A strange day: Arsenal win a trophy & Gervinho scores

Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup

ARSENAL 1 – 0 ANDERLECHT
Video highlights: Henri Lansbury ’34

ARSENAL 1 – 1 SOUTHAMPTON
Video highlights: Jay Rodriguez ’31; Gervinho ’35

I suspect in your head, when you pictured the next man to raise a cup aloft and end our trophy drought, you never for a moment believed that man would be Johan Djourou.  However, Arsenal are Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup Champions.  Perhaps we should take that, and our Emirates Cup victories of 2007, 2009 and 2010 and use it to plug the gaping void after ‘FA Cup 2005′ in the roll-call of silverware that lines the interior of the Emirates Stadium.

Obviously, in real terms, our victory in a friendly competition where we didn’t even play a full ninety minutes against a single opponent doesn’t mean all that much.  But if winning is a habit, then this could one day prove to be a helpful step in the right direction for the many kids involved yesterday.

The side that took to the field in the first 45 against Anderlecht was:

Martinez – Jenkinson Boateng Miquel Gibbs (c) – Yennaris Eastmond Lansbury – Eisfeld Chamakh Watt

Arsenal won the game thanks to a solitary goal, which showed off the qualities of both Carl Jenkinson and Henri Lansbury.  Jenkinson showed good tenacity to drive to the byline, and then demonstrated why I’ve long insisted he’s the best crosser at the club with a devilish ball which Lansbury arrived to thump home.  Whenever he’s played for the first team, Henri has shown a knack for arriving in the box at the crucial point, and this was no different.  Personally, I hope he gets a long overdue chance in the first-team this season.  His loan spell at West Ham was something of a disappoint, but a player with his style was never going to be the first name on the teamsheet in a Sam Allardyce side.  We could do a lot worse than to keep him involved in 2012/13.

In the second game we had a more experienced side on the field:

Mannone – Eastmond Djourou (c) Bartley Meade – Coquelin Lansbury Ebicilio – Santos Gervinho Aneke

Arsenal fell behind as Jay Rodriguez made himself an instant hero with the Saints fans by nodding home on his first appearance at St. Mary’s.  It was a good cross but new assistant Steve Bould won’t be happy about how easily Rodriguez rose between our two centre-backs.  With the games lasting only 45 minutes, there wasn’t much time to level, but Gervinho managed it with a corker.  He sprinted to the byline and cut back inside before firing past the keeper.  The confidence with which he took his goal was almost as surreal a sight as Djourou raising a trophy.  Gervinho has duped us with these pre-season antics before, netting twice on his first appearance in a friendly last season, but hopefully this is an early sign that he may have a more successful second season than his first.  A quick glance at the video reveals that our supposed left-back, Andre Santos, was in the six yard box.  A poacher’s instinct from the tubby Brazilian.

The game went to penalties, and Southampton emerged victorious, but it didn’t matter: the trophy was already ours.

So, Arsenal are back.  Next week the remainder of the squad will return to training before we fly to Malaysia in around a week’s time.  Something tells me the coming days will tell us a lot about the make-up of our squad for next season.

Friendly Fun + Grimandi’s Confession

Incredibly, Arsenal are already back in action.  As far as I’m aware we’re the first Premier League side to play any kind of friendly this summer.  And if that weren’t enough, we don’t just face off against one side today, but two: after 45 minutes against Anderlecht, we will play a further 45 against hosts and top flight newcomers Southampton.

It’ll be a very unfamiliar Arsenal side.  First-teamers Gervinho, Chamakh, Djourou, Santos and Gibbs are all included, as well as the likes of Coquelin, Bartley, Lansbury and Mannone.  The rest of the squad will be made up with youth-team players.

It’s possible triallist M’Baye Niang will be given a run out.  If you don’t know too much about Caen’s teenage forward, you can read French Football Weekly’s profile of him here.  Caen have confirmed that Niang is on trial at Arsenal with their permission, and as yet no bids for him have been received, despite reported interest from Francophiles Newcastle.

Arsenal.com aren’t showing the match live but will be tweeting updates @Arsenal.  If I can get a stream working I’ll try and do some stuff over on @Gunnerblog too, but it may be I have to wait to see highlights on the Sunday.  It’ll be a fairly low-key affair: Arsenal don’t play another friendly for 10 days, and presumably we will use the opportunity mainly to help these players build their stamina.

Presumably when we face Southampton we might get a glimpse of our new away kit in action.  The purple and black hoops have received a bit of stick from some fans.  I have to confess I’m not really too bothered about what our kits look like: my attitude towards them is defined more by the results we achieve in them.  If we win something in that kit, I’ll love it, pure and simple.

Of course, winning anything at all is going to be tricky, what with our star players wanting to leave all the time.  In this recent interview, scout Gilles Grimandi as good as admitted that Olivier Giroud was bought with half an eye on Robin van Persie’s potential exit:

“Was the recruitment of Olivier Giroud made ​​to compensate for his departure? Yes, we work to avoid being cornered. But we do everything to keep him [Van Persie] and we want him to stay.

If there’s a great offer and if he wants to leave and it will be difficult to keep him.”

The pressure on new boy Giroud grows daily.  If Van Persie leaves – and in my opinion that is by far the most likely outcome here – the burden the Frenchman will have to shoulder will be immense.  And as each day goes by without news on Theo Walcott’s contract, that situation gets more perplexing too.

It’s going to be another one of those summers…