By Rob Kelly at St Mary’s Stadium
Henri Lansbury announced his return to Arsenal in fine style by scoring the only goal of the game against Anderlecht in Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup on Saturday evening.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at West Ham United as they won promotion from the Championship, and impressed here at St Mary’s with an energetic performance.
In the Gunners’ opening match of the round-robin competition, the midfielder fired home a fine finish in the 34th minute after good work by Carl Jenkinson. That proved to be enough for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The Arsenal manager named a youthful side for this opening match of pre-season, with Kieran Gibbs captaining the side at St Mary’s.
Marouane Chamakh was handed a chance to impress up front with Sanchez Watt, with German youngster Thomas Eisfeld playing an advanced midfield role.
Anderlecht, who won the opening game of the tournament 1-0 against hosts Southampton, made a bright start and had the ball in the net within five minutes, but Tom De Sutter was flagged offside.
The Belgians remained on the front foot in the early stages, and in the 14th minute they came close to breaking the deadlock when De Sutter headed over a corner from the right.
Arsenal were struggling to impose themselves but suddenly moved up a gear in the 22nd minute, as Ignasi Miquel sent Chamakh through but the Moroccan’s shot was well saved by Silvio Proto.
Anderlecht carved out another chance just before the half-hour mark when Reynaldo twisted his way into the box and struck a firm shot, but it was blocked by Miquel on the line.
Arsenal finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute as Jenkinson worked some space on the right touchline and sent in a good cross for Henri Lansbury to fire at the near post. It was a classy finish, but Jenkinson deserves real praise for his tenacity and hard work in creating the chance.
That proved to be enough for the three points for Arsenal, who got their pre-season campaign off to a solid start with this victory.
* Look out for highlights on Arsenal Player from Sunday afternoon and post-match reaction from Monday.
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