Pre-Match Report

Under-21s: Everton v Arsenal - Preview

Monday night's defeat to Bolton epitomised Arsenal Under-21s' season so far.

Dominant for long periods and playing an attractive brand of football, a combination of lacklustre finishing and lapses of concentration in defence ensured they finished with nothing to show for their display.

Make no mistake, the Gunners were the better side at the County Ground. They were much-improved from the defeat to Tottenham last week with Jon Toral, Hector Bellerin and Gedion Zelalem all providing impetus going forward.

Arsenal looked set to take the three points their performance merited when Thomas Eisfeld thundered home a header midway through the second half. But goals from Jack Lester and Andy Kellett ensure a second straight defeat for Steve Gatting's side.

"We got to the byline plenty of times but lacked the final ball"

Steve Gatting

"It was very disappointing for the boys to lose that game," Gatting said. "We had a good response from the Tottenham game and we played very well.

"Our attitude was spot on, we were very good in between the penalty areas but didn't take advantage of the good positions we got into. We got to the byline plenty of times but lacked the final ball. After taking the lead we didn't defend too well and we got punished."

Goalscorer Eisfeld was also left frustrated that his goal was not enough to secure a victory but insisted the team responded well from that defeat at White Hart Lane.

"We're very disappointed because we played quite well and created so many chances," he said. "We got caught twice on the counter-attack but I thought overall we were unlucky. We're very disappointed because we played quite well and created so many chances.

"The main goal for us is to win as many games as possible now and finish as high as we can. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways on Thursday."

Eisfeld has been at Arsenal for just over two years now and seems content with how his game has developed in that time. Since his arrival, the attacking midfielder has been joined by fellow Germans Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Gedion Zelalem. Eisfeld admits it's helped to create a more comfortable environment for him both on and off the pitch.

Thomas Eisfeld

Thomas Eisfeld


"We spend a lot of time together outside football which is important because it makes you feel more settled," he said. "We like to go out for dinner and socialise with each other so it's easier to adapt to life as a footballer.

"Per is the one who gives me a lot of advice," added Eisfeld. "He's a real leader and is helping me a lot both on and off the pitch."

Next up for Arsenal is another trip north to play Everton at Southport FC. The defeat at Bolton means a play-off place is now unlikely but the Gunners still have games in hand on the teams directly above them and the Toffees are one of the teams in their sights.

"It will be another tough game," Gatting said. "Everton are always a tough side and they have a good academy. But if we keep the same attitude as we did against Bolton then we won't be far off."

We will have live tweets from the @Arsenal account from the Merseyrail Community Stadium, kick-off 7pm (UK time).

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