Arsenal U21s held by Stoke City despite Eisfeld brace

U21 Premier League- Game 1

Stoke City 2 (Thomas 60, Waring 77) Arsenal 2 (Eisfeld 32, 47)

Arsenal U21s surrendered a two goal lead to eventually draw 2-2 away to Stoke City in the opening game of their league campaign. The Gunners, who endured a horrendous pre-season, started well and were 2-0 up just after the break through a brace from the prolific Thomas Eisfeld, but a strike from Adam Thomas, who latched onto a mistake from Daniel Boateng, and a penalty from George Waring saw the points shared.

Coach Steve Gatting had a rather small group of players to choose from, with Gedion Zelalem, Isaac Hayden and Serge Gnabry all being left out, suggesting that the trio will be involved in the first-team’s trip to face Fenerbahce later this week.

Hector Bellerin and Damian Martinez were also absent, whilst with a further four players on the treatment table and three out on loan, Gatting had to call upon several members of the U18 side that started their season with a 2-1 win over Liverpool on Friday.

Deyan Iliev, Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor and Glen Kamara all made their competitive debuts at this level, but there were still some more experienced faces on show in Chuba Akpom, Eisfeld, Kristoffer Olsson and Boateng.






subs: Maitland-Niles (for Jeffrey, 83) Not used: Huddart, Fagan, Uade, Jebb, .

Iliev had to be alert to claim a Stoke header in the early stages of the game, which will certainly have been of great benefit to the goalkeeper’s confidence after he conceded an avalanche of goals during a torturous pre-season programme.

Scott Heavey/Getty Images Europe

Scott Heavey/Getty Images Europe

Arsenal struggled to implement their free-flowing, passing game on a difficult pitch, but were fortunate that the referee waved play on when James Alabi went down under Boateng’s challenge in the penalty area.

O’Connor, who has impressed with his calm demeanour during his outings for the club thus far, then made a vital last-ditch interception with former Everton youngster George Waring lurking in close proximity following a dangerous cross by Florent Cuvelier.

Alabi then saw a shot deflected over the crossbar as Stoke continued to dominate during the first-half, but Arsenal responded with their first clear-cut chance of the game; Anthony Jeffrey seizing possession and using his blistering pace to surge towards goal before seeing his shot parried for a corner.

That chance seemed to inject Arsenal with some much-needed confidence, and, from that point onwards, they started to carve out more opportunities. First Alex Iwobi, who impressed with his trickery, almost slid in the on-rushing Akpom, then the winger found Eisfeld, who latched onto the ball and fired home a ferocious effort to maintain his impressive record of a goal every two games for the second-string since joining from Borussia Dortmund.

Stoke attempted to mount an instant fight-back, through the one senior player on show in Maurice Edu, but the midfielder, who has been capped 45 times by the United States, saw his shot repelled by Iliev.

Arsenal could have doubled their advantage before the break, but Eisfeld shot just wide after good work from Kamara and Olsson.

The second goal would come just two minutes after the re-start, however, and it was entirely unsurprising that it was Eisfeld who provided the finishing touch once again. On this occasion it was a sublime individual effort from the German, who carefully lifted the ball over goalkeeper Dale Eve from 20 yards out to make it 2-0.

At that point it seemed as if Arsenal’s lead was only going to increase further, with Jeffrey almost finding the net, before Olsson tested Eve with a well-taken free-kick.

Stoke, much to Arsenal’s surprise, then pulled a goal back entirely against the run of play with Thomas capitalising on a weak back pass from Boateng before beating Iliev with ease to halve the deficit.

The momentum was now very much with the home side, with Waring heading wide when well placed, but Jeffrey was always a threat on the counter-attack for Arsenal and the winger saw a shot of his own saved before teeing up Olsson, who suffered the same misfortune in front of goal.

Then came the moment that decided the game, with Iliev bringing down Waring in the penalty area. The referee pointed straight to the spot, but some Arsenal players complained about Olsson being fouled in the build-up to the incident.

Waring was in unforgiving mood, however, and confidently dispatched the penalty to draw Stoke level at 2-2. In an entertaining game, Akpom almost had the final say with a late shot, but Eve was equal to it.

Arsenal will be deeply disappointed to have surrendered a seemingly comfortable two-goal lead in such circumstances, but, on the positive side, this was a much improved team performance from the majority of those demonstrated in pre-season.



  1. well done to the boys. Dont know about the stoke team, but we put on a very young side. This tafari moore lad seems to have come out of nowhere and he is becoming a regular for the under-21. Jeorge, any idea of how highly is he regarded among the coaching staffs

  2. What’s happening with Thomas Eisfeld. He is quality. How do they rate him at Arsenal will he break into the 1st team this season.

  3. I think this was a good performance seeing as we hsd such an inexperienced team out with players like Moore and O’ Connor pushed straight into the u21 set up which is only going to be good for there development

  4. A very young Arsenal side, I think Jebb deserve to come on after his good display against Liverpool last Friday. A decent start to the season after a very poor pre-season, let’s hope it continues. And where is Wrenny?

    1. he doesn’t really say anything about the academy, just that he doesn’t like modern football. the rest of it is just bullshit really. Any idiot can point out our pre season results weren’t good

    2. Thanks for the link interesting read and does highlight the fact there is something not quite right with the u21’s.

      I guess we will never know exactly why the players with potential left this season like jernande meade and reice charles-cooke. Also questions must be asked about the appointement of Steve Gatting who seems to lack experience at this level.

      Clubs like Aston Villa and Southampton to name just two seem to be producing alot of quality players in all positions that we seem to be lacking.

  5. Moore hasn’t really come out of no where – a regular first name on the team sheet at U16 and U18 level. He has the talent to go far, cementing a place in the U21’s will surely catch Wenger’s eye at some point soon. And O’Connor has done really well, turning Liam Brady’s mind around from releasing him not so long ago, to some assured performances of late at U18’s level. Well done to the U21’s, slowly progressing, even under Gatting’s somewhat indifferent stewardship.

  6. anyone who has seen the amount of coaching and playing talent leave Arsenal over the last
    3 years knows there is a cancer in Hale End / Shenley. Step forward LBrady and CLaraman.
    The coaching exodus to Brentford and player departure to all points out of the academy mean the coaching and talent pool is very low. D Drummy left 5 years ago and has won 2 FA Youth Cups at Chelksi why is he there and not at the club hes supported for years. Until certain characters leave the set up will continue to be sub standard – see results from u16 to u21s over last few season

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