Defence resolute as Arsenal prevail past Fulham in U21 Premier League Cup

U21 Premier League Cup- Last 16

Fulham 0 Arsenal 1 (Eisfeld 59)

By Jeorge Bird @ Motspur Park

Chris McGrath/Getty Images AsiaPac

Chris McGrath/Getty Images AsiaPac

A strong Arsenal U21 side containing the returning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and three other senior internationals demonstrated much courage and endeavour to prevail past a dangerous Fulham side in the U21 Premier League Cup this evening.

The victory, which was secured courtesy of yet another goal from the prolific Thomas Eisfeld, propels Arsenal into the Quarter-Finals of the competition, with a home tie against Chelsea the reward for Steve Gatting’s side.

Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the first 45 minutes before being withdrawn in a pre-planned substitution and, although the winger did demonstrate some signs of rustiness in his first game since August, he came close to scoring with a well-struck shot from the edge of the area.

Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong and Ryo, all members of the first-team squad, also featured, but most of the star performers for Arsenal were under-21 regulars, with defenders Semi Ajayi, Isaac Hayden and Nico Yennaris, the latter operating in the unfamiliar position of left-back, all turning in commendable performances.

Fulham were dangerous throughout the evening, with Muamer Tankovic and Ange-Freddy Plumain causing numerous problems for the Arsenal backline, but goalkeeper Matthew Macey was alert to clear the danger on each occasion.




Oxlade Chamberlain-Eisfeld-Ryo


subs: Toral (for Oxlade-Chamberlain 45), Kamara (for Frimpong, 86). Not used: Crowley, Ormonde-Ottewill, Iliev.

Macey was forced into an intervention early on, with the former Bristol Rovers goalkeeper doing well to claim a dangerous cross, with the hosts enjoying the better of the opening stages at their impressive Motspur Park facilities.

Arsenal’s first moment of attacking menace inevitably involved Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the England international could only direct an audacious lobbed effort over the target after he was played through by Benik Afobe.

Frimpong, who seemed to be lacking sharpness having not featured at any level recently, then directed an effort well wide and just moments later Afobe couldn’t quite connect with a fizzing cross when well positioned in front of goal.

Tankovic was always a threat on the counter-attack for Fulham, but Arsenal were beginning to assert themselves on proceedings, with Oxlade-Chamberlain directing a well-taken free-kick towards goal only for the impressive Jesse Joronen to tip the ball over his crossbar.

Arsenal then carved out a succession of chances in quick succession, with Frimpong finding Afobe, whose shot lacked conviction before Oxlade-Chamberlain’s angled drive was palmed away swiftly by Joronen, with Eisfeld failing to convert the re-bound.

Fulham piled the pressure on the Arsenal goal in the closing stages of the opening period, but the Gunners’ defence, marshalled expertly by Ajayi and Hayden, was always alert to the danger.

Jon Toral then replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain at the start of the second-half, but it was Fulham who were the most dangerous following the resumption of play, with the quicksilver Plumain causing much consternation for Jenkinson with his searing runs down the left flank.

Macey made two impressive saves in a short period of time and Arsenal were living dangerously for a while, with Ajayi and Hayden frequently called upon to make all manner of vital blocks and interceptions.

Their resilience eventually reaped a tangible reward, with Eisfeld powering a shot past Joronen after good work from Yennaris down the left wing resulted in a succession of chances, with Eisfleld, as he so often does, finding the back of the net with the minimum of fuss.

Arsenal sought to double their advantage immediately and, if truth be told, they really should have done better in the direct aftermath of the goal, with Jenkinson shooting horribly wide and Frimpong, who had a spell on loan at Fulham last season, losing his composure when in front of goal.

Yennaris, demonstrating much ingenuity and evidently eager to impress following his disappointing loan spell with Bournemouth, then found the net with a seemingly legitimate effort which, much to his surprise, was ruled out for offside.

Jenkinson and the diligent Kristoffer Olsson then squandered further opportunities, but Yennaris soon had to make a crucial intervention at the other end to cut out Plumain’s searching cross before it reached Moussa Dembele.

Macey excelled himself late on, with the goalkeeper, who seems a far more promising prospect than Deyan Iliev, making several crucial stops in the closing stages. Arsenal introduced Glen Kamara for the struggling Frimpong, but they still had much work to attend to as the game drew to a frantic conclusion.

Joronen went up for a corner from which one of his team-mates rattled the outside of the far post with a header, then an in-swinging free-kick took a deflection off Ajayi before eventually being claimed by Macey.

Arsenal had rode their luck a little, but their perseverance eventually paid off and, having inflicted Fulham’s first defeat at this level this season, they will now face another one of their London rivals, Chelsea, in the last eight.

If last season’s meeting between the two sides in the NextGen Series can provide any sort of indication of what is in store, it could well be a classic encounter.



  1. JB

    Seems like ajayi was impressive again? I know it’s early days for him at the club but what do u think his chances are of lining up against Coventry or going out on loan. It sounds like he is putting real pressure on miquel djourou and Hayden to become 4th or 5th choice centre back if u include Sagna. Though the kouyate rumours have surfaced again which might put pay to that.

    As for the earlier post about akpom, how did afobe play tonight and was there any rules about overage players in this cup? Only I thought park might be involved? I was also surprised not to see Viviano or zelalem.

      1. Agree with that, centre back has to be the hardest position for a manager to bring in a young CB unless he is truly outstanding and physically capable of handling experienced centre forwards. That in itself is an unusual combination for a player under 21 look at how senderos and then djourou used to fail against drogba still then again didn’t most. Phil Jones is another hardly used at all in his best position by man United.

    1. Whats up? he got an injury I heard. Will never gonna make it anyway here. Let him join a dutch league. The few games I’ve seen Ryo play this season has been really poor. Every time Ryo play I try to reset my mind about him but the decision makings he does on the pitch is simply too bad.

      Gnabry will get the chances ahead of Ryo every time. Joel campbell will be a much better option than Ryo is too. No hope for Ryo here. I am pretty sure Martinez wont get him either now when he’s in Everton. Owen Coyle might get him in Wigan again.

      I also wonder how Afobe played.

      1. “I also wonder how Afobe played.”

        He was clearly lacking fitness and struggled throughout.

      2. clearly lacking fitness. Guess how long it does to get back to fitness? He has had like 2 months or more with full training. At this point its all about playing games. And that is not down to fitness. Talents is permanents. Chamberlain was best on the pitch and yet he had less time than Afobe and all the rest on the pitch.

        Please explain that one to me. Because he is lacking fitness the most of all the players on the pitch.

        PLEASE explain this one with your logic. Wanna hear this amazing explanation.

      3. Must be that he is shit then. Either way, he was off the pace of the game and struggled throughout.
        I would prefer to give him the benefit of doubt, but if you want to be harsh go ahead.

      4. There are highlights out there. I know you was not in the match for sure. You just want to talk shit. No one is saying Afobe was bad except you. Coincidence?

        I will let you talk as much as you want. the talent spotting is not something for you. I can tell you that. Afobe looked good did not mess around with the ball for fun.

      5. Now telling me where I have been
        Interestingly I noticed a link to an article above…

        Seems it isn’t just me who felt Benik flopped at Bolton.

        Don’t know if you have noticed but no-one is praising Beni either. They praise other players, but not one single person has even mentioned Afobe bar you. Olsson, Hayden, Eisfeld, Yennaris and Ajeyi are getting praise but…

        Talent spotting is not for me? Haha, you think you are some sort of super talent scout haha. You are just trying to be controversial and confrontational and I would bet it is boring the readers of Jeorge’s blog.

      6. So you linked an article then say oh not only me thinks Afobe flopped. I still think he is a good player you idiot. I did not say he was an amazing player for Bolton or championship. I said it not a flopped. Big fucking difference. And Afobe still played in the championship while Akpom hasn’t even play a single match, get it?

        Not only that. You laugh at me saying Coyle may get him to wigan. HOW is that funny? Explain to me why you laugh? Is he too good for championship?

        I still don’t understand why you linked and think you proved anything you moron. I also don’t think I am some kind of talent scout. But when someone say Akpom should play ahead of Park and Afobe because Park was a “flopped” in la liga…. then you are simply stupid. There are no doubt Park, Afobe and Sanogo is a better player. Suddenly you changed your arguments saying Bandtner is fit. No he is not. Saying playing Afobe will only injured him and thats why Akpom should play, saying park totally flopped in a la liga… like it is easy to come to a new team with new language and play like messi right away. I already told you he was in div 1 in france and the captain of his team. He is a full international with lots of experience. He can play and help the team in FA cup vs smaller teams for sure. You simply think Akpom can play because he has done good in U18 and U21. You don’t really see the talent and the way I do it.

        Then you came with arguments like the delayed to brentford was depending on Bendtner. Do you work for the teams? NO. You have no fucking clue. why it was delayed and if it was even delayed. You have no idea how many teams or how long the teams have been talking about a loan of Akpom. Just use your small brain.

      7. Not only that. You laugh at me saying Coyle may get him to wigan. HOW is that funny? Explain to me why you laugh? Is he too good for championship?
        Coyle hahahaha. Wigan Hahahahahahahaha.

  2. good performance, thought Olsson done well in midfield.
    Very solid perfomance by Yennaris at left back.
    Defensively sound, good to see him making runs forward. His run and cross created for fulhams defence resulting in Eisfield scoring and then saw his goal disallowed for a dubious offside after a clever one two.
    Hopefully gets out on loan and plays this time, unlike going toBournemouth as christmas cover.

  3. Good result, good performance. Obviously, a lot of these boys can make (or will make) the first team, just a little touch here and there on their overall output.
    Eisfield is a unique player. Good positioning and calculated run in to the box to get goals. He is always getting crucial goals. I think AW don’t want to give him out on loan because he feels he (Eisfield) has place in first team in the future (say next season).
    Frimpong, he needs to work on himself seriously if he would ever have chance to play here. He seems to me an average player. A loan move will seriously help him.
    Nico, Olsson, Hayden, Ajayi….Great job…

  4. Hopefully a few of these have pushed their cases for a loan forward to watching scouts.
    Ryo, Eisfeld and Frimpong could definitely do a job for struggling teams like Fulham, Palace, maybe even WBA.

  5. If only Frimpong were to spend the same amount of time on analysing his game and eradicating his flaws than he spend on social media and others external activities. Maybe like JET, he needs to be released by AFC and dropped into lower leagues. Reality can act as the necessary wake up call otherwise known as the kick up the back side.
    Eisfeld looks like a future Ramsey. He has an eye for a goal and knows when to run into the box. However he needs to seriously bulk up, before being considered for the first team. The same with Zelalem. Both would be bullied off the ball. At this stage of theirs development a loan at a championship club could cause more damages than benefits.
    Ryo looks like a player who needs one2one coaching session to learn about 1) keeping composure when facing a goalkeeper, 2) know about by line cross, 3) using oriented control to evade defender when back to goal and 4) anticipating tackle and avoid them. His lack of anticipation of bad tackle lead to his injuries. Getting kicks repeatedly means that he keeps getting small hematoma that lead to muscles problems. You can see that he hadn’t had his football education in a European country.
    Jorge, do you think that Semi Ajayi will be considered for the first team next season?

    1. “…Eisfeld looks like a future Ramsey. He has an eye for a goal and knows when to run into the box. However he needs to seriously bulk up, before being considered for the first team. The same with Zelalem. Both would be bullied off the ball….”

      Dunno about that: Fabian Delph at Villa is about 5 foot 8 and fairly slight. But he has cood core strength, is aggressive and knows how to shield the ball. That’s what you need.

      Also need to be smart enough to see your passes before you get the ball and move it on, so that the opponent has less time to meet you and get into close quarters. Zelalem has that for sure. Can do more and am sure he will. Same for Eisfield.

      I think Wenger needs to stop flogging his top 15 players to death and start using more of the players he has. Many of these guys could easily integrate well into a strong-ish first team lineup. You dont have to play them all at once.

      1. Wengers priority has to be winning a trophy at the moment hence he is working with his best players. Unfortunately opportunity hasn’t presented itself too much this season with the draws in the cups not being too kind to the youngsters and late qualification in the ECL group. However Coventry does present a small opportunity to play some of the younger players. Wenger gambled earlier in the season against wba and won (just) it will be interesting to see who makes that one?

  6. Eisfeld seems to be a young Paul Scholes yet I keep hearing that he drifts in and out of games. Even now he has scored but no one is really talking about him. He’s not worth the hype?

    1. I disagree about not worth the hype as there is hardly any hype, Ask any pro footballer what is the hardest thing to do in football and he will tell you it’s scoring goals in a match (not training) ok keepers might tell u something different but scoring goals is a technique that eisfeld has down to a tee. Unfortunately for him Wenger needs more than that from his attacking midfielders and until now Walcott ozil cazorla Ramsey ox rosicky podolski gnabry Wilshire and even Ryo have their nose in front of eisfeld. However eisfeld is clearly next in line for a place in the 3 behind the striker it’s up to him now to force his way ahead of some of the others but his lack of creativity will always be against him a bit like it was for lansbury

      1. I can’t lie that I have watched eisfeld much bt from the little I’ve seen eg the game against reading, he’s very composed in possession and turned the game on its head so about creativity, I think he has it in his locker. I just think u probably can’t build a team round him cause he drifts in and out like ozil

      2. I disagree abt eisfeld lack of creativity cause the little I watched on him eg game against reading, he turned the game on its head so he def has creativity in his locker…more than walcott and ramsey.

      3. I think of all the players yet to experience a loan, eisfeld needs it the most. i might be wrong here but i think he is the eldest player we have yet to go on loan or make it into the first team squad regularly.

        Now here is a player that would suit wigan, especially as they have a german manager

      4. I cant claim to know much about Eisfeld but the little I have seen like the game against reading, he came in as a sub and turned the game on its head so he def has alot of creativity. Combine that with his close control and his goal scoring and you have a very good player. Walcott lacks technical skill but is quick and does score alot while I tend to think with Ramsey its more about form than actual class. Eisfeld needs to go out on loan to show what he can do.

  7. As I understand it, Afobe was played out of position (usually as a sub) at Bolton but he then went to Millwall and did very well until he got injured.

  8. Afobe was tracked by Barcelona when he was 16. That is how great a talent he is. However to succeed in football you need talent, you need mental strength and you need a little luck with injuries. With only talent and mental strength the road to first team action is long and hard.
    Those that are lucky enough to go through the important 16- 21 years old without to many serious and long term injuries have a better chance to make it.

    Anyone who wants Akpom to succeed better PRAY on their knees he does not have to go through a injury nightmare ala Sangono or Afobe. Cos if that happens, if Akpom has to spend as much time on the side line as these two have, he too will struggle to break through. Nobody cares if you are talented if yo cannot play.
    Just like Afobe and Sangono has. He will only have two of those three vital ingredients…

    Only very special boys with talents like for example Wilshere and Diaby are allowed to spend almost unlimited time on the sideline because one knows that when and if they ever come back they will be true game changers. Those players when fully fit could be the ones that are the difference between 1st and 4th…

  9. One other lad that hasn’t really had any luck with injuries is Ryo. The boy ‘s got loads of talent but then his progress is being curtailed by neva ending injuries.

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