During pre-season two youngsters who have suddenly appeared on the radar of Arsenal’s first team are 19 year old Thomas Eisfield and 17 year old Serge Gnarby. These two have come from the unknown of the Arsenal reserves playing at Barnet’s Underhill stadium last year to travelling on Arsenal’s first team pre-season tour this season.
Thomas Eisfield has had a fortunate ascent to being included in first team pre-season plans. Initially expected to be signed on a free this summer, Wenger’s hand was forced to buy him for £400,000 6 months early after it was rumoured Borussia Dortmund were willing to offer Eisfield a bumper contract. Wenger had to be persuaded to go in early for him but said that the 6 months would allow Eisfield to settle.
Eisfield was included as a last minute fill in on the pre-season tour as Henri Lansbury picked up a late injury, which will surely affect Lansbury’s chances of breaking into the first team squad. Eisfield had an impressive trip scoring two goals from 3 substitutes’ appearances and also gathering accolades from his attitude and performance during training. Wenger has already accredited him with having “technique, good movement and skill” which as we know are 3 key things Wenger looks for.
Though it may be too soon for Eisfield to be jettisoned into the Arsenal first team due to his inexperience another issue is what position to play him in. He has been used as the advanced central midfielder and on the flanks in pre-season but last year for the reserves he even played as a false number 9, I dare to say a-la Lionel Messi, and scored against Newcastle reserves.
Eisfield will be hoping for some playing time in the Capital One Cup(League Cup) this season and maybe the earlier rounds of the FA Cup, it is unlikely he will be allowed to go on loan as he is still acclimatising to the country and English playing style and Wenger would prefer he did that close to home.
Serge Gnarby is an interesting prospect who despite not making Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia where a few younger players were taking in place of the recovering European internationals was called up to training camp in Germany were it was just the first team.
Signed from Stuttgart last summer after he chose Arsenal over Man City, one of few players to do so recently and an instant positive in any Arsenal fan’s eyes, Gnarby has been settling down in the U-18’s scoring 6 goals before ascending to the Reserves and getting two in 6 appearances.
He has the ability to play anywhere across the 3 in a 4-2-3-1, his key assets are his pace and dribbling prowess, he has a sprinting past and believes he can challenge Walcott for his position on the pitch and at the top of the track times.
Being a young German he will have the opportunity to learn from the older more experienced Podolski and Mertesacker, Podolski could be of a great help in teaching him on how to play from the wings.
Confidence and self-belief are not lacking as he had sighted breaking into Wenger’s first team plan as his goals but again more realistically playing time in the Capital One Cup is expected.
Wenger has said in the past his preference for Bundesliga players as they “settle quickly in the Premier League, whose physical style in many ways mirrors that of the Bundesliga’s.”
Eisfield and Gnarby are both good prospects for the future and though I’m sure their names will be banded around Arsenal fans in the near future only time will tell if their bright start will turn into a red future.