Arsenal’s three-stop tour of Asia came to a conclusion with a 2-2 draw against Kitchee FC in Hong Kong today, with young German Thomas Eisfeld, on as a substitute, once again on the scoresheet. Eisfeld’s second-half strike added to Theo Walcott’s effort in the opening period ensured that the game ended level and, although the Gunners enjoyed a dominant last 20 minutes or so, their defensive deficiencies were plain for all to see, particularly early on in the game.
Ignasi Miquel, who was handed a start at centre-back alongside captain Johan Djourou following his impressive display against Manchester City on Friday, was culpable of giving the ball away in a move which led directly to the Kitchee goal, before Walcott levelled following good work from Abou Diaby. Kitchee were in front by half-time, however, after Wojciech Szczesny, making his first appearance of pre-season, was beaten following a flurry of chances for the hosts.
Craig Eastmond also started at right-back, but once again it must be said that he is far better suited to operating as a holding midfielder. Arsene Wenger made several changes at the break, with the introduction of Gervinho providing Arsenal’s attack with some much needed impetus. The Ivorian winger was involved in the move that teed up Benik Afobe, another half-time substitute, for a scoring chance, but Afobe’s shot lacked conviction as he struck the post before sending the rebound over the crossbar.
Chuks Aneke again demonstrated his passing range, even if his performance wasn’t quite as impressive as in the two previous games of this tour, whilst Afobe also saw a header go over. Kyle Bartley and Nico Yennaris were then introduced as a new centre-back pairing but neither was really tested as Arsenal began to take control of proceedings, eventually culminating in the equaliser when Eisfeld converted Gervinho’s pull-back.
Eisfeld has certainly caught the eye with his two goals in three games on this tour, a feat made even more commendable by the fact that he didn’t even play 45 minutes in any of the games. He also played some neat passes, but Arsenal couldn’t quite muster a winning goal.
Again, it was a far from satisfactory overall performance from Arsenal, given that the new Premier League campaign is now under three weeks away, but it is hoped that the introductions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, as well as the return of Laurent Koscielny to the side, will improve matters ahead of the new season.
As far as the young players are concerned, the group is likely to be whittled down by the time Arsenal play their next, and final, official friendly against Cologne in 13 days time. Eisfeld and Aneke have surely done enough to remain with the group for an extended period, whilst one of Yennaris and Eastmond could be retained for right-back cover.