Author Archives: Tim

About Tim

I'm the gaffer, I gaff things. I also make a lot of gaffs. Follow me on twitter @7amkickoff.

Wenger-Henry

Observations on Henry’s first 26 Arsenal goals

As I said in my piece yesterday, I sat down with a video of Thierry Henry’s first 26 Arsenal goals and took some notes. Now, these are just observations and some of you will disagree with them but that’s why I’m posting here: if you want to take 15-20 minutes of your life, watch this video, and give us YOUR observations, then please do. I will gladly amend my database with your notes (or you can do it, see the link below). Maybe if we do this once a week for two months we will have his complete record?

Anyway, here’s a snapshot of the data:

Notes-Henry

 

I already want to add venue and opposition! But I’ll leave that to one of my enterprising young readers. Here’s a link to the database, feel free to add what you want on your lunch break.

Here’s my take away from what I observed.

All totaled 18 of Henry’s 26 first season goals were assisted by teammates. That’s my count of assists. Notably, for example, I don’t count Bergkamp’s pass to Henry to score on Desailly in the Chelsea match (goal 25) because Henry still had a ton of work to do on his own before scoring.

There were also two long balls in the match against Sunderland (where Henry beats Bouldy, TWICE!) and I didn’t count them as assists. The first is absolutely not an assist in my book. I won’t even countenance an argument: Henry collects a hopeful punt and dribbles Bould into the corner, then take him inside, and beats him with a long rage shot. The second was Lee Dixon punting the ball up. Henry lets the ball bounce in front of him and instead of collecting the ball off the bounce, uses the bounce to beat Bouldy again. You might disagree with me on those two!

That means, by my tally, Overmars and Kanu had 4 assists each. Parlor had 3 assists. Petit, Silvinho and Vieira both had 2 assists each. And Tony Adams gets one assist, the first assist, for Henry’s first ever Arsenal goal.

Symbolically, I like that Adams was the man passing the ball to Henry for his first goal. One legend to another, passing the ball, passing the armband, passing on the traditions, and passing on the club. It really has to be an Adams assist, doesn’t it?

The other thing that amazes me about Henry’s first season is the number of goals he scored from outside the box, 4. That doesn’t seem like a lot but when you remember that these are very low percentage shots for a normal human (>3% across all shots) then it seems like a lot to me. Henry had 2 pens and 7 goals from Prime positions (inside the 6 yard box or just outside the 6 yard box, extending to the elf meter mark). The remaining goals were all scored from inside the 18 yard box.

I looked at the breakdown of Suarez’ goals for last season with Liverpool: 4 in the 6 yard box, 20 in the 18 yard box, 7 from downtown. Similar to Henry. Maybe that’s the measure of a great striker? How well they score from distance? I don’t know but I do know that it’s something I would love to look at for subsequent Henry seasons.

And finally, I have a “Y” whenever Henry took a pass and dribbled past someone to score. All totaled he had nine of those. He scored twice that season turning a man on his back. A move he would make famous with his goal against Manchester United. The fact that he did it three times in a year seems like evidence that it was something he practiced. Did he do that again after that season? I don’t remember (I should!).

Anyway, there is more there for you to look at, for example, the type of assists and whatnot but I have to run off to work.

Later today I’ll post a second article which is a follow-up on all the players Arsenal fans and the media wanted us to buy this summer. And tomorrow, we will publish Naveen’s Liverpool preview!

Look forward to your comments!

Qq

henry

Footballistically Speaking: he makes things happen

I had this bright idea yesterday. I wanted to take a look at all of Henry’s Arsenal goals and see if there were some common threads. Were they scored mostly from crosses? Was he played in neatly with deadly through balls? Did he score a lot from inside the box? You know, try to figure out what made Henry such a potent goalscorer.  I wanted to make a new observation, something that people hadn’t seen yet. So, I sat down last night with the intention of watching Thierry Henry’s goals objectively. And within minutes found myself lost in Henry’s magic. Instead of finding something new, I found something old, I was reminded of why I fell in love with Arsenal in the first place.

Watching just his first 30 goals, I was reminded of Henry’s boundless exuberance, the way he celebrated his first dozen or so Arsenal goals by running as fast as he could over to the Arsenal fans who loved him so, fists pumping, and screaming such a joyous release. I was reminded of his magical touch, the way he could take the ball at breakneck speed, freeze time with a touch, take another touch to move his marker just the inch he needed and slot past the quiescent David James. I was reminded of his speed and power, like when he took a pass from Dennis Bergkamp at the center circle, blazed past the two Chelsea defenders, then slowed down to let international teammate Marcel Desailly catch up with him, touched the ball around Desailly and shucked off Marcel’s bullish challenge before coolly opening his body and putting the ball into the net.

And, of course, I was reminded of Henry’s special genius, his blend of audacity and talent which was the wellspring from which he drew out that goal against Manchester United: backing into his defender, 25 yards from goal, in the midst of a month-long goal drought, he takes a simple pass, flicks it into the air, turns, and volleys it into the top corner. And that he did against the best team in the land. As Wenger so aptly put it the season before that fateful goal “(Henry) makes things happen”.henry

I meant to sit down and watch the game objectively but watching that video was like flipping through an old scrap book and seeing photos of a long-lost love.

It’s not at all a contradiction if I say that Vieira was my favorite player but Henry made me fall in love Arsenal. I felt a connection with Vieira’s personality or what I saw of myself in his style of play. But Henry stirred the imagination.

I came to football late in life. Discovered the game on my television one morning. And with no connection to any club in particular and no friends who were into the game, I had a completely blank slate to work with. I knew I had to pick a team, I just didn’t know which one.

I liked Arsenal right away. The way that the Highbury pitch was so close to the fans and the camera angles that were presented made it feel like I was at the game. And the players Arsenal had were exciting and unique. Every time Vieira made a tackle or placed that perfect pass forward I got out of my seat. But it was Henry who took that Vieira pass and made something magical out of it. It seemed like every time I watched Arsenal Henry scored a more and more extraordinary goal. As if ordinary goals were beneath him.

Watching Henry was a crash course in Arsenal: Arsenal have always done things their own way and here was this player who was converted from winger to forward, who played a stylish brand of football unlike anyone else in England, and who scored eye-watering goal after eye-watering goal. He was also soft spoken, intelligent, and classy. A rebel for the cause, playing beautiful football, and carrying it off with a touch of class. He was Arsenal.

And I’ll always be grateful to Henry for giving me Arsenal.

Qq

Arsenal draw Monaco, Wenger smokes, there is no news this week

Uhhhhnnn…

I slept in because I stayed up too late last night making up rap names and deciding if dogs can eat raisin bran and grape nuts. The answers to these mysteries are: Bigelow T (catchphrase, “you’ve been sacked by Bigelow T”), no, and yes. I also asked a dog if he wanted to go to Seaworld — you know, in that way people do with a dog where they are like “you wanna go outside? Huh? HUH? Go outside???” Except sub in “Seaworld.”

In Arsenal world, Arsenal drew Monaco which is weird and proof that these drawing are rigged because everyone knows we were supposed to play Bayern Munich. Immediately after the news was announced that Arsenal got Monaco, a Vine of Arsene Wenger smoking while at Monaco went Vineal.

I know Wenger will be happy to go back to Monaco and I know that Monaco represents a good chance for Arsenal to get through to the next round where they will THEN face Bayern Munich!

Other than discussing the CL draw, you do realize that there will be no news this week, right? That all news will be made up. That or it will be quotes from players and their agents about how they want to come to Arsenal. In that case, I will publish a few pieces from Les this week and I’m hoping one from Naveen. 

Until then, I’m going to find a couch at work and catch some zzzzzz.

Qq