Arsenal head to Asia retreat with several first-team hopefuls

Jamie Sanderson July 20, 2012 News 56 Comments

It’s been another difficult summer for Arsenal. The early arrivals of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud were initially inspired, but now underwhelm, as captain Robin van Persie prepares to walk away.

Arsène Wenger has felt the strain more than most, and after two weeks of intense criticism and question asking, he will no doubt be glad to retreat to Asia tomorrow afternoon, as the club begin their tour of the Far East.

A chance to get away, and focus on the business of moulding his much critiqued new boys into an ever-evolving new-look squad.

Wenger took training on Friday morning already in the knowledge that van Persie would not be travelling. He will stay behind in a bid to work on fitness, and more crucially, a move away.

It’s a decision that will make the headlines, but Wenger is already planning for the future. Van Persie drops out, and is replaced in the travelling party by 19-year-old Benik Afobe. He is one of a handful of fringe first-team hopefuls who will board the plane tomorrow, desperate to force his way into the squad for next season.

Afobe has had a tough 12 months. This time last year, he was on the cusp of the first-team, but suffered a serious knee problem that needed a substantial operation. He returned, but found little game time on loan at Reading, before disappointment with England at the Under-19 Euro’s over the summer.

It’s not quite make or break, but it will feel like it.

Afobe will be joined in the squad by close friends Chuks Aneke, Ignasi Miquel and Nico Yennaris, all of whom already have their eyes on loan moves, but will want to stick around to feature in the Capital One Cup next term.

Wenger is also planning on taking the much maligned Craig Eastmond – a player who has impressed in pre-season training, and did well on loan at League 2 outfit Wycombe in the closing stages of the last campaign. It is very much his last opportunity to leave an impression.

Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, we will also get a look at German play-maker Thomas Eisfield. He arrived in January in a rushed deadline day deal, and although has had injury problems, is highly rated.

It’s a tour aimed at building the commercial networks at Arsenal, but make no mistake, the trio of fixtures are auditions for the names mentioned above, and they know it.

The hard work only begins here.


  • Surely the board have to take the brunt of blame for this. Why can’t we offer close to Man City or Man U or Chelski’s contracts? Why not accept some foreign investment. Outside of football, the rest of the world embraced globalisation in the financial world decades ago…..

    • Read the UEFA FFP rules, use your brains and think! Arsenal is a wealthy club, but City and Chelsea don’t care about massive losses and United has fantastic commercial deals.

      Arsenal is a proper football club, so don’t you dare to mention idiotic behaviour of billionaire country clubs.

      Have you read and watched the news about financial meltdown in the industrialized world or are you just another tabloid reader?

    • overmars what do you think globalisation is, taking on hundreds of millions worth of debt? Accepting investment based solely on money? Trying to do things the RIGHT way or doing things the wrong way, which was is more ambitious?

  • had Eisfeld in the Boreham Wood squad.

  • AfricanGooner

    how come Silva and the Bolivian boy are not playin tomorrow or even at pre-season training?

  • Thomas From Hertfordshire

    Thomas Eisfeld is in the Arsenal XI squad to face Boreham Wood, are you sure he’s on the Asian tour? It would be unlikely he would be named in both, especially with the other aforementioned players being left out of the Boreham Wood squad.

  • Did Lansbury get a ticket?

    Can’t wait to see what Afobe could do with good service.

  • I rate Afobe higly, he deserves his chance to be there. I hope he’ll impress Wenger, he could be a good additional player to the squad ahead of Chamakh or Bendtner.

    Eisfeld was included in the squad facing Boreham Wood tomorrow, but as Lansbury’s tweet has suggested, Henri may have got injured and Thomas will replace him.

    I don’t really know why Eastmond is still at Arsenal.

    Honestly, I hope that Arsenal will announce the travelling squad tomorrow, it would be interesting to know which first-team player will miss the tour apart from van Persie, I suppose neither Bendtner, nor Arshavin will travel.

    Regarding the transfers: Jamie, how much new faces are likely to sign Wenger? I hope that Santi Cazorla will join us. He’s a massive player.

    • Eastmond still looks like a good player to me. He seems to have some presence on the pitch now, and is a decent passer. His performances in the first team a year or 2 ago were quite impressive as well; he looked capable of reading the game could win the ball back in midfield. I can’t see him overtaking Coquelin, but maybe they just feel it’s too early to let him go, because who knows what could happen?

  • Is that confirmed, especially Eisfeld must have been a late addition as he is mentioned in the reserve squad to play Boreham Wood ???

    Last year the travelling squad was 23, do you know how many will travel this year ? And what about the other players in limbo, Walcott, Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner, Mannone, Fabianski, will they travel ?

  • I think it’s a question of when, rather than if, with Afobe. He seems to be the complete package, who just needs experience. It will be interesting to see how things work out if Niang is signed, but I don’t think Afobe will suffer in the long run.

  • I’m shaking my head with many comments here. Unproven teenage strikers are automatically put ahead of experienced brilliant international strikers like Chamakh, Park, Bendtner and Arshavin. Realism, please! Afobe, Niang, Eisfeld, Aneke etc might become top quality footballers, but it’s a long, long way to Tipperary! The time will tell!

    • I’m shaking my head too…at you decalaring Chamakh and Park “brilliant international strikers”.

      I bet that, if Chamakh and Park themselves were to confess with absolute honesty, they would never delude themselves and say their abilty i
      s ‘brilliant international’ class.

      I say this not just judging their sub-standard arsenal performances, but also as a frenchman, an avid follower of league une.

      as you say but do not heed: a little realism please.

      or are you just another tabloid reader?

    • AfricanGooner

      i agree with u, Arsenal fans expect to go straight into the 1st team and perform wonders. we must realize that no every youngster is goin to do wat Cesc did. look how we hve become impatient with Walcott already forgetting that he is only 22.we need to protect them, that goes for the OX and Wilshere also.

    • Jean-Luc, Chamakh and Park are very good international strikers and possibly even brilliant in right situations and with regular playing time. Both have loads of caps and goals. Not many clubs have better centre striker back-ups.

      Both have played only few desperate minutes every month, so calling them flops or talking about sub-standard performances is absolutely incorrect. Some people even mention putting some unproven teenagers ahead of these experienced internationals.

      Realism is rare nowadays. I suggest all the football fans to read The Swiss Ramble to understand the financial reality of Arsenal and other clubs. The excellent articles help to understand the football world.

      Over 99.99% of football stories in media are utter rubbish and the best way to avoid the worst stories is to avoid the tabloids. Every real football fan wonders daily who are these people who have recruited most of the football journalists. The quality is the same as among the politicians.

  • what’s up with chuks aneke? i remember him being revered as prolly the biggest talent at arsenal, but now he seems like he will have an extremely hard time to reach the first team.

    Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey, Song all ahead of him. Too bad.

  • Afobe, Aneke, Yennaris, and Eisfeld are possibles for the first team next season. One of them might sneak in this year, but not likely.

    Miquel will go on loan, and Eastmon will likely be sold.

    On another note, I’m reading aobut Man City making a bid for a 13 year old genius from Birmingham…whatever happened to this 13/14 year old genius we were supposed to have? Was that just made up hype? Is there some wonderkid in our ranks…?

    • How long ago was that KC?
      There is Serge Gnabry who has just turned 17.

    • bigtimetopbanana

      Possibly Gedion Zelalem? The German/Ethiopian/American kid. I think he is 15 now.

  • By the way, Welcome Back!

    This site was one of the best in the biz and has been missed!

  • KC
    You must have read for the comment about the 13 years old genius.I read a conversation of JS and someone sometime ago they both talked about it. I think JS has an idea of who he could be but its still a long long way.

  • No coment from me yet . I am just enjoying this site again! This is the best site for romantic gunners that keeps believing in the future Of this great club.

  • I thought Afobe had a persistent groin problem that needed surgery last year. I never read anything about him having a knee injury.

    • Agreed – confirms it was a groin problem.
      Don’t believe everything you read in blogs :)

    • also say Eisfeld went to Boreham Wood, not Asia. Don’t believe everything on the club website ;)

  • alexander abraham

    i don’t have mush to say as am new to this site….but i can see us moving in the right direction with this young ones…and i can tell you that we may start our jubilation by winning the Carling cup first with all this youthful boys trying to make a statement to the manager that they are are ready for the next big thing…

  • Interestingly enough, neither Podolski nor Giroud is in the squad.
    Ryo is of course.
    So is Kyle Bartley.
    And Abou Diaby – wonder how long he’ll last :) Really hope he can get over his injury problems. Look how often RvP was out and what happened when we finally got a full season out of him. Still think Diaby has the potential to be a big player for Arsenal – just hasn’t had an injury-free run now for several seasons and often looked a bit tentative on his numerous come-backs, as if expecting to break down again. I have a feeling it’s not just physical with him – he maybe has a mental barrier to overcome too.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Jamie Sanderson….this is a very unbalanced attempt to criticize the team,hidden within a spurious player review:

    1) ¨but now underwhelm¨…..why do you say something as stupid as this? RVP’s saga has nothing to do with the quality of Podolski and Giroud but you need to exaggerate to feel insightful, when in fact you look the fool!

    2) ¨his much critiqued new boys¨…..who are critiquing them other than AAA assholes like you who seek to sensationalize a very normal pre-season Club activity?

    3)¨before disappointment with England at the Under-19 Euro’s over the summer.¨… ARE a fooking moron aren’t you! Afobe was the only one who scored for England’s under-19 squad and looked very much the pro, unlike you and your mindless excrement on this blog!

    4)¨a rushed deadline day deal¨…..Eisfeld’s arrival had been negotiated over 4 months with hisformer Club, if you’d bothered to read the article on him…but maybe you only read the negatives our AAA cretins spew out to reinforce your pessimistic view of AFC!

    Altogether a very poor post and written by an immature adolescent Mr.Sanderson, even if you are an adult!

    • CaribbeanGunner

      u attacking one of the bloggers who have been following our youth system for ages and knows more about the club than most blogger out there. I see no need for dissecting the comments as such. Afobe played well, but he was disappointed to go out of the tournament so it was a disappointment. Not even getting into the other comments.

    • 1. You can’t deny people are less excited now about the arrival of Podolski and Giroud, as they were when we had Podolski, Giroud and van Persie.

      2. Many Arsenal fans are asking questions of whether Podolski and Giroud can score the goals van Persie did. They’re unknown at this level.

      3. Afobe scored a few goals, but England disappointed and lost a a game they should have won against Greece. He even tweeted: ‘how did we lose that? :(‘.

      4. Wenger admitted they wanted to wait until the summer, but pushed it through in January at the last minute.

      No need for personal insults based on unfounded allegations – they make you look immature and adolescent!

    • Come on Dom, you should know better than that from your Untold activity.

      Not everyone has the same opinion, and I don’t agree with all of Jamie’s views – however he has always been a great source of accurate news on a under-reported side of our teams future, so for me I am happy to read his output.

      Read the info, take what you will from it and make your own mind up, but save the insults for the playground please!

  • look at the arsenal first team squad list on

    lansbury and bartley are in

  • hi jamie…missed ur site man…great work from u all these years, so good to have ur site back…from all the things happening, quite clearly rvp will be sold(abroad i hope)…now if the players still on the books who clearly are not part of wengers plans anymore(arshavin, vela, bendtner, chamakh, squillaci, park) get sold as well…are there any indications(that u know about) that afc will buy another forward?…and what about the midfield?..some say a dm is a must, other say a CAM…i think wenger as well is thinking he needs a CAM…how do you see the ganso-link?…is it total crap, or could there be something about that rumour?..anyways, good to have ur site back…and yes, i know this is younggunsblog…but still, wanted to ask u these questions as u usually have good info…thank u for getting this blog up and running again…much appreciated…le-grove is another good blog, but there are so many fools at their comment-section…keep up the good work mr. JS…

  • Huddersfield fans liked Afobe, i remember reading somewhere that those with long memories compared him to a young Frank Worthington. And if that doesn’t mean anything to you, you should watch this – in fact watch it anyway, lovely goal!

  • are the rumours true about us being interested in signing malaga star santi cazorla

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