With only insurance left to sort out, it seems that Thierry Henry will once again be an Arsenal player, if only for seven games. This Gunner isn't having it...
“Yes”, Arsene Wenger said emphatically when asked whether Thierry Henry had what it takes to handle England’s top flight. When questioned further on whether Henry, 34, could join Landon Donovan (who has signed on loan for Everton) between American fixtures Wenger said:
“I haven’t even investigated that. I cannot tell you even if there is a chance because I haven’t even made any approach, not to him nor his club. I do not always master all my thoughts so it has to come through my brain at some stage but I haven’t been concrete on the case.”
This somewhat ambiguous answer which has led to the rumour and speculation mill going into overdrive. Will he? Won’t he? Could he? Couldn’t he?
Despite the obvious comparisons between the quality of the MLS and Premier League, on the face of it I see little reason to disagree with Wenger who has had the advantage of watching Henry train at London Colney over the past few weeks and is far better placed than any armchair observer to decide whether he could ‘do a job’. It should be pointed out though that Henry netted 14 times last season in the MLS, the second highest in the league - so he has clearly still got it.
For a club as conservative as ours to erect a statue of Henry taunting the sh*t out of Sp*rs fans is quite frankly the best thing ever.
There is no denying that Arsenal need to strengthen the squad up top. It would be foolish to depend solely on Robin Van-Persie who is in the form of his life but also susceptible to injury. Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho are off to the ACN and Park has yet to start a Premier League match. Internal options are also limited, Arshavin isn’t the player he once was and Wenger has a reluctance to play Walcott through the middle. There is also little merit bringing back any players on loan - Carlos Vela, Nicklas Bendtner and Joel Campbell have either had too many chances or not enough.
For fans longing for the return of Henry, I would point out that there are numerous obstacles to overcome. He might not want to jeopardise his legacy, or more importantly his hamstrings with a winter slog - and there are the usual financial complications to take into account.
Interestingly when pushed further on his plans for the January window, Wenger skirted around the subject of the French striker:
“I don’t know yet. That was an honest answer,” Wenger said. “You want to speak of Thierry Henry and I can understand that but at the moment he just practises with us.”
I suspect that in actual fact Wenger was maintaining politeness about Arsenal’s record goalscorer. The connection between Teary Henry and the club was evidenced after an emotional unveiling of a statue at the Emirates Stadium and it could be said the statue was merely receiving it’s first polish from Wenger’s tongue during this press conference.
Since leaving Arsenal Henry has openly admitted that during his twilight years at the club his presence was more of a hindrance than a help.
Despite Arsenal’s problems being short-term, they are not going to fixed by any short-term pleasure from nostalgia. For a club as conservative as ours to erect a statue of Henry taunting the sh*t out of Sp*rs fans is quite frankly the best thing ever. We don’t need any more memories.
Silvestre and Campbell are two excellent examples of recent stop-gap signings that did little to improve the overall quality of the team. Arsenal’s problems were overcome by signing players with a future to look forward to together: Vermaelen, Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Henry would only plug the gap against Fulham, Swansea City, Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers.
By all accounts, despite his reduced pace he still plays the way he always did, starting his runs from deep and preferring another striker in front of him. That doesn’t fit with Arsenal’s current 4, 5, 1 system which is another reason why the benefit of his presence should remain on the training ground. I also can’t help but feel the real area we need to strengthen is at full-back and Henry’s presence is only a distraction from the more serious problem which was reason for conceding recent goals against City and Villa.
There is also a question about his effect on the dynamic within the squad. It is true to say that during their time together at the club Van Persie and Henry didn’t always see eye to eye. Talking about Van Persie Henry recently said:
“I saw him come in here and at the very beginning he wasn’t the easiest guy to deal with, like I wasn’t I guess. But it’s amazing to see how he has improved. That tells you how intelligent a player he is.”
Robin, growing up playing in the cages of Rotterdam, wasn’t fazed at all by Thierry’s eternal stare of damnation - the one that turned Jose Antonio Reyes from a player who looked like he could have been an all time great into a bloke who plays sporadically for Atletico Madrid and hasn’t scored since May. Since leaving Arsenal Henry has openly admitted that during his twilight years at the club his presence was more of a hindrance than a help.
We need to look long-term. Forward.
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