Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had an instant response after Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez branded the intensity of their thrilling friendly match as “not normal”

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Mikel Arteta conceded that Arsenal’s pre-season friendly with Barcelona became too competitive after Xavi Hernandez hit out at the Gunners’ intensity.

With the new Premier League campaign just over a fortnight away, Arsenal continued their preparations with an entertaining 5-3 victory over the Spanish champions. Goals from Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz, Fabio Vieira and a brace from Leandro Trossard were enough to seal victory against Barcelona at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

And while the enthralling match may have captured the imagination of fans and neutrals alike, neither Arteta or Xavi seemed totally satisfied with their evening’s work after the final whistle.

Xavi, in particular, was less than impressed with the intensity of Arsenal; so much so that the Spaniard even branded it as “not normal”.

“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 boss told reporters. “But I understand everybody wants to win.”

His sentiments were echoed by Arteta, who admitted that the game ended up becoming a “bit too much”. He said: “It got really competitive for a friendly match. After the first tackle and the first goal. Playing in front of 70,000 fans helps. At times I think it got a bit too much for a friendly.”

Arsenal fans were treated to another glimpse of summer signings Havertz and Jurrien Timber, but the Gunners’ £105million record-signing, Declan Rice, was not risked after taking a “strong kick” in training.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Mikel Arteta admitted that Arsenal’s 5-3 win over Barcelona became too intense (


Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC)

After spending in excess of £200m on his trio of new signings, Arteta made it clear after the match that Arsenal’s focus going forward will be trimming their 30-man squad; a figure Arteta admits is too high.

He added: “Well, we have 30 players here which is unsustainable. Obviously, the market is still open and things can happen. We are prepared. I’m really happy with the squad we have at the moment. We have improvements to make in terms of what we want to do in games and we still have to do that. Overall really pleased with the team.

A host of Arsenal players have already been linked with transfers this summer. Folarin Balogun is in demand after plundering 21 league goals in France for Reims last term, while Nicolas Pepe and Nuno Tavares have also been tipped to leave.

Talk of an exit for Kieran Tierney has been played down, though, by Arteta, who has insisted that the Scotland international remains part of his plans.

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