By David Lynch
There is an undeniable feeling of 'now or never' for Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury following his goal in Saturday’s friendly win over Anderlecht.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has previously hailed the 21-year-old’s ability to “smell when [he] has to be in the box”, and he evidenced this brilliantly against the Belgian side as he tapped Carl Jenkinson’s cross home to secure victory.
Of course the Frenchman knows plenty about Lansbury’s other qualities – his work-rate, commendable attitude, and eye for a pass – but he is the one who must decide on the most important factor of all: whether he is ready for first-team action this season.
It is now over four-and-a-half years since the Enfield-born midfielder made his debut for the north London side as a substitute in a League Cup tie against Sheffield United. During that time, Lansbury has seen the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere establish themselves as regulars at the Emirates, despite both being younger than him.
|LANSBURY SECURES GUNNERS WIN
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At the start of the 2010-11 season, Lansbury then scored his first goal for the club in, of all games, a north London derby victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the League Cup. Many Gunners fans were predictably baffled by the subsequent decision to loan him to Norwich City, as Denilson toiled in a midfield lacking the steel which the Englishman provides. But the Arsenal youth product continued to impress, scoring four times in 23 Championship appearances as Paul Lambert's men gained promotion to the Premier League.
His time with West Ham last season was perhaps his least fruitful on loan thus far, as he made just 13 league starts under Sam Allardyce despite having scored on his debut. Bizarrely, his most notable contribution came as a substitute for goalkeeper Rob Green following his sending-off against Blackpool, as he kept a personal clean sheet in a 4-1 win for the east London side.
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It is that sort of resilience which he must show if he is to emulate the former England midfielder at the Emirates, but whether Wenger will give him the chance to do so is another matter entirely.
After nearly half a decade's toil, you can't say that he doesn't deserve it.
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