So that’s that. Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States has come to an end and it finished with a thumping 5-3 win against Barcelona in Los Angeles.
After the defeat and pretty mediocre performance against Manchester United, this was an important win for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Yes, it’s only pre-season, but you still felt that it was crucial from a momentum point of view that they responded well against a Barcelona side who were a bit behind them in terms of preparation due to a sickness bug that had swept through their squad.
Arteta would not have wanted his side to return to London having suffered back to back defeats, so he would have been delighted to see his team perform the way they did.
There were some defensive errors. Martin Odegaard got robbed of possession in the build up to Barca’s first goal and Arsenal’s captain then turned his back on a Raphinha free-kick that deflected in before half-time.
And a slip from Rob Holding moments after he had been introduced as a late second half substitute allowed Ferran Torres to score a third for the Catalans.
Clearly, those are individual mistakes that have to be minimised ahead of the new season. But on the whole this was a really promising performance from Arsenal.
They looked a bit lethargic against United, but they were at their vibrant best at times against the La Liga champions.
Bukayo Saka scored in the first half, as did Kai Havertz. Saka also missed a penalty as the teams went into the break locked at 2-2.
Just as he did against West Ham last season, Saka sent his spot kick wide. Although this time he put his effort past the opposite post.
Whether that miss will lead to a change in Arsenal’s penalty taker remains to be seen. But after being so precise from the spot previously, it is a bit worrying that Saka has failed to even hit the target with his last two.
The second half was all about Leandro Trossard. He scored twice, once with his left foot and once with his right. They were two fabulous finishes from a player who has enjoyed an excellent pre-season so far.
The Belgian is really sending out a message to Arteta with the start of the Premier League just a few weeks away.
He’s such a good player and Arsenal just seem to be a better team when he is on the pitch.
Whether he will start against Nottingham Forest next month remains to be seen, but he’s doing all he can to force his way into the team.
“He’s been working so hard and came in a really good condition for pre-season,” Arteta said after the game.
“He gives us something very different to the other wingers we have and he has got incredible versatility and unpredictability to play in different positions too.
“It will be good for his confidence, for sure.”
The performances of the likes of Trossard, Emile Smith and Kieran Tierney were arguably the most promising aspect of this win.
All are players who you would say are far from guaranteed starters in the Premier League, but they are showing they are hungry for that fight.
Trossard offers so much with his quality and versatility and is becoming impossible to ignore. Smith Rowe meanwhile looks determined to force his way back into the picture.
He came on for the second half and was very impressive, just as he was during his cameo against United earlier in the week.
Tierney, who again had to make do with a second half substitute appearance, made another good impact, as he has done every time he has come on during pre-season.
Even Fabio Vieira got in on the act, curling in a brilliant late goal to complete the scoring.
The performances of those players will be really encouraging for Arteta. They may well present him with a few headaches, but those are the headaches you want as a manager.
Arsenal return to England with the squad looking strong.
Record signing Declan Rice didn’t play against Barcelona due to a slight injury concern, but he was replaced by Thomas Partey who came in an proceed a typically excellent performance at the base of the midfield
Again, that shows the options Arteta now has at his disposal.
This was a morale-boosting end to a good tour for Arsenal. The performance against United was disappointing, but they put that behind them in impressive fashion in LA.
Now it’s back to London with all eyes on the Emirates Cup and Monaco next week.
Arteta has certainly been given plenty to think about between now and then.