Lack of friendlies a worry as Gervinho shows his flair

Arsenal v Kitchee

It may have been a quick turnaround between the Man City fixture and playing Kitchee, but Arsenal have been spoilt for choice when it comes to the world’s prettiest stadiums.

After the 2-0 loss to City (which I never got to see so don’t have much to offer, there) in the pristine surrounds of Beijing’s Birds Nest, we travelled to Hong Kong to play in the National Stadium. It is easily one of the most pleasant-looking grounds I’ve seen on television. Take a look at that thing. It’s pristine.

In such fine surrounds, Arsenal completed its tour of Asia with a 2-2 draw against Kitchee, with polarising winger Gervinho the undoubted highlight.

I can only speak for the second half as my sleeping patterns have been totally distorted by the London Olympics (which I have to report on for work), but I came in at half-time with Arsenal 2-1 down.  From what I heard, there was the usual defensive errors which led to both Kitchee goals, before Theo Walcott briefly levelled affairs after some nice work from Abou Diaby to put the forward clear.

What I saw for the most part was a very jaded team, clearly tired from all its jet-setting. Furthermore, when you have five or six substitutions all in one go, the team takes further time to settle on the pitch. What we had was a very young Arsenal outfit, trying to fumble its way into second gear.

Gervinho, for his part, was immense. Someone’s clearly told him that the good stuff he produced in his first season came when he ran at the defence. At times he can be very difficult to read, and even when you think you know where he’s going to go (usually for the by-line), the fact that he’ll get there seems overwhelmingly inevitable.

That ability to get to the line and cut open the defence came to the fore superbly when he forced the defence to part like the Red Sea and set up Thomas Eisfeld for his second goal of the tour.

Arsenal v Kitchee

Eisfeld, for his part, looks cool as ice in front of goal and very promising. Not the ‘spectacular’ type of promising though I’d be happy to be proved wrong, there. Instead, he looks fairly solid already for such a young age.

Carl Jenkinson again showed how much his attacking play has developed as well as how much work still needs to be done on the defensive side of things, while Francis Coquelin was a beacon of composure and looks set to feature more prominently this season.

I also like what I’ve seen of young Ignasi Miquel in defence, though I missed his ‘big mistake’ in the first half, so can’t comment.

After our loss to Man City where by all accounts we pretty much took the game to them, no-one really cares how many losses or draws we picked up this tour. Apart from Spurs fans, but they’re probably more worried now about Charlie Adam doing a number on Gareth Bale. That was proper ouch.

But the real worry for Arsenal is the lack of friendlies we’ve organised in preseason. Even if the Nigeria match went ahead, a sum total of five fixtures never seemed enough to me.  The players who will need the most bedding in have yet to feature and at this rate, face only one match before the first league meeting against Sunderland.

Arsene Wenger admits as much in a post-Kitchee interview:

“The players who were out here will have had enough games but some players will have only one game.

“I decided to have one game behind closed doors to try and get a good opponent but at the moment it will be behind closed doors against ourselves.

“‘I have organised a training camp in Germany ahead of the Cologne game. It is a little bit unusual for us.

‘Podolski and Giroud may take longer than expected. I cannot play them in pre-season, so I will ease them in the Premier League.”

My hope would be some added fixtures through Wenger’s Austria contacts, but at such short notice we may be royally screwed in this department.

For this reason alone I cannot see Chamakh moving on in this transfer window. He’s been the most frequently used striker in the Asia tour and if Wenger is truly planning on bedding in Giroud and Podolski over the course of the season, we will need the Moroccan to hold the line until then.

In the words of Forest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. My brain is right frazzled from the 3:00am starts thanks to the goddamn Olympics. Working myself towards an early grave and all that. I truly hope you are all faring a lot better.

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5 thoughts on “Lack of friendlies a worry as Gervinho shows his flair

  1. Phyllis says:

    is Aw trying to play with our minds? why should you buy players and claim they are not ready when you are not giving the chances to showcase their talents? pls spare us frm ths disappointments

    • Jammathon says:

      I hardly think it’s anything like deliberately toying with the fans. Wenger didn’t buy the forwards with the intent of not playing them (apart from Park. Who knows what the story is, there). The staff know the players on the ground far better than we ever will. It’s hardly ideal, but there are reasons they were rested and chosen not to take part in the Asia tour. Getting more friendlies organised, difficult as it will be, is now of the utmost importance.

    • dboy says:

      Players need time to settle in at the club and also get their families settled. Also these players didn’t really have a good break with the Euro’s and transfers going on. All we need to do is be patient till everyone’s settled and fit ofcourse

  2. weedonald says:

    It is always a balancing act between fitness and injury risk so patience and intelligence is needed when planning and playing these tours and exhibition games. My guess is that he’s warming up his thoroughbreds and trying to get them so eager to play that they’ll break out of the starting gate and trample the opposition from the start.
    He is an exceptional psychologist among other things and he knows how to motivate and prepare his players like few other managers. His real issue is trying to integrate the new faces and signings into the squad without ruining the harmony and chemistry already developed.

    • Jammathon says:

      Awesome to have you back, weedonald. My first impression of ‘they’ll break out of the starting gate’ brought out visions of Mertesacker doing exactly that. As for the issue of chemistry, I think we could all see from our defensive lapses and jitters in front of goal from the preseason game that this in itself still needs working, so throwing in the new players won’t set anything back by too much.

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