Report & Highlights: SK Sturm Graz 0-3 Arsenal
A double from Samir Nasri and a goal from Henri Lansbury gave Arsenal acomfortable 3-0 win over Austrian side Sturm Graz at the UPC Arena.
French midfield maestro Nasri struck twice in the first half to put Arsenal in control before highly-rated youngster Henri Lansbury added a deserved gloss to the scoreline with a well-taken goal after the break.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger gave Marouane Chamakh his first start in Arsenal colours, the Moroccan having been introduced from the bench in the Gunners’ opening pre-season friendly against Barnet at the weekend.
Arsenal’s Starting XI & Subs
Nordtveit – Djourou – Vermaelen (c) – Traore
Wilshere – Frimpong – Nasri
Walcott – Chamakh – Arshavin
Subs: Szczesny (GK), Koscielny, Gibbs, Eastmond, Lansbury, Rosicky, Emmanuel-Thomas.
Fellow new signing Laurent Koscielny settled for a half-time introduction off the bench after having taken his bow in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Underhill, while the Gunners’ World Cup stars were given another night off, despite having joined up with the squad in Austria.
But it was Nasri who grabbed the attention of a decent-sized crowd at the ground formerly known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium with two first-half goals of some quality.
The Frenchman opened the scoring after 16 minutes, collecting a loose ball on the edge of the Sturm penalty area before taking a touch and firing low past goalkeeper Silvije Cavlina into the far corner.
He doubled the lead from a set-piece just before the break, getting the ball up and over the defensive wall to find the top corner with Cavlina nowhere near it.
At the other end, Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou enjoyed a relatively quiet half, although Imre Szabics did pose a latent danger, as Djourou nearly found out to his cost on 34 minutes. The former Hungary international played in Marvin Weinberger with a cute pass but Lukasz Fabianski was equal to his low drive.
Fabianski was replaced by fellow Pole Wojciech Szczesny as Wenger again rang the changes at the break. Having made 11 half-time substitutions at Barnet, he opted to make just seven this time, with Lansbury among the players entering the fray.
It took the 19-year-old just 12 minutes to make his mark on the game, after Jack Wilshere and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas had combined to fashion a shooting chance. The midfielder showed remarkable poise as he waited for the keeper to make his move first and then finished coolly into the back of the net.
Three-nil up and the result was never in any doubt, although Sturm has passed up an opportunity to get back into the game just before Lansbury struck. Half-time substitute Mario Haas should have bulged the back of the net when a cross found him unmarked around the penalty spot but his effort was weak and easily dealt with by Szczesny.
Arsenal fashioned a number of other chances as they dominated the second half, notably for Lansbury, who tested the keeper from outside the box on 59 minutes, Tomas Rosicky from a similar position on 72 and then Koscielny with a header from a corner eight minutes later.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, another half-time replacement, put in an impressive 45 minutes and laid on two further chances as time ran out, but neither Armand Traore nor Theo Walcott could capitalise.
Next Up: Arsene Wenger’s men continue their preparations for the new campaign with a match against SC Neusiedl 1919 on Tuesday.