester City in the final of the Community Shield.
The club are currently without the services of Reiss Nelson and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who are out with a toe injury and calf injury, respectively. Apart from that, Arteta has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Predicted Arsenal lineup: Ramsdale; Timber, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Jesus, Trossard
On the other hand, Barcelona’s pre-season have been hit by an outbreak of gastroenteritis which has affected as many as 15 players. Due to this, Barcelona have played only one game against Vissel Kobe before their game against Juventus was called off due to the outbreak.
It is still unclear whether all of the team members will be able to recover from the epidemic to start against Arsenal. This makes it challenging to select a starting 11. However, the availability of Ilkay Gundogan and Inigo Martine will be a massive boost to the squad, with the duo expected to make their debut at the SoFi Stadium.
Even if everyone manages to recover, then Xavi will exercise caution as he gives his players more time to recover before the start of the new season.
Barcelona lineup: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Christensen, Martinez, Alonso; Gundogan, Kessie, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Fati
Arsenal vs Barcelona predictions
With Barcelona expected to be far from full strength, Mikel Arteta’s men will fancy their chances to come away with a victory. Meanwhile, Barcelona will be hoping to put a decent starting 11 that can give Arsenal a run for their money.
However, even with the two teams fielding their best lineups, it is hard to predict in a friendly game.
FootTheBall predicts a 2-2 draw.