Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Difference Between Good and Great - The Return of Thierry Henry

I wrote in the blog just before Christmas that I was broadly in favour of Thierry's return when it was just a rumour. If all he does is score one goal, then it's been worth it for a number of reasons.

Firstly, despite returning with Barca and NY, Thierry never really got the send off he deserved. I was there at the Eindhoven game in 2007 which saw his previous last game for Arsenal, and it was a miserable occasion. He limped off the pitch and we limped out of the Champions League. So, if nothing else, it was nice for him to come back and get a real last goal for the club (if it turns out to be that). The emotion that he and the fans showed when he scored was a real lift to the club in what has been a fairly disappointing season.

But...I don't think it will be his last goal. It's easy to think that Henry scored most of his goals at Arsenal through his pace, but he was also simply a phenomenal finisher. Even if he won't burn past players, I don't think he's lost his ability to get into good positions, stay cool, and slot home. And when you consider how much of our travails this season have been down to poor finishing, and a lack of cutting edge in the final third, you have to think he will get chances to score more in the next month or two, and that he will put some of these away.

Lastly, he scored a goal that means we're through to the next round of a competition that I think we can win. Personally, I don't see why we should have to choose between a fourth place finish and winning the FA - surely we can do both, particularly if we get a few more reinforcements in this month. His goal today was the difference in an otherwise fairly lacklustre performance, and means we don't have to go up to Elland Road for a replay. Good stuff, and, ultimately, a good win after the game at the Cottage.

The only dampener I would put on proceedings is that Henry showed the difference between a good player and a great player tonight. Make no mistake, we have very few great players in our current squad. Maybe only one (no prizes for guessing). Until we somehow get more players on the level of RvP and Henry, we won't compete for the very top trophies again. Tonight was the briefest of glimpses of the level at which we used to play - when, in my opinion, we were genuinely the best team in the world, whether or not we won all the trophies that we should have done.

A few other thoughts on the game:

* OK, what is the story with Park? Maybe he would have got on today if not for the injury to Coquelin, but he yet again did not make it off the bench, although at least he made it onto the bench today I suppose. I think there is something odd about this transfer. Park is not an awful player - he did ok at Monaco for several years. I don't understand why he's not been given more of a chance, especially when the alternative is Chamakh. Could he really have been that bad in training?

* I thought Arshavin had a fairly decent match, but his lack of finishing was disappointing once more. I kinda think he might go on a decent run of form if he can just catch a break with a goal at some point.

* Another full-back, another injury. V. disappointing to see the Coq limp off. One wonders where this leaves us now in terms of defenders. Up the proverbial creek, I'd say.

* TH will get the plaudits, but SZCZ made a big save at the end which secured the win.

* I have to say I laughed when Henry took the ball to the corner flag. Ah, sweet memories....

Next up are Swansea. Let's hope we can build some momentum from tonight's game.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed, as a matter of fact the most memorable Henry goals have been when he hasnt used pace. The one that sticks out for me is the one against Sparta Prague in the CL. He brought the ball down outside the area after it had gone so high it came down with snow on it, swivelled, and lashed/half volleyed it into the bottom corner. He has always been such a great finisher of a football, possibly the greatest the PL has ever seen.