Henry's last goal on Arsenal home turf?

Thierry Henry is walking through that door, fans

In the midst of a terrible run of form, having just been beating by a shot at the death, and under immense pressure from fans to turn around a storied franchise that had gone 14 years without a title the Boston Celtics’ young coach stood in front of the gathered press and uttered the following famous phrase:

Larry Bird is not coming through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door they’re going to be grey and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard working and going to improve.

Rick Pitino was right, to an extent, though I think he overestimated the value that Robert Parish in his prime would have added to that Celtics squad. But he was right that Bird couldn’t help that team on the floor by putting on his Chucks and shooting sweet threes from the corner – the Hick from French Lick has been retired for 9 years and was head coach of the Indiana Pacers.

But what if Bird had been in a state of semi-retirement for a few years? What if he was playing in Italy and still hitting jumpers with aplomb? Could he have walked through that door and helped that Celtics team?

Sadly, yes and just as sadly it looks like Thierry Henry could make the trip out of his semi-retirement in the MLS and walk through the door at Arsenal to help them through a rough patch.

The emotional side of me wants to see Theirry Henry come back to Arsenal if for no other reason than to get the 229th goal that the League took away from him in order to add to Scott Dann’s ignominious Own Goals tally. But the rational side of me says that if Arsenal need a striker, then they need one on more than just a loan basis.

Unless there is a major clearout of forwards in January, given the mass of attacking talent at Arsenal taking Henry back is an admission that the club needs a striker and has needed a striker for six months. If Arsenal can’t make it work with Podolski (who played CF for Koln his entire career) and Giroud as forwards flanked by Gervinho, Arshavin, Chamakh, Ox and Walcott then fans have every right to ask why Arsenal didn’t buy a striker in the summer.

But the caveat at the beginning of that paragraph stands. We know that Gervinho is off to the African Cup of Nations. Chamakh could be picked by Morocco or he could be moved and even if he’s not moved, he certainly isn’t being used at Arsenal. Meanwhile, given the way that he has been used Arshavin is almost certainly going to leave (at least on loan). And all it would take is the suspicion that he’s not giving 100% for Arsenal to be tempted to sell Walcott. I the perfect storm, that would mean Arsenal have just three forwards: Giroud, Podolski, and Ox.

Suddenly, Thierry Henry on loan is starting to make a little sense. His loan would bridge the gap left by Gervinho and Chamakh and he would also give Arsenal some options in terms of attacking talent off the bench. Anyone who doubts Henry’s quality, even at the age of eleventeen, has not watched him play lately and has somehow forgotten that he saved Arsenal from relegation out of the Champions League spots when he scored his 229th career goal in the final minute to earn Arsenal three points against Sunderland last season.

Taking Henry on loan, however, does not absolve Arsenal the responsibility to replace Arshavin and/or Walcott if they are moved in January. I am a firm believer that Arsenal need solid defensive wingers who can whip in crosses to Giroud and Podolski or break down fullbacks and create chaos in the opposition final third.

Taking Henry on loan is also an admission that the club need to and needed to buy better forwards. An admission that the purchases of this summer were just not good enough. That the club didn’t prepare well enough for the winter. Because, you see, none of the Arsenal forwards have suffered a major injury: that means that Gervinho and Chamakh leaving for the ACN (or their lack of ability) was entirely predictable; that Walcott and Arshavin’s form, ability, and contract situations were already known; and that Arsenal chose not to buy in spite of those known realities.

And that’s the hard truth for many Arsenal supporters. Arsenal spent a lot of money this summer but just haven’t gotten things right with the forwards. If they had, Theirry Henry would not be walking through that door, fans.


22 thoughts on “Thierry Henry is walking through that door, fans

  1. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    Arsenal didn’t spend a penny in the summer. I think we made money again. And it looks as though we’re willing to gamble with Thierry’s legacy (“why couldn’t you score any 1-1s vs. Valdes, you had 3?!!”) to save a buck. As is our way here at KSE FC. On the flipside, Chelsea, a club whose owner only cares about winning and who burns money in a vulgar fashion, look to be trying the same thing with Drogba. So we’re covered! they’re doing it too! I’m sure this was a consideration Gazidis took to heart before this announcement was allowed to occur: see, winning clubs do this sort of thing as well!

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

      Wow. I knew people were calling Santi a steal, but I didn’t realize that we LITERALLY stole him. I mean… since we didn’t apparently pay for him. Or Podolski. Or Giroud.

      (I know you meant NET spend… but I still had to say it.)

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        55m + 39m

        That is way more than the likes of Swansea and West Brom put together yet look where we are?

        I would suggest to you that spending is not the solution or problem. It is retention (particularly experience) that is a key problem.

  2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +111cannons

    Agree. It’s also well known that strikers arriving from other leagues don’t exactly hit the ground running, so counting on Podolski and Giroud to solve the problem was short-sighted, as is the constant over-reliance on a very small number of players. Even if they did adapt quickly you cannot expect them to play every single game.

    Above all of that though, I would take Henry on loan even if he didn’t play a minute [although the media shitstorm THAT would inspire would be utterly disgusting] because we need him in the dressing room. If, as you have proposed recently, that this team is not playing for the manager [and I tend to agree there too] maybe they’ll play a little harder with the guy around with a statue outside the ground who took everyone’s breath away in the red and white for years on end. He’ll let them what the shirt means to him and no mistake. I really believe his presence in the team inspired the fightback last season and we need that even more this time around.

    That Wenger has openly admitted to looking at getting 2 players and saying we have money, and not ‘we only look for super quality’ or ‘you don’t get good value in January’ is already a good sign, but even if those 2 players are strikers I’d still want Henry in there too.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      We don’t have to sign him to have him in the dressing room. He is training with us on his own accord, he is mingling with the players and is there every match day That’s more than enough to make his presence felt.

      Ultimately, we need to stop papering over the cracks and get players for the long term. Bring in someone now who will make his adjustment period in the second half of the season and who will be off to a flying start next Summer.

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    You are dead on target with this. This is an admission from the Manager that we are weak in attack. I am hoping the addition of Henry would be more psychological than anything. He takes immense pride in putting on the red & white jersey and that kind of pride gives you an edge when you play. At this level, the mental part of the game is very important and I think Henry can provide that and perhaps more significantly, pass that on to others. At the very least, if the club doesn’t buy a winger and a defensive midfielder then all this is just a massive waste of time. What scares me is that we were in a very similar situation last year and were crying out for a back up to RVP but we only got Henry on loan. It was a gamble that, for once, didn’t come back to haunt us as RVP stayed fit all season despite playing in almost every minute of every game. We simply can’t take that same risk again. I’m not so confident that we will see a couple more quality players come in. Somebody please tell me everything will turn out fine. Jesus… this must be what slow death feels like.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    “Taking Henry on loan is also an admission that the club need to and needed to buy better forwards. An admission that the purchases of this summer were just not good enough.”

    I agree with you Tim. But you see, no, Wenger won’t call it like that. Like you said, he’ll just say he was cover for Gervinho and Chamakh at ACN. No admission of need necessary.

    We need players. We need those wingers. I’m not sure I can think of any, so I’d be happy with a Demba Ba, to be honest. Ideally a Demba Ba AND a winger. And a Fellaini, to play wherever we need him to in midfield. And… well I’ll stop myself there.

    PS if we do sign Zaha, for me that doesn’t count. He’d be one for the future. Plus, he’s worryingly Gervinho-esque in his movement (at least on Youtube).

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      I would love Demba Ba.
      Thing is, the signing of someone like Ba (or Huntelaar) also would raise more questions than it answers. Where does such a player fit into this team? Would Wenger drop Giroud to play him up top? Would he countenance starting with a 4-4-2 to fit both together? It’s unlikely, although things are getting desperate enough that he might try something different.

      Signing another central striker would also make it a dead cert that Walcott is gone. He may be anyway, but if he is still swayable based on whether he gets a chance to play up top, then this would change his mind.

      My wishlist (in order of need):

      Etienne Capoue
      Ba or Huntelaar
      Wilfred Zaha
      A keeper – ideally al-Habsi or Vorm, but more realistically, Shay Given.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        I’m not sure about Huntelaar unless price is too good to resist (rumour was 6m?). He’s 29. Really prefer someone younger and preferably someone more technical to Giroud’s directness.

        My pref is Leandro @23 and 6’2, good with his feet but also excellent in the air and quick. Price is the issue but as I have mention, I really think (and I’m sure Tim will agree) we need to adjust our maximum to low 20m mark to keep up with market a little.

        Zaha. Dunno. Seems hyped up and as good as he may be in championship, it will be a step up and necessary adjustment time. Besides, we already have too many young players developing on the wings in Chamberlain, Ryo, Gnabry, all quick direct and pacy.

        What I do think we could benefit from is some inventiveness form out wideto match (supplement) Santi and in view of Arsharvin being sold.

        My pref is for someone like Konoplyanka (Dnipro) who is likely about the same price as Zaha but far more technical and crucially @23, coming into his peak years. I don’t believe he is cup tied.

        I don’t see a keeper. Not till summer but you never know.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1TheGunners...AhTheGunners

        At 12-14m I wonder if Wenger would pay for Zaha. He paid that much for the Ox. Zaha is the more Wengerish option – a lanky speedy player with good dribbling skills who can play any of the front three positions. I would put money on us landing Zaha, and sending a phalanx of players to Crystal Palace along with the cash to help them with their promotion fight.

        Then I like the idea of a Walcott + cash-Reina swap if Liverpool would go for that. If Walcott goes then we need pace in replacement, hence Zaha makes sense again.

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    I have come to have huge respect for Larry Bird since, but when I was kid and a 76ers fan, I used to cringe when Bird would do his fadeaway jump shot and then look away, as in “I don’t even have to see it go in. 2 points, thank you very much.” Arrgh!

    Bird could probably help the Celtics NOW, as Henry can help us, no doubt. I don’t care the circumstances, to me he will always, ALWAYS be a welcome sight in an Arsenal kit.

    His contributions are sure to be more qualitative then quantitative, but no less real or without potential for all that.

    Our problems are now way beyond the ability of an aging legend to fix but he is one of the few athletes still playing like Roger Federer who has transcended the sport. His presence will bring value in whatever form.

    Time to save up for yet another Henry shirt.

    Vive Henry, Vive Arsenal!

  6. +5 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    I think back to the Henry era at Highbury when we built the team around him and the almost telepathic connection he used to have with Bergkamp and Pires. It honestly didn’t matter what the opposition did – their presence was to showcase the most spectacular football ever played in England.

    What a time!

    Everyone’s criticizing Wenger now including me, but thank you, thank you, thank you M. Wenger for that glorious period.

  7. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    We do a lot of bitching here about the lack of loyalty displayed by the current generation of players, and deservedly so. But every now and then it’s good to be reminded that that particular sword occasionally cuts both ways. Need, or no need, if Henry wishes to do us the honour of pulling on our colours one more time, then the jersey is his. We owe him every bit as much as he has ever owed us.

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Several things :

    1) Better to have him available than not. In the event we don’t find any ‘value’ in the market, we have Henry as a fall back plan.

    2) Because it is ‘unofficially’ announced, we are using interest in including him this January as leverage for our negotiations on possible additions up front.

    3) As mentioned by Tim, worthwhile influence in the dressing room and that added voice of experience/wisdom that links us to our past success. Not that it helped with convincing a certain Dutch man to re-sign of course.

    January not nominally a good time to find a good bargain, a reasonable move just in case.

    Meanwhile, we have got to get to January first.

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Before Henry can wave his magic wand…before our new 30 Mn Striker can win the fans…Before the midfield can accommodate its new defensive enforcer ..we have a bridge to cross…

    That is wining the next 7 “winnable” fixtures until 1st of January.
    WBA(H) BRF (A,Cup) RDG (A) WIG (A) WHM (H) NEW (H) SOT (A)
    These games are coming thick and fast and in a span of 25 days.. We have exactly the same bunch of players to do that…

    Winning 7 fixtures in a row has not happened for a long time for Arsenal…(not in the last three seasons) But I dont think any other team has such an easier run of 7 fixtures this Christmas season…

    If we get our mojo on it..and get 18 PL points + a Cup Semifinal berth, Chances are almost certain that we will be sitting pretty in Top 4…if not Top 3..and fans truly backing the team..

    With that kind of a platform and any reinforcements arriving in January (like a 90 Minute playing Diaby, A legend, A Walcott replacement and Squillaci Part 2), we should be able to get the fans begging for Wenger to sign a new contract before summer…

    At this point of time everything looks wishful thinking..but the illusion of the closeness of it being to reality is what is killing…!!!

    Henry can walk through the door for sure…but it would be nice if that doesn’t look like an act of desperation to lift the fans up…!!! The Sunderland mention does give goosebumps..

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Michigangunner

    Who comes in does not matter. How much we spend does not matter. Wenger’s luck has run out, yes I am beginning to attribute some of his successes to luck. He has lost his mojo. We will not win with him!!!

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