Thomas Eisfeld Continues Impressive Form with Goal Against Malaysian XI

Matthew Snyder@schnides14Analyst IIIJuly 24, 2012

Thomas Eisfeld didn't have much time to settle after Arsene Wenger swooped to sign him for £400,000 this past January 31.

Wenger had apparently been lining up the move for some time, saying that he had initially planned to bring him to Arsenal the following summer.

But with Eisfeld's club contract expiring, Wenger deemed it a prudent investment to fast-track the transfer and give the youngster more time to adapt to the football in North London.

Rushed from Dortmund, where Eisfeld had been on the books with the eponymous Bundesliga side since he was a youngster, to London for a medical to finalize the deal, the 19-year-old midfielder had barely enough time to pack his canary yellow Nike Mercurial Vapors for his trip across the Channel.

With those first hours flying by like the sequence in that Nike commercial, where the anonymous protagonist realizes his dream and signs for the Gunners, Eisfeld was handed his kit and then promptly shuttled off to Wales, where he was set to feature for the Reserves against Swansea City on February 1.

Eisfeld made an immediate impression upon Reserves coach Neil Banfield in that match (who became the first-team coach following this past season), who told Arsenal's official website he was "delighted" with the attacking midfielder's debut in a 2-0 victory.

"He was a little bit nervous, as he doesn't know anybody, but he has settled in great," Banfield said.

Eisfeld was directly involved with Arsenal's first goal on the night, combining well with fellow German Serge Gnaby before unleashing a shot that Swans' keeper Jose Moreira could only parry into the path of Zak Ansah, who converted from close range.

Banfield substituted Eisfeld as a precaution at halftime, as the midfielder had "picked up a knock on his knee," according to the coach.

That knock would prove a prickly one, eventually keeping Eisfeld out of action until an April Reserves encounter against Newcastle United.

But wouldn't you know it, in his first match back Eisfeld opened his Arsenal scoring account, slotting home the only goal in a 1-0 victory over the Magpies.

Arsenal's official website called it an "assured finish," with Eisfeld collecting a pass from Josh Rees and then showing a dash of composure to take a touch before firing into the corner.

Following his final appearance for the reserves in the side's penultimate match of the season against Everton, Eisfeld spoke about his first few months at the club.

"I have settled down very easily (at Arsenal) because everyone here has been very nice," Eisfeld told the official website. "It was difficult at the start because I got an injury in my first game, but now everything is good."

That appraisal echoed Wenger's observation that German players tend to settle quickly in the Premier League, whose physical style in many ways mirrors that of the Bundesliga's.

Eisfeld also had the added boon of first-team compatriot Per Mertesacker, whom he credited with being "a big help" with lessons about life in both London and on the pitch at Ashburton Grove.

Injury-free since that knee knock, Eisfeld has featured for Arsenal in two preseason games this July.

He started "in an advanced midfield position" against Anderlect in July 14's Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup, a tournament of 45-minute matches that Arsenal would eventually win.

Eisfeld's contribution in the 1-0 victory over the 2011-12 Belgian first-division champions helped that cause.

He was one of nine players shuffled out as Wenger rotated his side for the second match of the Liebherr Cup, but Eisfeld was named to the 24-man roster that headed for the Asia Tour.

He did not start against the Malaysian XI in Tuesday's friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, but after coming on in the 80th minute for Theo Walcott, who had himself been a halftime substitute, Eisfeld didn't wait long to make an impact.

Nico Yennaris launched upon a forward run into the Malay penalty area in the 87th minute, whereupon he cut a pass back for the arriving Eisfeld, who coolly slotted his finish home to knot the score at 1-1.

As Arsenal's official website had said of his Newcastle goal back in April, it was yet another "assured finish from an assured player."

The Gunners would find a winner through Chuks Aneke's deflected stoppage-time effort, and thus kicked off their tour with a bang.

The young man who idolized Gunners teammate Tomas Rosicky growing up, when the Czech was a superlative starlet for Borussia Dortmund in the first half of the past decade—Eisfeld said he had a picture of Rosicky in his room—is beginning to make a name for himself with yet another promising audition.

Eisfeld fancies himself a "different player" to Rosicky, whose game is so often predicated upon mazy dribbling mixed with sumptuous passing and combination play. But Wenger believes that the German's footballing qualities—"technique, good movement and skill," which the French manager rattled off upon signing him back in January, will hold him in good stead in London.

He's swapped his yellow Vapors for the newer, opting for the white-and-berry editions that flooded TV screens at Euro 2012. Just another sign, maybe, that he's moving forward with his Arsenal career.


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