Much like the days following the Liverpool loss, Arsenal have to shake off another disappointing day early in the season to quickly shift the focus onto another important match. The Gunners kick off the 2019-20 Europa League this Thursday with an opening day trip to Eintracht Frankfurt. To get a sense of Arsenal’s opponent we spoke with Brian from the Hey Eintracht Frankfurt Podcast to learn a bit about the club’s recent history, the summer transfer window, expectations for this year and their predictions for the match.
TSF: A lot of Arsenal fans will be familiar with the name Eintracht Frankfurt, but not necessarily much about the club and it’s recent history. Can you give us a brief idea of the club’s status in Germany and the general sense of how results have been over the past five years or so?
HEFP: Eintracht is a traditional club within Germany. Founded 120 years ago, there’s some silverware in the cabinet of one league title, five DFB Pokals, or German Cups, and one UEFA Cup, now the Europa League. In fan size it is only smaller than Schalke, Dortmund, Hamburg, and Bayern Munich. There’s been glory in reaching the now Champions League final vs Real Madrid and recent lows in three relegations in the last 25 years. Since survival four seasons ago via the relegation playoff with Niko Kovac we have finished top half every year and been to two consecutive Pokal finals winning the 2017/18 Cup, which you can see on Amazon Prime’s series This is Football. Last season under new coach Hütter the highlight was reaching the Europa League Semi-Final vs Chelsea.
TSF: The club plays at Commerzbank-Arena, what is the stadium like and how is the atmosphere inside? Do you expect a difference for Europa League matches?
HEFP: Renovated for the 2006 World Cup the Waldstadion, or Forest Stadium as it was known, is the definition of a cauldron of noise. Case in point when Strasbourg fans visited for their last qualifier a fan said they couldn’t hear the person next to them. European nights in Frankfurt are sacred and a group match vs Arsenal will bring out the loudest from the fans.
TSF: The club had a busy summer with big lists of players joining the club as well as heading out. How different is this year’s squad and overall what was your assessment of the summer window?
HEFP: When you sell over €100 million in players, it is a lot of change. But nearly every signing has an understanding of the Bundesliga, which over the course of the season will pay off. Something we now have is quality in our depth.
TSF: Who are the standout players for Eintracht Frankfurt at the moment that Arsenal should be most worried about?
HEFP: Bas Dost. A good comparison for Premier League fans would be a fit and firing Andy Carroll.
TSF: And give us a player which you believe to be under the radar at this point and poised for a break out season?
HEFP: Daichi Kamada, was one loan last year in Belgium and excelled. He has already shown glimpses of the talent he has in the early stages of this season.
TSF: American-based fans will be familiar with Timothy Chandler, how has he been at the club level lately and where does he rank in the club’s current depth chart?
HEFP: He normally plays in a wing-back role for Eintracht and would be first off the bench in that role as Kostic and Da Costa are the starters.
TSF: Five matches so far this season for Eintracht Frankfurt, how have they looked in the early stages of the campaign? What are the expectations for this year?
HEFP: Another top half of the table performance in the Bundesliga. While it’s hard to gauge early results, the next two matches vs Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund will be a massive test at the highest level.
TSF: Which two clubs advance from Group F in the Europa League (Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liège, & Vitória de Guimarães)?
HEFP: Eintracht & Arsenal without a doubt.
TSF: Give us a lineup and formation prediction for Thursday.
HEFP: A 3-5-2-1 formation from Eintracht as they rotated the squad over the weekend in anticipation.
TSF: And finally, what is your scoreline prediction?