Can Arsenal Keep Having Henry As Captain?

Is Henry The Man To Lead Arsenal’s Future?

It’s hard not to think about Arsenal’s fortunes this season. Currently 7th in the league, out of the FA Cup (which we always do well in), out of the Carling Cup (a final we actually wanted) but we are still in the final 16 of the Champions League.

And even though the Real Madrid game was amazing, and worth the trip out to the Bernabeu – there was still a sense of disappointment with the final result.

Watching the game and the amount of time on the ball Real Madrid allowed Arsenal, I couldn’t help think that the Arsenal of old would have exploited the space more than we did – and push on for a comfortable 3 or 4 goal win.

Except for the games against Boro at Pompy at home, Arsenal have lacked the cutting edge that we all knew Arsenal had. We all know traditionally Arsenal make loads of chances and miss many of them, but we still grab 2/3 goals in a typical game.

But the problem now is we cannot create those clear chances anymore.

Arsenal scored an amazing 87 goals last season, and 73 the season we were unbeaten. This season the gunners have scored 39 with only 11 games remaining.

Of course, we all know Bobby & Freddie have been very ineffective this season, and Robin Van Persie is our second top scorer behind Henry – and he’s been injured for parts of the season!

The injuries to major attacking forces like Bergkamp, Van Persie, Ashley Cole have been a problem, but despite that we’ve had Ljungberg, Pires, Reyes and the new Emmanuel Adebayor that should have done the business.

When Henry doesn’t score, then Arsenal don’t score.

The presence of Vieira has clearly been a problem this season, with Arsenal missing his fight, determination and ability to drive games forward. He was a brilliant captain and is an Arsenal legend.

But you can’t help feeling that Henry’s appointment as captain is just giving him a reason to stay at Arsenal, and is just hampering the team on the pitch.

I’m not going to question Henry’s commitment to the cause, because over the years he, along with Vieira has been a driving force in the team.

But the captaincy is not for him.

There is a major difference in Henry’s approach this season, and it is clear the captaincy is a burden that is effecting his performances on the pitch. Although he is obviously still one of the world’s best players, he simply is not the same as seasons gone by.

When Henry scores, his celebrations suggest he has the weight of the world on his shoulders – as if he knows that if he doesn’t score Arsenal won’t get a result.

Henry cannot lead the team and he should be left to do what he does best – scoring goals, creating opportunities and changing matches.

The problem now is that it’s almost impossible to pass the captaincy to anyone else while Henry is an Arsenal player.

What kind of message would it send out?

And who else could do the job? Lehmann is a possibility, and I think the responsibility would make him a more mature influence on the pitch. Campbell would have been another possible candidate, but his latest behaviour suggests he couldn’t handle it. Ashley Cole’s mind is at another club and although Fabregas would be a good captain in a few years it’s far too early for him at the moment.

The only other real candidates in the squad are Lauren and Toure, who both would do a decent job.

As it is apparent that Arsenal’s other major problem is in the middle of the park since Vieira’s departure, I would like to see Toure or Lauren lead the team from central midfield. After all, not so long ago Kolo and Lauren played there for their International teams, and are comfortable in that position. Both a good ball winners, have pace and have an eye for a pass.

With the rapid and impressive development of Eboue at right back, Arsene should really consider putting our number 12 in the centre – it’s not that crazy an idea!

Fabregas likes going forward and playing that final ball and with solid players like Diaby and Lauren next to him, he would have the freedom to do just that.

But Arsene will stick with his ‘experienced’ players, which include Campbell and Gilberto.

Everything Rests On March 8th 2006? Probably…

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of…?

After the Real Madrid game, every Arsenal fan realised how big a result it was. Yes, Real weren’t at their best – but that was partly down to our excellent performance and determination.

Who would have given Arsenal a chance at the Bernabeu?

Wenger instilled some real belief into the team and it paid divedends. Amazingly, Arsenal now have shorter odds than Real Madrid and Chelsea – something no-one could have predicted last week.

But then Arsenal travelled to Rovers, and it was the same old story…

It’s hard to be critical of a team that produced a brilliant performance at a place no other English team has ever won, and you sort of knew that the Blackburn game was going to be a little flat.

Arsenal’s away form is terrible this season, and we already have 8 defeats on the road.

And we currently sit in 7th position, behind the two teams that we can’t seem to beat – Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers.

Even the most optimistic gooner is resigned to the fact that 4th place has become a fading possibility. Our away from has been disgraceful, and there are no signs that it will improve any time soon.

Can Arsenal completely turn it around and start winning away games when they’ve been struggling with them all season?

It’s not as if Arsene hasn’t been trying.

The Frenchman has tried different formations and different players but nothing is working.

The problem is that every Premiership team knows how to play Arsenal at home. Just keep 2 banks of 4 behind the ball and play deep.

Exactly what Arsenal did to Real Madrid.

Like Real, Arsenal play all their football in front of teams, so no matter what formation or which players are on the field – it won’t make a difference.

So with the dire league form Arsenal’s game against Real Madrid is bigger than ever…