The first-team’s pre-season tour of Asia certainly concluded in a positive fashion as far as the club’s youngsters are concerned, with striker Chuba Akpom finding the net four times in as many games, Gedion Zelalem enhancing his already burgeoning reputation and the likes of Kristoffer Olsson and Chuks Aneke gaining valuable experience of what life is like with the first-team squad.
For some of those involved, however, it was a case of going back to reality last night as an Arsenal XI continued their pre-season preparations with what was, at times, an enthralling 4-4 draw away to League One side Leyton Orient. Given that they were facing a senior side, a draw can be viewed as a commendable result for Steve Gatting’s team, although some of the defending from the young Gunners left a lot to be desired, particularly during the first-half when they were punished by the same corner routine twice in quick succession.
Arsenal could call upon Wellington Silva, however, to restore parity, with the Brazilian winger finding the net twice to complement an impressive all-round performance. The 20 year old has traipsed around clubs in the Spanish second division in recent years having been unable to earn a work permit that would enable him to play in England, but it would certainly be a shame to see his, still undoubtedly raw talent go to waste without ever being provided with an opportunity to play in the first-team at Arsenal.
At present that appears an unlikely proposition, with Ryo Miyaichi ahead of him and already installed as part of the first-team squad, but, last night, Wellington looked as if he had no worries at all as he frequently tricked his way past experienced defenders whilst linking up well with his team-mates.
Orient scored again to make it 3-2, and increased their advantage further still in the second-half, but Arsenal were rewarded for their perseverance and eventually managed to salvage a draw. First Akpom, continuing his great goalscoring run which started around this time last year and has barely ceased since, struck a well placed effort into the back of the net to reduce the deficit to one goal, then centre-back Daniel Boateng, perhaps the most unlikely candidate for a dramatic late equaliser, belied convention to pounce upon a defensive error and finish well late on.
There was no run-out on this occasion for Dan Crowley, the talented midfielder signed from Aston Villa who does not turn 16 until August, but he is instead expected to feature during the U21s final friendly away to Luton Town on Saturday before the commencement of the new U21 Premier League season against Manchester United at Boreham Wood in two weeks’ time.