Neita hits rare goal but U21s are denied victory against Reading

U21 Premier League

Reading 2 Arsenal 2 (Neita, Eisfeld)

By Jeorge Bird @ the Madejski Stadium

Arsenal U21s were denied victory in their final fixture of 2012 by a late equaliser from Reading at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon after yet another strike from the clinical Thomas Eisfeld seemed set to hand Terry Burton’s side all three points.

In the end, the result was rather insignificant given that Arsenal have already qualified for the Elite Phase, but they still will have been disappointed having failed to play their renowned free-flowing football with as much regularity as they would have liked. They took the lead when Nigel Neita finished adroitly for his first competitive goal in nearly two years, but they were pegged back through an equaliser from the impressive Tariqe Fosu, before Eisfeld applied the finishing touch to a neat team move. A man with Arsenal connections had the final say, however, as Niall Keown, son of Arsenal legend Martin, struck a late leveller.

Arsenal were without injured duo Serge Gnabry and Nico Yennaris, but called upon the sublime attacking quartet of Eisfeld, Kristoffer Olsson, Jon Toral and Zak Ansah, who came in for  Chuba Akpom up front.



Mugabo- Toral



subs: Akpom, Hajrovic, Fagan, Charles-Cook.

Both sides got off to a slow start as they struggled to adapt to the strange atmosphere, with a small crowd gathered inside a ground which had seen a classic cup tie the last time an Arsenal side had visited it. This fixture was nothing of the sort, but Arsenal did have the ball in the net early on when Eisfeld tucked home Hector Bellerin’s cross, but the German’s strike was correctly ruled out for offside.

Arsenal’s formation rather hindered them in the early stages, with no nominal left winger in the side. This meant that the majority of their early play was very narrow, but they still managed to create an opportunity when the rejuvenated Neita saw a dangerous cross hacked away following good work from Ansah.

Ansah was at the heart of the action early on as he made his first start of the season following a lengthy injury lay-off, but the forward couldn’t quite execute an acrobatic effort properly from Bellerin’s cross. At the other end, Martinez, who was enjoying a rather quieter time than his previous visit to the Madejski, had to gather a tame cross, before Neita squandered a good opportunity at the other end.

The attacker made amends almost immediately, however, after firing a fierce shot past Jonathan Henly. Toral spread a crossfield ball into the path of his compatriot Bellerin, who in turn found Neita lurking on the edge of the six yard box. Neita let the ball run across him before seizing control of it and finally breaking his goalscoring duck in competitive fixtures.

Reading threatened an instant reply, with Aaron Tshibola rattling the stanction, but the hosts did find the net soon after the break when Aaron Tshibola scored with a fine diving header after connecting with a cross delivered from the right flank.

Arsenal responded with Olsson seeing a shot deflected for a corner, before Ansah’s effort was parried away following Elton Monteiro’s knockdown. Monteiro himself then headed wide from Toral’s corner, before Akpom was introduced in place of Neita.

Akpom played a key role in what, for so long, seemed as if it was going to be the winner as he headed the ball on for Toral, who prodded the ball into the path of Eisfeld, with the German finishing in typical style.

Akpom then claimed a penalty after being brought down by Reading goalkeeper Henly, but the award would probably have been harsh on the hosts. Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure, with Toral’s corner striking a post, before Reading missed a chance from close range.

Ansah and Toral missed further chances as the clock ticked down, and it seemed as if they were going to hold on for the victory, especially when Martinez made two good saves late on. He was beaten, however, by Keown’s forceful header in stoppage time, despite the Argentinian stopper getting a hand to the ball.

In all, Arsenal will be frustrated to have surrendered the win late on, but the first half of the season can be looked back on with success, with the likes of Eisfeld and Gnabry having made their senior debuts, and others, such as Akpom, Isaac Hayden, who was impressive here,  and Alfred Mugabo having established themselves at U21 level.

As for Eisfeld, it is a shame that he is not registered for the Champions League in addition to not being eligible for the NextGen Series, meaning that he will take this week off. Hopefully, however, he will come under consideration for the first-team in the Premier League in the near future.

Player ratings:

Damian Martinez-7- Had little to do for so long, but was unfortunate to be beaten having just made a fantastic save late on.

Hector Bellerin-7- Provided a useful outlet down the right flank and delivered some dangerous crosses.

Elton Monteiro-6- Largely composed but couldn’t really be faulted for either goal.

Isaac Hayden-7- Some superb interceptions and a growing force at this level.

Samir Bihmoutine- 6- Worked hard down the left flank.

Alfred Mugabo-6- Another who has settled in well at this level, the first-year made some decisive interventions.

Jon Toral-7- More composed than his performance in the Youth Cup and involved in both goals.

Kris Olsson-7- So comfortable on the ball, he didn’t always find himself in the most effective areas.

Thomas Eisfeld-7- Took his goal well even though he wasn’t heavily involved otherwise.

Nigel Neita-7- A refreshingly enthusiastic performance from the forward, who scored once and could have scored another.

Zak Ansah-6- Still working his way back to full fitness but can be largely satisfied with this run-out.


Chuba Akpom (for Neita, 63)- 7- Offered more of a focal point than Ansah, and played a role in Eisfeld’s goal.

Sead Hajrovic (for Mugabo, 86)- Slotted into midfield but had too little time to make an impact.

Not used: Reice Charles-Cook, Zach Fagan.



  1. i want to see kris olsson in the carling cup or any first team games do you think he will get the chance to impress like cesc fabregas did at 16 or is wenger not as brave as before

  2. Hopefully we get to see Akpom with someone else upfront. I would love to see him with Gervinho. Our strikers need to learn to be more greedy and dangerous upfront instead of a pass master. In that area as a striker they should have one thing in their mind. I hate to see we trying to pass the ball around when a shot is all we can do most of the times.

  3. Hahahahah didn’t someone say that strikers “have to do more than just score goals”??? And now they are crying that we don’t have any poachers, or true strikers!!! That’s funny as hell man, funny as hell. I’m not even going to name, names here…it’s just strange to see someone so convinced that they are right, end up contradicting themselves in the end:D

    1. They need to score more goals and be more dangerous not ONLY pass masters! You are truly stupid to not get that. Look at our strikers…. they lack goals and they are pretty bad at passing at final third too. compare our strikers to other top teams and we easily have some of the worse by far. And again they need to score more goals not only pass pass pass. But that is also something required at Arsenal. Walcott is not a fucking striker when he play wings. He is a winger and NEEDS to learn to pass too.

  4. I’m confused though…he’s scoring goals like a striker, so why can’t he be a striker??? I think the only thing going against him is his lack of size and muscle…he passed fairly well against Swansea, and I have seen an improvement in his passing. No he’ll never be Dennis Bergkamp, but so far as his passing goes, he is improving. I agree though…I think he should be playing on the wings, UNLESS we go to a two striker system!!! Then, and only then should he play as a striker…don’t know if that makes any sense, but it does to me!!!:D

    1. If walcott is more central the back line defense of the opposition teams will be much more deeper. Some teams are already deep but more teams will be deeper and that will make our final third even worse. Because Walcott is on the wings and is faster than most opposition player he get those spaces he needs sometimes when we try to counter attack or is playing down the flank where he gets to run towards goal. He wont get as much space to use his speed if he is used as a central striker. And because he so wasteful with his decision making that will make us lose a lot of balls in the middle. He is also “small” and “weak”, not really sure about that though… Messi, Falcao, Gervinho and Villa can play in the central position too and I think they are about the same height and size.

      I want to see Walcott in the middle just to see if that will work but Walcotts biggest assets is his space. He can score too but I am not convince about that when 4-5 goals comes from lower division teams. I can change my mind as long as he prove me wrong. I predict highly ineffectiveness, extremely mediocre passing and a lot of waste balls. But again… he is welcome to prove me wrong and show high class scoring and make us win games again. I think he will be another Giroud but even worse. I think Giroud is alright considering this is he first season in a much higher demanding league. But if this was his 2-3 season I would think he is pretty bad.

      Chamberlain in the central position… now we are talking. I see a new Rooney in Chamberlain.

  5. I mean that Walcott is too small to play up top ON HIS OWN…Flacao is the exception to that rule, and even then, he plays in a less physically demanding league.

    I don’t CHamberlain is ready for that yet, and even then, I’m not sure he is a central striker..his shooting can be wayward at times, but I think that could come round with practice. Chamberlain has looked a little off to me this season…maybe he’s tired, I don’t know…I think he should be played in the middle at some point, whether that be as a striker or attacking midfielder, or even a central midfielder…he showed that he could play just about anywhere in the side last season, as well as in pre-season, and the early part of this season. I think he is a little tired though, and it has been detrimental to his performances. I think he COULD be a striker, but right now I see him as more of an attacking midfield player, until he develops that natural finishing that Rooney came through with at the start of his career. I don’t think that will happen for at least another year though…in the meantime, I think he either needs some rest, or some time in one set position, so he knows his role and can play accordingly.

    1. I think Chamberlain might be too fresh too but Rooney gets to play as 18 too. I would love to see how he develops in the middle because he is so creative and that is what we need. Lone striker is not working for me. Giroud is way too slow to gets into position when he needs to hold the ball high and then pass and move. Leave him on top and give someone else the 2nd striker position. 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 is what we have to go back to.


      Gervinho, podolski, walcott, chamberlain and cazorla can pretty much switch position in any 4-4-1-1.

      This is what I want to see. Less space for the slow Giroud to cover and more time and space for him to concentrate on one one thing; hold the ball up, play others towards goal, and score goals.

  6. You forgot Wilshere in there Jom???… :O I know he’s not playing GREAT, but he provides us with the link-up and possession play we need in midfield!!! Even more so than Arteta…surely he must have just slipped your mind???

    1. Wilshere and cazorla in the 442 and 4411 without Arteta is a big no. He can substitute with cazorla and walcott or if we switch to 451 to keep our lead, then he can come on. He just came back from injury which mean he is not 100%.

  7. apart from the goal he had a RELATIVELY quiet game however and was deployed on the left wing. I say relatively however because prior to that he was the star of the show in betis’s copa del rey game against vallalolid. This is a phrase from the blog forever bets:

    Hearteningly, it was another young winger, Joel Campbell, who was the star of the first half. Delivering a couple of very dangerous crosses from the left, he can also be credited for an assist as it was his powerful run in the 25th minute that won the corner which Antonio Amaya headed home decisively. (Paulao? Bah – who needs ‘im!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s