Thierry Henry: The Assassin…
Since Henry’s return from injury Arsenal have been simply devastating. Arsenal’s form before the new year without the captain was inconsistent but since the turn of the year we have been ruthless and more clinical in front of goal. Wins against Charlton, Liverpool, Blackburn and Manchester United have been impressive and shown what we’ve been missing with a fit Thierry Henry.
A common problem with Arsenal is that they have been accused of creating many chances but failing to take them but 2007 has seen Arsenal be brutal when presented with an opportunity. Scoring 4 goals against Charlton started the run and the way Arsenal disposed of Liverpool at Anfield was sensational. Even with 10 men at Blackburn Arsenal had few chances but still managed to come out comfortable winners with goals from Kolo and Henry. Even against Manchester United, Van Der Sar had very little to do for most of the game but when Arsenal had chances they took them.
To many times Arsenal have dominated play, had numerous attempts at goal and then been hit with a sucker punch from the oppositions only shot on target!
Hopefully the more clinical Arsenal is something we’ll be seeing more of this season.
Despite Thierry Henry scoring 4 goals in 4 games this month, and making countless others he has been critised for being quiet in games – and even been accused of being anonymous!
While this could be construed as true, you have to realise that Henry is not 26 anymore. He’s 29 going on 30 and he has adapted his game to the new team around him. While in the Vieira-era he would link up with Pires and Cole down the left handside and kill teams within the first 20 minutes he now takes a more measured approach to the game.
The young, energetic and hungry team around him will always run for the cause and this is when Henry’s experience and intelligence really shine through.
He thinks about what he is going to do and when he is ready will execute it to perfection.
Look at the goals against Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. Two very different types of goals but Henry effectively killed both matches with those well timed attacks and as a result we are on a winning streak.
Against most teams we play against Henry is more that capable of running around sides causing all sorts of problems and he still does – but against teams like Manchester United and Liverpool (and when we are under pressure like against Blackburn Rovers) where chances are few and far between he will strike when the right opportunity arises.
What does this mean for Arsenal?
Well the New Year Henry has made Arsenal a better team than last year, with the Gunners doing marginly better than the last campaign and thanks to the January run still have an outside chance of doing some damage at the top of the league.
But the most optimistic aspect of this new team (that has looked like it has finally settled) is that next season Arsenal are going to be a real force in the league next season and beyond.
Regarding this season – yes, we are 12 points off Manchester United and people will point to the fact that they will have to lose 4 games and Arsenal will have to win all of their remaining fixtures but with the FA Cup and Champions League run it will be interested how United cope with travelling to Stamford Bridge and Anfield in between. Of course, it’s all speculation but I’ve seen worse collapses in the Premiership before – and several players like Ronaldo, Carrick, Saha, et al haven’t been under pressure of being so close to the title before. Better players have cracked under the heat of being top so I’m expecting a great finish to this season!
Chelsea look in trouble but do they have a reserve side? I mean surely in their ranks they have a reserve centre-back somewhere? And I’m not even going to talk about how stupid it is after spending Â£1,234,372 gazillion* in the transfer market (including Â£21 million on SWP and Â£32 million for Shevchenko) they can’t afford a central defender!
They did get Cashley Cole for Williams Gallas and Â£5 million – I wonder which team got the better deal there then?
There’s not doubt that ‘The Special One’ is a good manager when things are going well but you’re only really tested when things aren’t going your way. Do you blame the board for not spending in January when you got rid of your only defensive cover for a money-grabbing left back you didn’t need? And when you arrive do you proclaim that you have 2 World Class players in each poisition and that’s all you need?
Claudio Ranieri got sacked for finishing second so Mourinho might be getting worried about Liverpool and Arsenal on his heels!
In football anything can happen and I personally think second place is up for grabs but could Thierry Henry be the man to push Arsenal onto something even better?
* Exact transfer expediture of Chelsea FC to the nearest pound.