Henri Lansbury and Gervinho Star for Arsenal in Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup
Arsenal winger Henri Lansbury has a penchant for scoring goals when he dons the Arsenal shirt.
Back in September 2010, when the Gunners were handed the thankless task of heading to White Hart Lane for an early-round fixture in the Carling Cup against their hated North London rivals Tottenham, Lansbury was one of several young players manager Arsene Wenger opted to sprinkle amongst a healthy collection of senior team members.
Then 19, Lansbury responded with the sort of goal he's grown remarkably adept at providing. Ghosting into the penalty area—cheers to former Gunner David Bentley for his marking deficiencies—Lansbury was able to poke home from a powerful low cross whipped in by Jack Wilshere on the left flank.
Despite the good omens augured by that strike, against Spurs to boot, Lansbury has never been graced with the sort of playing time in the senior team set up that would announce his arrival as a definite, enduring thing.
He has spent time on loan during the past several seasons, making such climes as Norwich and, last season, west London—where he even spent time in goal for West Ham United—his home.
Through it all Lansbury has persevered; he has never raised his voice about the potential "injustice" of not being granted more opportunities at the senior level. He has never looked to play the media game and levy a potential move away from Arsenal in search of more playing time.
What he's done instead is continue his hard-nosed approach to the game, seen yet again on Saturday at St. Mary's Stadium, where Lansbury was one of the better players on the pitch during Arsenal's preseason friendly against Anderlecht, last season's Belgian champions.
He's making a habit out of scoring at the Riverside, as this wonder goal for the England U-21s against Belgium shows all too well.
Arsenal's official website, which had reporter Rob Kelly on hand to provide live updates of the proceedings, said Lansbury "impressed here at St Mary’s with an energetic performance."
Lansbury provided the only goal in the encounter, making a well-timed run toward the near post in the 34th minute (the games only lasted 45 minutes), where Carl Jenkinson picked him out with a good cross after some excellent work on the right flank.
The finish was not an easy one, but Lansbury coaxed his side-volley past a helpless Silvio Proto and into the back of the net.
A "classy finish," Kelly waxed about the goal in his aforementioned match review.
Lansbury would spend just 16 minutes on the pitch in Arsenal's next and final match of the tournament against hosts Southampton, just half an hour removed from the close of the Anderlecht tilt.
He very nearly added his second goal of the tournament in the 11th minute, only to be denied by keeper Tommy Forecast after Lansbury had raced on to a ball played over the top of the defense.
But where Lansbury left the pitch, Gervinho—another Arsenal player who likely didn't get the sort of playing time he would have preferred in last season's run-in (he started just five of his last 12 games for the Gunners after returning from the African Cup of Nations in February)—rose to the fore.
The former Lille star (he scored 14 league goals and added 10 assists during Les Dogues' Ligue 1 title-winning season in 2010-11) did not hit the highs many Arsenal fans expected of him, looking a bit too wasteful at times in the final third, unable to convert his mazy dribbling into production.
Against Southampton, however, Gervinho was at his dynamic best, firing a searing drive over Forecast's goal in the 20th minute before canceling out Swans striker Jay Rodriguez's 31st-minute opener with a superb bit of play in the 35th.
Gathering the ball on the left flank after a neat one-two with Andre Santos, Gervinho skipped past a despairing lunge by a Southampton defender, touching the ball toward the end line. He recovered before it went out of play, proceeding to cut away from goal before feinting ever so slightly, thoroughly wrong-footing the arriving defender in the process, finally smashing home from eight yards out.
It would prove an important equalizer, as it pushed the match into penalties after neither team was able to find a winner through 45 minutes.
Even though Arsenal failed to triumph on spot-kicks, they still took home the winner's medal for the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup on the strength of their earlier win over Anderlecht (the Belgian side had defeated Southampton 1-0 in a previous match).
While it's important not to get swept away by performances in the preseason—remember, Gervinho was fantastic in his first appearance for Arsenal against FC Cologne last August, and played quite well in the early going of the season before fading after the new year—to see the Ivorian enjoy such a stellar display against a side Arsenal will face in the Premiership this season has to be heartening.
By Agencies, 16/07/2012