Luis Suarez’s 90th-minute volley condemned Arsenal to a 2-1 defeat in their final pre-season game as Barcelona come from behind to win the Joan Gamper Trophy at the Nou Camp.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang capped a fine first-half performance from Unai Emery’s side with an emphatic opener nine minutes before the interval, lashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner after spinning away from two defenders. But Arsenal’s defensive frailties undone all of their hard work, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ own goal gifting Barca an equaliser on 69 minutes before Suarez’s instinctive first-time volley sealed the win in the final minute for the La Liga champions. While there were plenty of positives to be drawn from Arsenal’s performance, notably those of the young players, the manner in which they suffered the second defeat of their pre-season campaign raises questions over the club’s need for defensive reinforcements this summer.
Arsenal did a good job in keeping the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele quiet early on and maintained a disciplined defensive shape which limited Barca to shots from distance while allowing the Gunners to grow into the game. The first clear opportunity fell to Arsenal on 27 minutes, Maitland-Niles picking Jordi Alba’s pocket in the penalty area and crossing for Aubameyang, who could not make contact with his head in the six-yard box. Aubameyang made amends nine minutes later, though, taking Mesut Ozil’s diagonal pass in his stride and spinning away from Samuel Umtiti and Alba before lashing a shot into the top corner of summer signing Neto’s goal.
Griezmann had the ball in the Arsenal net two minutes before half-time but his delicate chip was ruled out for offside as the Gunners made it to the break in front. Ernesto Valverde made no fewer than seven half-time changes and that marked a shift in the momentum in Barcelona’s favour. Carles Alena drew a fingertip save from Bernd Leno, while a stunning goal-line clearance from Joe Willock stopped Griezmann from bundling Alba’s cross home.
But instead of Barca breaking Arsenal down, the Gunners shot themselves in the foot as Maitland-Niles and Leno went for the same ball and the right-back’s back pass trickled into the back of the net. Emery introduced Bukayo Saka with 20 minutes remaining and the 17-year-old created two glorious chances for Arsenal to restore their lead, but Aubameyang failed to make contact with his cross before fellow substitute Gabriel Martinelli volleyed inches wide.
And then Arsenal’s defensive issues haunted them for the final time as Sergi Roberto’s simple ball up field dissected the defence and landed for Suarez, who swept the winner beyond Leno to seal Barca’s 42nd Joan Gamper Trophy triumph.