Going into Arsenal's Asia Tour, all of Arsenal's possible playmakers, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere, were unavailable due to injury and Olympic duty. Abou Diaby had experience playing as a #10, but there were only really two playmakers in the squad: Thomas Eisfeld and Chuks Aneke. With Ramsey at the Olympics and Rosicky and Wilshere both injured, there's a real chance for one of Eisfeld or Aneke to impress and put themselves in Arsene Wenger's thinking for the number ten role. Thus far, Eisfeld and Aneke have done well, with both grabbing a goal against Malaysia. It's Aneke, though, who has been the more impressive and who could've staked a claim for a first-team role next season.
Aneke has been on some Arsenal fans radar for quite a while because of his impressive performances for the reserves; in particular, his ability to link up well and play excellent passes for the likes of Benik Afobe and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Like Emmanuel-Thomas, though, some wondered if his physicality made it easy for him to dominate the reserve level, especially after not having great loan spells at Stevenage and Preston. He was till, though, in Wenger's plans for this pre-season, appearing against Southampton before playing against Malaysia and Manchester City.
Aneke impressed against Malaysia, showing excellent movement and passing range, including some sparkling long passes for Benik Afobe. There was also the good pass and move combination with Ignasi Miquel that led to the Arsenal winner, but impressing against Malaysia is very different from impressing against Premier League opposition. Aneke, though, also impressed in his 25 minute cameo against Manchester City. It was not only the intelligent passes that Aneke made, but also the way he controlled play. Despite moving to a deeper position when Alex Song came off, Aneke still controlled play and made was making some excellent runs off the ball to get into good positions to create scoring chances. Given that large amounts of water splashed up every time someone kicked the ball, Aneke's play was even more impressive.
Aneke has a good chance to put his name forward for a spot in Arsenal's squad for the opening Premier League match against Sunderland. Like Jack Wilshere two years ago, Aneke has taken advantage of senior players being absent because of international duty, and with his impressive stature to go along with his good passing range, he could bring extra physicality to Arsenal's midfield, an attribute that has meant Arsene Wenger has persisted with Abou Diaby. At the very least, Aneke could be a fix to Arsenal's playmaker problem; if not now, surely in a year or two.
Related: How Arsenal's Midfield Looked Against Malaysia | Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!