Arsène Wenger’s gamble on Thomas Eisfeld pays off

Jamie Sanderson July 30, 2012 Editorials 35 Comments

Arsène Wenger had to be convinced to sign Thomas Eisfeld in January. He’s glad he did now.

Arsenal had been expecting to sign out-of-contract Eisfeld this summer, but were forced to move in January, over fears that his club Borussia Dortmund were ready to offer bumper terms, to make him stay in Germany.

Wenger described bringing the 19-year-old to North London, six months early, as an opportunity to allow him time to settle. A handful of reserve team run outs and a good holiday later, and Eisfeld’s period of transition looks to have been most valuable.

A diminutive, intelligent and technical play-maker, he returns to London this week having made a notable impression during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia. Three late substitute appearances, two goals and a feeling that this boy really is one for the future. Not bad, considering he only made the trip following a late injury to Henri Lansbury.

Eisfeld is one of Wenger’s most intriguing signings. At 19, he had made little influence on a Dortmund first-team geared to promote from within, and while he might have been given chances by now, he looks to be a genuine talent who has slipped the net.

His inclusion on the trip to Asia has presented Wenger with a key opportunity to take a close look. Eisfeld is a quiet, shy character, who is yet to associate himself with any of the groups within the current setup. Yet his awareness and appreciation of a pass, means he is a valuable and trusted ally on the pitch.

Arsenal just need to find him a position. New first-team coach Neil Banfield operated Eisfeld in an advanced number 10 role on his reserve team debut, but believes he could be a useful false nine – a position where he scored his first goal for the club, in the tail end of last season.

In Asia, Wenger has played him on both flanks, and also as a free player in a three-man central midfield. Either way, Eisfeld has qualities that are adaptable. He makes clever runs into the box, finds space, and can score goals.

Wenger must now decide what next to do with Eisfeld, but the general consensus is that he will spearhead Arsenal’s assault on the NextGen Series, while the Capital One Cup offers further opportunities for him to thrive.

He isn’t the only player to show positive signs in Asia, though. Chuks Aneke, Benik Afobe and Ignasi Miquel all showed glimpses of their potential, but all three are likely to spend next season on loan, polishing their craft.

All in all, the Asia experience will go down as one where youngsters and individuals benefited, and with a handful of squad places up for grabs, there’s plenty for Wenger to muse over.


  • He is good enough for first team. Should let him wear number 13

  • i really see eisfield being our next cesc i mean someone we buy youngish and he really excites me…as does chuks aneke, miquel in patches also, however i dont feel afobe will live up to his hype i was not too impressed with him last pre season and this season has been worse i think his hitting of the post vs KitChee is the perfect way of what i feel his career will be… almost reaching a climax but not really getting there

    • completely agree with you on Afobe, love his attitude but doesnt quite have the quality to match it. Can see Miquel becoming a big player in the coming years, rate him more than bartley

    • Completely disagree on Afobe. Everything he does has a touch of class except that he’s rushed his chances this summer. He’s been miles better than Chamakh, despite his relative lack of experience.

    • JohnnyMaverik

      I think his long term Injury really set him back. He doesn’t look as good now as he did before, playing consistently well for the youth and reserve set-ups, and really impressing during his loan spell to Huddersfield.

      He’s only 19 though remember so he has time to regain his confidence, adjust to the changes his body has made (I swear he’s gone up about 3 inches in the past year, never easy for young players) and try and regain that form that made him such an exiting prospect to start with.

    • Afobe himself has admitted that he played a bit rusty, which is not a surprise after a season out. Class is permanent, his form will be flying again. But one year loan at a championship-side would be beneficial for him.

    • To that I say …….Fran Merida.

      Don’t get your hopes up.

  • but if the speculation is true about cazorla and sahib with eisfield and aneke i feel we will have a good season i still feel m villa will happen and if santos is moved up field maybe a cover lb i think were good in cb with bartley and miquel as well as verm, mertesacker, kos and djourou. jenkinson doesnt fill me with confidence yet but i feel he will come good eventually and perhaps a back up GK would love Lloris but you have to be realistic i don’t feel him and chez would settle for shared time – ive heard by a supposed ITK taylor could come back? ( tbh i thought he had retired) but exciting times ahead

  • i feel that people are hyping him because he scored two goals. What he showed in his play (bar the goals) was nice, but nothing spectacular. Aneke made a better impression imo.

    But like you said, aneke needs a good loan period…as does Afobe who showed that he isnt ready to perform on the big stage yet. His needs to learn to keep his head cool when he gets chances for the first team. 1-2 loans the upcoming years like United did with Welbeck should do the trick!

    • to be honest yes the goals will create hype as in 3 games we scored 4 goals and he scored 2 and he had less ime than chamakh and gervinho (who did brilliant) i dunno id like to see aneke in the capital one cup for us and maybe the last CL group game if he have that spare…as i said in my above post i dont see afobe being arsenal quality in the foreseeable future so in like 1-2 years.

  • I think that Aneke and Eisfeld are ready now. I’d like to see them in the first team, at least until Wilshere returns. If they go on loan, I’d prefer they go on loan in the Premier League rather than the Championship. If Eisfeld goes away, it shouldn’t be the Next Gen series. He needs to adapt to the physicality and speed of the league.

    Afobe could be quite a surprise if kept in the first team. Yes, he missed some chances, but many players miss chances in preseason, and Afobe may be a bit fatigued from the minutes he played at the U-19s. He may not have scored, but he is technically gifted, makes excellent runs, and makes good decisions. Afobe is at the point now where he needs to be polishing his skills against premier league talent whether at Arsenal, or elsewhere on loan.

  • loan out diaby and ramsey he is not dependable,keep couquelin we can use is versatility,m’villa too expensive would prefer sahin loan in hope of wilshere,kagawa back up for song and arteta and carzola in the middle,bring in sahko keep van persie and giroud for main striker,podolski and gervinho walcot and ox…beautiful squad

  • I was at the game yesterday in Hong Kong and was sat with 2 Man Utd fans who were both as amused at Miquel as I was. He was shocking to 100% honest. As for the other yougnsters Afobe missed 2 sitters, Aneke is a big unit but I don’t think he has the technical ability to be a success in the Premier League. Eisfeld though looked really good for his brief moment on the pitch took his goal well and passing was brilliant. Also Gervinho was the best player when he came on by a mile, actually looked like he wanted to play unlike the 1st half team who were all very lacklustre and would rather pass to someone else than take any responsibility themselves. Chamakh was so bad that I don’t think even Kitchee would want him. Credit to the hosts though as in the 1st half they looked really good and made some good chances. All in all was a good workout but not many stood out and looked like they were all ready to go home.

  • Akinmade babatunde

    Am very glad to had this, it is nice to put him in first team because is a future player, he played like rosicky.

  • I want to see Thomas and Aneke in our first team this season. The two gat confidence with and without the ball.

  • ………………..scez………………………………yanneris……..bartley………..miguel…………….gibs……………….couqquilin…….wilshere……………………aoc……………eisfeld(aneke)./…………ryo……………………….afobe/cambell……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  • .scez

  • We heard of sesc@jack@riyodnho@a.o.chamberlain@nw de time of the so caled Thomas@@ nt v5 or R7, it s thomas eisfied…sure nxt generation.

  • Watched the pre-season games and thought that Eisfeld and Aneke performed very well. Was particularly impressed with Eisfeld whose movement off the ball was very good. Found space and was always demanding for the ball in good positions. Two goals were rather easy finishes (the first one being harder than the second), but it’s no coincidence that he’s at the right place at the right time. Intelligent footballer. If he comes good, will he be the source of midfield goals we have lacked since Pires/Ljungberg?

  • Gerry Lennon

    Of the ‘fringe’ players on tour, you have to take account if they make it to the bench, who will they come on for, and are they capable of filling in in caee of injury?
    With that in mind, here are my thoughts:
    GK – Fabiansk, if he stays then we have our No 1 covered.
    Lb – Behind Gibbs there is Santos in that order,imo. Miquel did his chances no harm.
    CB’s – Behind the big 3, Bartley looks the type to improve, and Miquel makes 5. Djourou is sound if the team is playing, suffers when under pressure.
    RB – Whoever gets the nod here will be in while Sagna gets fit. Jenkinson, with his forward runs and sound crosses is the most likely starter. I hope Yennaris is in the mix too, as he has pace, tackles well, but as with all our attacking backs, they need cover when out of position.
    CM’s – Coquelin just edges Diaby on tour performances. Diaby at his best would be a starter, but as his fitness comes, he needs to get his sharpness back, which is where FC edges at the moment. Throw in Aneke for those mid-winter games against the likes of Stoke, and I think back up for the Arteta/Song duo is covered – not that I exclude a DM being signed either.
    AM’s – Clearly AOC is beig lined up for this role, with or without Santa coming to town. The above trio could also be included here, and Yennaris moving to the midfield group.
    Striker’s – Mmmn – Being realistic, without RVP, Giroud’s central position, apart from a signing, or moving Podolski, then Chamakh if he stays. But I go with those above and think Afobe could get his place here. On tour I thought he improved with every game, and sharpness will come over the next few weeks. A definite squad member, imo.
    Podolski, whether wide or central/left, I see Eisfeld as his No1 cover. No, not just because of his coolness in front of goal, but his general movement, quick passing, and general awareness of where he should be. That is what marks him out as an intelligent player for the (near?) future. Please, no comparisons to Cesc or anyone else.
    Wide men – Gervinho looks to have edged Walcott, although he will do better if the Christmas presents chappie arrives to bring his gifts – Walcott needs the right ball to make best use of his talent. RYO is one to occupy bench space if this position needs cover, but with the AOC also in the mix, it might mean fewer opportunities?

    All in all, a good crop of younsters, and we’ve yet to see Gnabry yet. Looking good!

  • ive been impressed with all the reserve player apart from Eastmond (note Bartley is a first team player now)
    Eisfeld-very impressed with him neat,tidy,composed like him alot scored 2 nice goals aswell
    Afobe-i was impressed with his movement and his all round general play just needs to improve his finishing but that will come in due time needs a loan
    Miquel-was ace against Malaysia and City was quite bad against KitChee but everyone has bad performance sometime anyway seems very comfortable on the ball and tbh i like him better than bartley but also needs a loan
    Aneke-looks like a young Yaya/Diaby that says enough id like him to stay for early rounds of league cup then go on loan
    Yennaris-didnt get that much of a chance but i liked him at RB against malaysia i want him to be in first team till Sagna returns from injury

  • This always happens. Eisfeld looked ok. The goals will cause people to hype him more than they should. Over the three games he played 43 minutes, mostly against average opposition, and had a few nice touches and passed the ball about nicely. From these 43 minutes we can say the gamble has paid off? Sure he may come good, and we may see flashes of potential from him throughout the season, but i’ll wait until he has played in meaningful games throughout the upcoming season before declaring the gamble to have paid off.

    He could just as easy go the way of a number of other promising young players who have performed to a decent standard on a pre-season tour and then ended up leaving after a few years in the Carling Cup squad.

  • Salah olatunji

    I do not see any reason why Arsene would not bring this guy to the first team and give him chance to play as he did to Jose Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fabregas when we had experience players in our midfield as we are to have in this coming season, it wil allow him to grow easily and blend well to the team. This’s just his time.

  • Eisfield is a class of a player. my first glance at his display, i saw a future star for arsenal. hope he continue in this direction. probably, a loan spell will grant him more experience and mind set for the EPL in the nearest future.

  • Love Aneke’s style of play. Big, composed and intelligent, could add so much to squad in the future. Eisfeld seems like a class act too. I think afobe will make it as an impact sub, or at lower-level club, but i’m not that covinced about miquel..

  • Eisfeld looks good and should be given a run this season as a backup attacking midfielder. Seems a no brainer to me but Wenger has a knack for sitting too long on talent sometimes. Arsenal needs to be a tad more aggressive about mixing in young faces into experienced lineups, instead of trotting out a bunch of kids all at once and seeing them inevitably struggle.

    IMO Aneke remains underrated, especially by the Arsenal fans here. He has zero holes technically, is well built already and just needs to learn how to adapt to play at high tempo occassionally. But lovely skills, gets the ball under control instantly, never dwells on it, quickly picking out perceptive passes seemingly almost without having to think. This is remarkable. Basically he’s shown that he’s got everything In Wilshere’s toolbox other than that that burst of dribbling. And to be fair Aneke has size and aerial development potential too, at 6’3″.

    If he was a 19 year old Spanish kid we had just poached from Barcelona the fans would be raving about his silky play. But Chukwuemeka Aneke is a tall, well-built kid with an African name and background, so he is getting stereotyped by fans as not being “technical enough” to be a playmaker.

    Not surprisingly for those who know the kid, Barcelona actually tried to pinch Aneke while was a scholar at Arsenal. But hey, what do THEY know about technical talent? Obviously it’s the Internet fans that can judge talent:-)

    • Your points on Aneke are spot on. Hes come from the Hale End Academy but there is a kind of civil war going on versus Coaches/scouts from Shenley who buy players from 16 years to remove the Hale End players,eg Ramsey v Wilshire/Lansbury, Ozygakup v Aneke,Toral/Ollson v Bunjaku.
      Anekes sponsors are powerless at Hale End because hes been ready for at least 18 months but no-one seems ready to press his claims. Hes now ready for inclusion into the 1st team and Wenger sits on his hands the player will seek to play elsewhere. The hype on Eisfield is bizarre, as had he played like Aneke on tour many fans on here would be calling him the next Messi. Sadly Wenger passed on Yaya Toure and it looks like he will pass on Aneke. Whereas Eisfield as gets waved into the 1st team. Subtle bias going on.

  • What do you mean ‘groups in the current set up’?

    Do you mean cliques? ARE THERE CLIQUES forming in the arsenal first team??? Elaborate please!

  • Yeah he definitly impressed me this pre season, and it’s good that we have one for the future, but he’s not going to have much influence on us this season. He’ll play in the league cup and maybey early fa cup and might get one or two starts in the league if he’s lucky. But i see him as an option for an impact sub if things are going well for him. I dont know what evryone else is talking about when it comes to the other youth players we have. DOnt get mr wrong, Ryo exites me, and we all know that ramsey has potential and skill. Wiltshire is already proven himself, as has oxlade chamberlin. Coquelin and frimpong interest me, and they might come good. Then we get to the other youth we have. I think miquel is utter shit. Im sorry i’ve never seen him have a good game. Jenkenson is really really bad and i cringe whenever we have to play him. I think yenaris should be nowhere near the bench let alone the first 11. Aneke strikes me as amazingly average, and i dont think i’ll see him turn into anything other than that, same thing with afaeobe. But who knows. I could be wrong with these players, they might develop into world class talent, but my point is that right now, they are not very good. Some of them even suck.

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