Look closely, Arsenal’s forward line are not always where you think they’ll be…

At the LA Ram’s SoFi stadium, an arena with enough technology to be sent into space, the starting XIs are handily written out in formation order. In the eighth minute, though, it became clear its use as a reference point for Arsenal was redundant.

Gabriel Jesus may have started as the striker but he was hugging the left touchline. Leandro Trossard may have been playing on the left wing but he was in central midfield. Kai Havertz may have started in the left No 8 role but he was now acting as the focal point of the attack.

Rotations are now ingrained in the DNA of this team but this was a welcome variation when Jesus went wandering. Often he goes in search of the ball but, while he often injects pace into the attacks and finds the gap, there can be a lack of bodies filling his space and attacking the box once he faces goal.

This was not the case in Arsenal’s 5-3 win over Barcelona in Los Angeles. The Gunners were the superior football side in their structure and possession, getting down the sides of Barcelona time and time again.

It was the variety in who got to the touchline, and who was on the receiving end of the cutback, that was the biggest reminder that a title win for Arsenal will be based on sharing the goalscoring load.

At times it was Bukayo Saka driving down the line on his right foot, adding variety to his dribbling. Twice it was Saka slipping Martin Odegaard in behind the full-back with a darting run.

On one occasion it was Jurrien Timber with a powerful run who played Jesus through, until he was scythed down by Ronald Aurujo. It was Kai Havertz’s turn after that when Timber lobbed a ball down the left wing and he found Jesus with a perfect through ball. His cutback missed Saka at the back post but there was a queue forming in the box for the lay-off.

That concentration of bodies in the box proved pivotal in the opening goal as, after Saka showed his strength to withstand Marcus Alonso’s jostling and dig a cross out, Odegaard’s header was directed in by Havertz at the back post.

It was the German’s second goal of pre-season and the second from the back post area. Granit Xhaka added late runs to his game but Havertz looks set to be a more consistent presence in the penalty area this season, running from deep.

Usually Gabriel Martinelli is the player to take up central positions coming in off the left but he rarely started his movements there and tended to do it more when Trossard took up the false nine role in his absence last season.

If Arsenal can have Havertz, Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard and Trossard all acting as a carousel around Jesus then they should have at least five regular goalscorers on the pitch at any point.

Jesus did not score against Barcelona but his overall game was effective. He sucked defenders into him, rode tackles, dug burrows through the middle of the Barcelona spine and performed a role so undefined by starting position that Marauder’s Map could’t locate him.

When Trossard scores two, Havertz gets one and Saka adds another — even though he should have got a hat-trick after a penalty and second-half one-on-one were passed up — Jesus playing that well and not scoring will not cause Arteta a moment’s worry.

Jesus said on Tuesday that he does not concern him with whether he scores regularly enough, as long as the team wins trophies.

Yet the freakish numbers posted by Erling Halaand at Manchester City, who got 36 goals in 35 Premier League games last season, puts pressure on any rival goalscorer to deliver big numbers.

Does Arteta believe his faith in a collective effort can be enough to outgun City this season?

“I don’t know. We need to score as many goals as possible and if we have someone who scores 25, 30, 40 goals, great,” he said.

“Gabi today didn’t score but it’s the best Gabi I have seen for months. Transmitting that energy, that belief. He was creating a lot of chaos, a lot of good moments and making everyone better.

“I’m really pleased with that and the contribution of Kai. He has that quality and that’s why he’s playing that position with Leo (Trossard).

“We have a lot of options up front and they are going to have to compete between them to give me a hard time.”

Trossard’s ability to shoot from distance with either foot proved useful again as his left-footed strike in the second-half found the far corner.

After signing from Brighton in January the Belgian scored once and assisted ten times in 20 appearances — only ten of which were starts — but there is the potential there for him to ramp up his numbers with a full pre-season under his belt.

“It was great to see him scoring. He’s been working so hard and came in a really good condition for pre-season,” Arteta said.

“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.”

Arteta has added the depth he wanted this summer by signing three key players early in the window but there are several on the fringe of the squad whose futures remain in doubt.

USMNT striker Flo Balogun, who missed the game through a foot injury, is one and Arteta was lukewarm on the likelihood of the striker being in his plans.

“We will see. First of all he needs to be fit and play minutes,” he said, before later hinting there could be movement out the way in the final month of the window.

“Well we have 30 players here, which is unsustainable,” he added.

“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.”

If Arteta has now got the best version of his first-choice striker back in Jesus, the one which led the title charge in the first-half of last season so valiantly, then Arsenal will believe they have an attacking combination powerful enough to last the pace in this title race.

(Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

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