Football News

Mikel Arteta dubs Arsenal players ‘rebels’ after Xavi’s post-Barcelona complaint

By James Amey

Published: 17:50, 27 July 2023

Arsenal concluded their summer tour of the USA with a thrilling 5-3 victory over Barcelona.

The Gunners’ successful trip to the states ended with another win in front of a sell-out crowd at the SoFi Stadium in LA, as they twice came from behind in an eight goal thriller against the LaLiga champions.

Barcelona started the brighter of the two sides, taking the lead in the opening stages, as Robert Lewandowski put the Catalan giants ahead after just seven minutes, before Bukayo Saka equalised just five minutes later (before then missing a penalty). Raphinha restored his side’s lead after 34 minutes with a deflected free-kick, but Kai Havertz poked home just before the break to ensure it was all square at the break.

The second half saw a host of changes for both sides and another four goals. Belgian Leandro Trossard scored twice, as he looks to get off to a flying start in his first full season at the club, before Ferran Torres and Fabio Vieira exchanged goals late on to leave the score 5-3 in Arsenal’s favour.


The match was blighted however, after a series of forceful challenges, heated duels and an intense 90 minutes left Xavi upset.

“I said to Mikel at the end of the game that it means a Champions League game because the intensity that they put was not normal in a friendly” the Barcelona head coach shared during his press conference.

“But I understand everybody wants to win. It was the first game for us and after we passed a virus. “Our intensity didn’t surprise me, their’s did. It’s normal for it to be so intense and for there to be so many injuries and yellow cards. They were at a very high level of intensity and rhythm that we weren’t expecting.”

The match saw a total of 34 fouls committed (22-12) and four yellow cards (3-1), with the Gunners leading in both statistics, but Mikel Arteta played down his side’s approach and the intensity they showed during the game.

“At the end of the day, soccer belongs to the players. “We’re playing in front of 70,000 people and as soon as the game starts they’ll rebel against the coaches as soon as the game starts and they’ll do what they want. As soon as there’s the first foul of the game they’ll start getting intense and they’ll start playing.”

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The Gunners will now return to England for the Emirates Cup, where they go head-to-head against AS Monaco, in their final pre-season friendly before they face Man City for the Community Shield at Wembley on the 6th August.