Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup
Arsenal 1 Anderlecht 0 (Lansbury)
Southampton 1 Arsenal 1 (Gervinho)
A young Arsenal side containing a smattering of first-team players received their first action of pre-season this evening as the Gunners won the Markus Liebherr Cup at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium.
A goal from Henri Lansbury gave Arsenal victory over Anderlecht in the opening game before an impressive equaliser from Gervinho was enough to earn the required draw against the hosts.
The latter game still went to a penalty shoot-out as the match finished in a draw, despite the fact that Arsenal had already secured the trophy. Arsenal may have lost the shoot-out, with youngster Kyle Ebecilio missing the decisive spot-kick, but the Gunners still succeeded in winning the trophy.
Arsene Wenger named a very young side for the opening game against Anderlecht, with Kieran Gibbs, who captained the side, Carl Jenkinson and Marouane Chamakh the only first-team players involved. Damian Martinez and Thomas Eisfeld received run-outs, whilst Kristoffer Olsson, Martin Angha and Sead Hajrovic made the bench.
subs: Mannone, Santos, Olsson, Angha, Djourou, Hajrovic, Gervinho.
Anderlecht started the brighter of the two sides and had the ball in the net early on following a mistake by Martinez, but the strike was correctly ruled out for offside.
The Belgian champions continued to dominate what was a rather low-key affair before Arsenal carved out their first opportunity just after the 20 minute mark when Chamakh latched onto Ignasi Miquel’s pass but the Moroccan’s shot was stopped.
Arsenal started to grow in confidence thereafter and eventually took the lead when Henri Lansbury made a late run into the box to latch onto a precise cross from Carl Jenkinson to tap home. The 21 year old, who has amassed over 100 senior appearances when all of his loan spells are taken into account, will be hopeful that his goal will be enough to earn him a spot on the plane for the Asia Tour.
A well-timed tackle from Daniel Boateng then prevented an Anderlecht opportunity, but Arsenal kept their focus and saw out the remainder of the game without too many problems.
Positives came in the performance of Gibbs, who captained the side with aplomb, whilst Nico Yennaris also made some good tackles and Chamakh worked hard up front.
Lansbury and Eastmond kept their places for the concluding game against the Saints, but Wenger named a more experienced side with Vito Mannone, Francis Coquelin, Andre Santos, Johan Djourou, Gervinho and the newly-promoted Kyle Bartley all being called upon. Kyle Ebecilio, who is highly regarded by the Frenchman, also received his maiden first-team outing, starting in the unfamiliar position of right-back.
subs: Martinez, Eisfeld, Olsson, Angha, Hajrovic.
The first chance fell to Southampton with James Ward-Prowse heading wide from Danny Butterfield’s delivery. Jason Puncheon then struck an effort wide before the heavily-involved Lansbury saw an effort blocked.
Olsson entered the fray in place of Lansbury with 15 minutes played, with the Swedish youngster, who is yet to make his debut for the Reserves, slotting in on the right flank. Gervinho struck a fierce effort just over then, at the other end, Ward-Prowse’s shot was deflected for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Arsenal were forced to withdraw the limping Chuks Aneke, with Martin Angha replacing the 19 year old. The Swiss youngster filled in at right-back with Ebecilio switching to the right wing position.
By this point Southampton were piling on the pressure and eventually it told. First Bartley had to be alert to clear the ball off the line after Mannone struggled to deal with a free-kick, then the hosts took the lead when summer signing Jay Rodriguez headed home Danny Fox’s delivery amidst poor Arsenal defending.
The lead didn’t last for long, though, with Gervinho creating a goal all by himself with a burst into the box before finishing adroitly through the legs of Tommy Forecast. Shortly afterwards Ebecilio was denied by Forecast whilst Santos roamed around in all manner of attacking positions.
Olsson also showed some clever touches whilst Djourou turned in an assured performance at the back as the game petered out and ended as a draw before the game went to a penalty shoot out given that the match had finished level, despite the fact that the Gunners had already accrued enough points to win the competition.
Both sides converted their first four spot-kicks, with Santos, Coquelin, Olsson and Eastmond all on target for Arsenal. Saints captain Dean Hammond was successful with their fifth penalty, but Ebecilio couldn’t do likewise and was left visibly distraught after his miss.
However, it mattered little as Arsenal’s four points still meant that they claimed the trophy.