Thomas Eisfeld is quietly proving himself to be a man for the big occasion. From his impressive debut for the reserves at Swansea last season to his composed display for the first team at Reading, the German midfielder has made a big impression since his arrival in January 2012.
When the 20-year-old signed for Arsenal on transfer deadline day, it was not the big-money move that many fans had craved. Eisfeld did not even have his own Wikipedia page, some complained (this was rectified within hours of the deal being announced), but the buzz surrounding the midfielder has been overwhelmingly positive ever since.
His gift of arriving late into the box to finish off flowing moves has seen him compared by some to Frank Lampard, while his maturity and efficient style of play has drawn praise from fans and team-mates alike. Upon completing his move for the player, Arsene Wenger spoke of Eisfeld having the “right ingredients” to be a success at the Club, and such has been his progress that he brought him on during that incredible 7-5 Capital One Cup victory at Reading.
"He understands football very well, has great intelligence on the pitch, is a great mover of the ball and a great mover of himself"
What followed was a display of such poise and promise that many supporters immediately called for his promotion to the first team on a permanent basis. His manager was certainly impressed with what he had seen. “He is a very interesting player and I think he will feature in the Premier League before the end of the season,” Wenger said. “He understands football very well, has great intelligence on the pitch, is a great mover of the ball and a great mover of himself.
“We were concerned that he lacked some power but in the last six months he has improved tremendously and now he is absolutely a different player when you watch him play. When the ball goes to him, you always feel that something positive will happen.”
Since then Eisfeld’s progress has slowed slightly due to a back injury sustained after last month’s 2-2 draw at Manchester United in the Under-21 Premier League. But a successful comeback against West Ham United last week means he is back in contention to face United on Wednesday evening, and he is determined to take the opportunity to impress once again.
“I'm happy to be back playing again,” Eisfeld told Arsenal.com. “The West Ham game was a difficult one for me, because I only started training two days beforehand and then played 90 minutes.
“When I was younger, I used to have back pain a lot. It was established that I've got some kind of stress fracture in my back. I did a lot of weight training in the gym and damaged a bone in my back a little bit. But I've got no pain now.
"I just want to try to stay fit and keep developing further. I'll just take things as they come and hope for a good end to the season"
“It was great to return against West Ham and I think I had quite a good game. Now I just want to try to stay fit and keep developing further. I'll just take things as they come and hope for a good end to the season.”
Eisfeld is particularly looking forward to Monday night’s game against CSKA Moscow in quarter-finals of the NextGen Series. The Germany youth international certainly won’t be overawed by the occasion, having scored on both his appearances at Emirates Stadium with the under-21s at the start of the season. And he says making his first-team debut has given him the belief that he can perform at the highest level.
“The Reading game was amazing, it was a dream,” he said. “To play in a game like that was something I won't forget. It was an incredible match.
“In the under-21s, I think I've played quite well, especially before Christmas. [Playing against Reading] gave me confidence to take into the under-21 games and I was really happy with the way things went in the first half of the season. Hopefully I can continue in that form now that I am back.”
- We will have live tweets from Wednesday's match at Underhill on the @ArsenalLive account from 6.55pm (UK time)
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