In what was a thrilling encounter, an Arsenal XI side fought from behind to secure a draw in the last minute against League One outfit Leyton Orient.
There are both negatives and positives to be taken from this game. Let's start with the latter. Firstly, 16 year old right back Taf Moore had an excellent game. Playing against men twice his size, the athletic full back showed composure when in possession and proved hard to beat in defensive situations, using his pace and tenacity to great effect. In the first half particularly, Moore was very impressive and in my opinion the best player in red and white.
Moreover, Wellington Silva put in his best performance wearing an Arsenal shirt, scoring two goals and at times terrorising the Orient defence with his pace and trickery. What he lacked against Sutton United two weeks ago was an end product, so tonight's performance shows a significant improvement in that regard. Unfortunately the Brazilian is yet to receive a work permit and thus is confined to friendly matches only. Another loan move beckons.
This brings me to Chuks Aneke, whose return to Crewe on loan seems to be edging closer. Although often lethargic in possession, in a way reminiscent to Abou Diaby, he was at the heart of most attacking moves and demonstrated his skill and vision on a number of occasions. Having said that, as disappointing as it is to say, I think he may have found his level playing against League One sides.
Chuba Akpom continued the goalscoring form he showed with the first team in Asia with a well taken goal to grab Arsenal's third of the evening. A clever diagonal run in behind the Orient defence was found expertly by Aneke, whose through ball fell perfectly for Akpom to tuck away underneath the goalkeeper. The striker will be disappointed not to have scored earlier, however, failing to convert two or three excellent chances. He was replaced after 74 minutes by Lipman, after picking up a slight twist in his leg.
Finally, goalkeeper Dejan Iliev made several excellent stops and was responsible for preventing an embarrassing scoreline, with the defensive unit ahead of him failing to offer sufficient protection. He also showed a good reading of the game, acting as a 'sweeper keeper' on a number of times.
Now onto the negatives. While it must be noted Leyton Orient are a much stronger opponent than Sutton and Borehamwood, Arsenal's defence, with Leander Siemann at left back and a centre half pairing of Isaac Hayden and Daniel Boateng, was less than convincing. Orient's almost identical opening two goals both came from unmarked headers from a corner, while a plethora of unforced errors were made throughout the game. It does seem somewhat pointless playing the likes of Boateng, a player whose Arsenal career is clearly at an end, when youngsters such as Stefan O'Connor and Elliot Wright are chomping at the bit to experience some more game time at this level.
Nico Yennaris, Kris Olsson and Thomas Eisfeld were largely average in midfield, although the latter was involved in some good attacking moves and was unlucky to hit the post from a free kick in the second half. It was a shame Danny Crowley wasn't called upon from the bench, although he may well feature in the U18 friendly against Leicester tomorrow. Next up for Arsenal XI is Luton on Saturday, where Steve Gatting will be hoping for a more solid team performance.
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