January 7, 2012
Yesterday, finally, the deal to bring Thierry Henry back to the club for a two month loan spell was completed and we can stop talking about what it might be like to see Henry back in an Arsenal shirt and start witnessing it. He’s eligible for the Leeds game on Monday and according to the boss, he will play.
It’s exciting. I don’t know whether we’ll be pleased or disappointed as I don’t know what he’s capable of these days but either way it makes that Leeds game a must see. Over the past couple of weeks the official line has been all about managing expectations and the man himself continued the theme yesterday:
I always said I was never going to come back and play in Europe again but, when the team you love and support asks you back, it’s kind of hard to say ‘no’.
I am not coming here to be a hero or prove anything. I am just coming here to help. People have to understand that.
I’ll be on the bench most of the time – if I can make the bench, that is.
Even if it is just five seconds, one second, or just talking in the dressing room, I will give my best whatever it is.
I don’t think anyone expects him to be the player that lit up the Premier League in the last decade. He won’t have that blistering pace that so terrified every defence that stood in his way. But fortunately he wasn’t just about pace. He was about intelligence – in his movement, in the timing of his runs, in his awareness of what was around him – and he was about finishing. The man could find the corner of the net like no one I ever saw. He made scoring goals look like the easiest thing in the world. You just pass the ball into the corner of the net, right? Anyone could do that.
Still, with the advancing years he admits that his game has had to change:
I am not 25 anymore, I am not going to take the ball from the middle of the park and dribble past five or six players. I remember Dennis [Bergkamp] and he used to be the main front guy. Suddenly he was playing behind the striker and if you have the awareness to see things before other players, you can get away with not having your legs.
If you look at Ryan Giggs, it’s not the same Ryan Giggs who used to take the ball from the wing or from Denis Irwin and dribble past everyone and deliver a great cross.
But what Ryan Giggs has is that he can see the game, he is always available, he puts himself in a position where he can receive the ball alone – then you will never lose your touch. That’s what I am going to try to bring to this team if I ever have to play.
Magnificent as he was for Arsenal throughout his time here, my memories of him are slightly tainted by his attitude in his final season at the club. Frustrated by the performances of players around him, notably Jose Antonio Reyes, he had a tendency to glare at them for failing to find a pass or missing a decent opportunity. You got the impression that as the Invincibles were broken up, certain players struggled to live up to the legacy and Henry at times didn’t help with that.
That’s something that I don’t expect to be a problem this time around. He comes into the squad not as its leader and captain but as an outsider and he seems determined to do whatever he can to help out. And Wenger seemed to suggest that Henry has matured enough that the demoralising stare would not be rearing its head:
He is like everyone who develops in life, he is more open to people now. When you are a young striker you are more focused on yourself and today, what he can give to others is of a higher level than he could do five or six years ago.
Normally, if you have a good evolution in life, that is what we should all tend to. He did that very well. When you are a young striker you have more pressure, you have to force on yourself because you feel the pressure. Thierry is in a position where he has done it all and is under less pressure than five or six years ago.
But as I said, thankfully the time for talking about it is over. Soon we’ll all see for ourselves what the 2012 model Titi is all about.
Back on the subject of who, if anyone, might be joining Henry in the squad and the boss has confirmed that he’s on the hunt for a left back to bring in on loan until the end of the season. No word on who that might be but good to know the problem is likely to be addressed. The sooner that can be done the better as we’ll be struggling to fill the position with Djourou suspended and Vermaelen out until after Swansea.
Meanwhile the Twittersphere has been alive with the sound of people claiming that Arsenal are keen on Anderlecht’s Argentine striker slash winger Matias Suarez. The word is we’ve made a 10 million Euro bid for the 23 year old who’s scored 11 goals in 24 matches this season and is currently the top scorer in the Europa league. He’s clearly looking to leave Anderlecht:
I do dream of a big transfer, but for now it seems quiet. There are two clubs interested, but if it does not happen this winter – so be it and I will then do everything to make Anderlecht champions.
There have been rumours of Arsenal sending scouts to watch him for some time now and he does sound like a fairly Wengeresque signing – young and relatively unknown. Plus, like everybody in the world, he looks amazing on YouTube, so if you fancy a bit of transfer porn to get you through the day, why not pop along here?
I’ll leave you to it.
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