Read on for a tournament summary and video highlights...
A youthful Arsenal side have just done what they were supposed to do—go down to the south coast and get some useful match practice to further their preseason preparations. All you non-Gooners were expecting me to start crowing about "winning a trophy," weren't you?
Sorry, cynics. I'm going to have to disappoint you. Yes, we did win the Markus Liebherr Cup—no harm done by that—but more importantly, several of our first- and youth-team players got a really good run-out.
The three-team round-robin tournament featuring Anderlecht, Arsenal and hosts, Southampton, awarded three points for a win and none for a loss in normal time. A drawn game would be decided by penalties, with the winner getting two points and the loser, one.
The tournament commenced with Anderlecht defeating the hosts 1-0, de Sutter scoring the only goal of the game in the 15th minute.
Arsenal then took on Anderlecht. Kieran Gibbs wore the captain's armband, a fair indicator of how young the team was. The Gunners prevailed by a goal to nil, Henri Lansbury finishing well at the near post after excellent work on the right by Carl Jenkinson, who again showed his abilities going forward.
Arsenal and Anderlecht were tied on three points each heading into the final game, and a point would be enough to secure the trophy for the Gunners. However, that was never the primary goal for this day, and Arsenal would have been disappointed to have fallen behind to Jay Rodriguez's 31st-minute goal. It was all too easy for Southampton, as their left-back was given time to pick out a cross, and Rodriguez was barely disturbed as he rose highest to flick home his header.
However, Arsenal responded nine minutes later, and in some style. Gervinho was played down the left by a well-weighted ball from Andre Santos. He had some work to do, but he did it well, beating a couple of defenders and firing past the Saints keeper. Arsenal fans should bear in mind that this is a player who had 18 goals and 11 assists in his last season at Lille. A similarly productive season for Arsenal would work a charm.
The match finished 1-1, meaning Arsenal could not be denied the trophy. Unfortunately, they lost the penalty shootout 5-4. Santos, Coquelin, Olsson and Eastmond all found the net for the Gunners, but Kyle Ebecilio missed the decisive fifth kick to hand the shootout to the hosts.
So, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou lifted the trophy, which was the best we could have hoped for, but more than that, it was a useful run-out for the likes of Lansbury, Gervinho, Santos, Gibbs and Coquelin.
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