LONDON (AP) – The Premier League season draws closer and Arsenal seems no nearer to solving its long-standing defensive problems.
The Gunners put together some crisp, cutting attacking play in Saturday's preseason friendly against Boca Juniors and were coasting at 2-0 until each of their central defenders gifted the Argentine side a goal.
The match finished 2-2 in the sort of turnaround that characterized last season, when Arsenal started promisingly but ultimately went a sixth straight season without a trophy.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he expects to make signings soon, with proven Premier League defenders Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Christopher Samba reportedly piquing his interest.
The team needs something.
''You never want to concede goals but I don't want to give too much importance to that,'' Wenger said. ''I knew the second half would be more difficult than the first half. We got caught on counterattacking because at 2-0 up we wanted to play.
''We have some improvements to make in some areas, including in the way we win the ball back. And on set-pieces we were not entirely convincing today.''
Despite the presence of veteran playmaker Juan Carlos Riquelme in its side, Boca rarely threatened Arsenal in the second match of the preseason Emirates Cup until Sebastien Squillaci - a substitute for Laurent Koscielny - lost possession in the 68th minute deep in his own half.
Riquelme slipped a pass to Lucas Viatri and the forward finished easily. Three minutes later, Johan Djourou failed to cut out a ball through the middle and substitute Pablo Mouche had a similarly straightforward finish from inside the area.
The groans from the Arsenal fans - whose disappointments last season included a 4-0 lead over Newcastle turning into a 4-4 draw and two two-goal leads against local rival Tottenham yielding only a single point - were clearly audible.
''We tried to pressurize them and we tried to make them make a mistake,'' Boca coach Julio Cesar Falcioni said. ''They are very fast and they recover the ball very quickly. They find spaces and they profit from the width. But we were playing quite compact.''
As usual for Arsenal, things looked better up front.
Ivory Coast striker Gervinho played half a match on his home debut and set up Robin van Persie for the 29th-minute opener, while Aaron Ramsey made it 2-0 just seconds into the second half with a fierce shot.
Emmanuel Eboue made a brief appearance as a substitute, although Wenger said he and Nicklas Bendtner were both on the verge of leaving the club.