Thierry Henry added another unforgettable moment to his legendary Arsenal career as he scored the winner to rescue mentor Wenger from what was heading towards an embarrassing result.
With his new teammates struggling to break down a well-organised but otherwise ordinary Leeds side, Henry rose from the bench to rapturous applause in the 72nd minute and provided the touch of class nobody else on the pitch possessed when he controlled Song’s astute pass with one touch and swept the ball home with another in typical Henry style.
Fact — It had taken Henry 10 minutes to do what Chamakh has failed to do in his last 10 games.
His reaction was joyous as the bearded legend ran to hug Wenger, pumping his fists and cheering ecstatically. It was the kind of fairytale return we’d all hoped for, but as much as I’d like to spend the rest of this article celebrating the triumphant return of my (and probably everyone else’s) favourite ever player, his success only serves to prove what a fragile, impotent squad we have when van Persie is missing.
Get in you absolute legend
Half of me is delighted at the romantic ending to the game, a moment that will be talked about for years to come. The sensible half, however, is concerned that a 34 year old loanee from the MLS improved our team immeasurably, demonstrating more composure and class than the rest of the players put together.
Yes he may be a legendary 34 year old, but should we really be counting on Henry to break down a lower league defence?
To say he showed Chamakh how it’s done is an understatement. The Moroccan had another wretched night and it’s come to something when I’m glad our second choice striker is buggering off to Africa where he can be shit for another team instead of us.
Which brings us onto the third choice striker, Park. He didn’t even get a game! Quite astonishingly, Wenger didn’t play him last night or in the recent dead rubber against Olympiacos. How badly must Wenger rate him?! It says a lot that he has never come off the bench for us — obviously Wenger doesn’t trust him and you have to wonder if we truly knew who we were signing when we
hit the panic button made our last-minute move for him on deadline day.
Of the other attacking players, Arshavin wasted lots of good chances but at least he worked hard. He ran his socks off and got clattered a few times by some ‘robust’ Leeds challenges. He’s only scored twice all season though and really needs to be hitting the net more.
On the opposite flank Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a chance ahead of Walcott and showed plenty of promise. He produced a good shot to force Leeds keeper Lonergan into one of the only two saves he needed to make all game (the other being from a clever Arteta effort) but he still has a lot to learn and isn’t ready to be a regular starter yet.
In the middle of the park Ramsey did really well, linking up play nicely and getting a few shots away. But again, his shooting was off target. He will get there and I’d bet on him hitting double figures next season if he steers clear of injury, but right now he’s not a regular goalscorer and that only increases the burden on van Persie.
At the other end of the pitch Szczesny had little to do but was alert to parry a late shot from Forssell as Leeds went close to stealing a draw. The defence were also under-employed but it wouldn’t be an Arsenal match without losing a defender and Coquelin drew the short straw when his hammy snapped. 18 year old Nico Yennaris replaced him and we’re now looking at Miquel and Djourou playing full back against Swansea on Sunday.
So Henry stole the show and hopefully provided a boost to the team, which laboured badly for 80 minutes and will need to improve drastically on Sunday. At least van the man will be back, but for now let’s forget about the cracks Thierry papered over and enjoy the night he returned to the club he loves and added another glorious chapter to his legacy.
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