Hooray Henry – A Legend Returns

Arsenal 1 – 0 Leeds United

1 – 0 Henry (78)

Arsenal progressed to a fourth round tie against Aston Villa with a blast from the past, history relived and a million headlines written. Proclamations of inevitability about the goal were too much but let us not kid ourselves, it was wonderful for a forward to come onto the pitch with some sort of hope or expectation of a goal.

The joy of the moment, the release of nervous energy and unbridled elation of the moment erupted in any heart carved of red and white; the years rolled away as Song slid the ball through the line of defenders, the left edge of the penalty melted as Henry’s body shape dictated where the shot was going and inevitably ended. This was Arsenal’s Sex Pistols at Manchester Free Trade Hall moment.

Yet it need not have been the defining moment of the night, simply the crowning glory. Arsène was true to his word and fielded a strong side. The defence was makeshift and even the inclusion of two callow full backs and Sebastian Squillaci could not cause the shipping of goals. Arsenal were simply too strong for Leeds.

Aaron Ramsey dominated the proceedings from the kick-off but Andrey Arshavin threatened to take the headlines, shooting wide inside five minutes and high shortly after; his accuracy was improving. Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Sebastien Squillaci provided a goal threat of more potency than anything Samir Nasri could manage yet still the ball evaded the back of the net.

Twice midway through the half, Arsenal might have taken the lead. Crisp passing across the baize allowed Ramsey a sight of goal, his effort looping over following a deflection before Arteta clipped the post. Leeds offered precious little before Becchio shot over and not much after.

A procession of chances went begging as Coquelin retired injured, the curse of the left back position etching a route across the defence. The clamour to dispense with Squillaci’s services this Winter may be quelled knowing that he is one of the few fit defenders at the club.

The second half started with a renewed vigour from the home side. Deliberacy in his effort almost rewarded Oxlade-Chamberlain, his effort fizzing into the sidenetting. He was not the only one who relished the second period. Having gone close as the first half drew to a close, the interval revived Arshavin but still the end product was missing as he volleyed and shot wide on separate occasions.

For all of Arsenal’s efforts, few had forced Lonergan to do anything other than scramble across his goal to make sure that shots missedthe target. That changed as the hour mark approached, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s drive blocked by The Peacocks ‘keeper.

And then Henry arrived, Theo Walcott providing a cameo in the same spell, Rupert Grint accompanied Harry Potter into the fray. The goal arrived and briefly brought Leeds attack to life, McCormack spurning the best chance for another late and unlikely equaliser in a cup-tie between the two sides.

 Chamakh’s departure for the African Cup of Nations came on a relative high. He worked hard, perhaps relishing the opportunity to get some match fitness before the tournament. If the interruption provides a spark of confidence, Arsenal will benefit. His contribution was more evident than others. Park’s absence from action has been explained, his acute narcolepsy meant that he could not be roused for a substitute appearance.

Much of the post-match focussed on Henry. Wenger’s enthusiasm for the subject shows that his admiration for the player has not been dimmed through absence. A weight has been lifted with Henry’s “debut” and replaced by the millstone of expectation. Wenger suggests why the player is capable of reacting positively to that,

Thierry is a proud guy, he does not want to disappoint people. He knows he will be compared to what he has done before. That is what champions are about. They always say ‘I have no pressure’, but they want to be seen as people who do well. It is a kind of a comeback and you know you want that to be a success as a player.

Talk of starting places is surely premature and robs Wenger of options in future matches. And in any case, who wants to talk of the what might be, just enjoy the moment.

All that remains is to point you in the direction of the newest addition to the ACLF blog family, Arsenal On This Day. From one legend to another.

’til Tomorrow.

300 thoughts on “Hooray Henry – A Legend Returns

  1. Paul N I disagree with your earlier comment, Chamakh didnt need to score last night. ? We desperately needed some one to score! He is our main striker when RVP is not on the pitch. So why does he not need to score? It took a 34 year old who was acording to some on here not fit to come any where our team a few weeks ago to get the goal that didnt seem to be coming from any where else. Our strikers of all people need to score. I dont think Chamakh is as shit as he is made out to be but he is not doing what needs to be done. Yes its not his fault others could not put his set ups away but if he is just in the team to lay it off to others we need to get some others that can feed off him.
    To break it down, he is a striker and should be scoring goals. Not trying to set up our other goal shy players.

  2. It took a 34 year old who was acording to some on here not fit to come any where our team a few weeks ago

    “some on here”GJ????
    Can you name names???
    Happy NY btw.

  3. George there were many who said they didn’t want him near our team. I really cant be arsed to go back back see who it was.
    Happy new years to you to Mate. Im still stuck in the festive spirit, got a x mas party tonight to go to to follow up the 2 i had to attend on the week end. Cant take much more.

  4. 1. Song is proving to be a tremendous player and i feel if he would have had to go off to the ACN we would have issues like Shiteh are having without Yaya.

    2. Chamakh played good last nite and his layoffs just happen to be for shitty shooters like Ramsey who couldn’t hit the Ocean if he was swimming in it.

  5. Rumours emerging that Balotelli told everyone to fill their cars up whilst he was at the petrol station and he would pay for them. I hope this is true – he is a godsend for the premiership and anyone who loves a good character.

    GJ – happy new year, mister.

    I’d say, overall, Chamakh played very well yesterday. He created chances at, least one of which was badly squandered by Arshavin. Had AA not fluffed his lines a few times, Chamakh’s lack of goals would have seemed less material.

  6. songs been off colour last few games…for 89 mins last night he might as well been wearing a leeds shirt with the amount of possession and needless fouls he gave away..the assist was the saving grace…

    chamakh worrked hard but still wasnt a goal threat…he drops too deep..he plays as a midfielder most of the time and what the point when weve got three midfielders to do the spraying of passes…hes shit scared to get in the box and as a lead striker thats his job and that why he scores fuck all…

    for 70 mins we didnt have a striker on the pitch last night…and when we put one on we scored..

  7. arshavin upped his game last night..very direct running and alot of it, very good to see…
    but that final product still eludes him…but signs last night hes coming back..which is good cos if he comes back then gervinho dont get back in the team..

  8. Happy New year Jonny..
    Chamakh had his best game for some time. Was good to see, I am a fan of his and would love for him to come good. Just dont like having our season riding on it, because if RVP does go down we are essentially doing that.
    The real highlight for me yesterday was Arshavins performance, I know he missed a few but he really looked up for it yesterday. With a run in the side he is gonna come good for us.

  9. Twenty two full backs out injured. Do Arsenal have a ‘first eleven’?
    When was the last time Arsenal had a ‘first eleven’ on the pitch this season?

    They start by form and fitness. When one drops, or fly’s off, another will have to step up (on to the pitch!)

  10. Yes – I’d agree with that entirely GJ. I do not understand why we have so many players in one team who have a collective fear of shooting on target. It seems to have spread like a virus. They are all WAY more capable than this in front of goal and yet they all seem to be gripped with disbelief.
    Maybe hypnosis is the answer?!

  11. Gerv RVP Theo
    Arteta Wilshere
    Santos Kos TV Sagna

    That would be my guess at a ‘first team’ if everyone was fit. I wonder if they will ever start a game together?

  12. @ Bill and C

    As a home-grown player, Gibbs isn’t really denying anyone a roster place (unless we go on a spending spree). We have only five home-grown players in our Premier League squad – we’re allowed up to eight, so three available places. We’re at our quota for non-home-grown players – his departure wouldn’t affect that. I hope we keep him.

  13. yea Song had a couple of bad one’s but outside of those he’s part of the long term and continually shows that. yea he takes some shit fouls but also his tireless work and physicality is what we need in our midfield.

    I think some of the players can score because we’ve seen it but i also think part of teh problem is that like @jonny said its a virus and i mean FFS atleast get close like Ramsey’s blast last nite, were trying to score goals not kick field goals.

    @Billy’s Boots, I understand but FFS somebody give that boy something, between him and Diaby idk whose injured more. We will call a tie because I’m sure they’ll both come back as subs then in the same match or even practice get hurt again and then what

  14. Billys boots:

    I think we should keep Gibbs too but I would like to see him go on loan to a PL team for a season. No matter what the rule, if we don’t bring in another player because we still have Gibbs, then the reality is that he takes a roster spot and denies us the chance to bring someone who could contribute. Same for Park of any other player, homegrown or not.


    When was the last time any team had is entire first 22 on the field for any length of time? I like TV5 too, but I would start Mert instead, either way we are in great shape at CB. Kos has become the automatic first choice of the 3 for me. The LB crisis has prevented us from finding out who will be the preferred pairing.

  15. I think the lad will be some where around the 60 mill mark bye the time he moves. Cant see him going anywhere other than Real or Barca, unless man City make a stupid offer wich will probably happen.

  16. Jonny – That is the team I would go with if everybody was fit as well. What about the bench though? Some big hitters won’t even make it as sub.


    (I have discounted loan players).

  17. Great minds, Andy.

    Maybe –


    Bloody hell! It’s damn hard work, restricting yourself to just 7!

  18. Its rather cool how when you see the interwiev at atv from Henry he praises the younger kids. Yennaris, Ox and Miqel. Telling how great they did. A great leader does that.

  19. but he was young and stupid then, or atlest a bit more nasri like. I guess it comes with age…He seemed alot nicer than i remembered anyway…

  20. besides hes here now, we got to deal with him for 6 weeks, might aswell use him for what hes worth, if he gives a boost to the younger playes than nothing is better. If he praises them then nothing is better, if its genuin the nothing is better. However only those who speak to him everyday will know that.. but if a legend praises you and is genuine it must feel cool.
    its like Angelina Jolie telling you you are sexy and hot and that if she was not married to brad pit she would eat you right now.
    surly every man in the would would feel flattered and gain confidence from that…

  21. George:

    Love TH12 but DB10 will always be the greatest.


    If completely healthy Diaby has to be at least on the subs bench, probably ahead of Coquelin. Diaby plays in the Song position in a pinch.

  22. @Bill
    I love Diaby, but he’s never adequately filled the Song role for me – in fact he is better in a more advanced role. He is not one for holding his position and his defensive skills are, at best, mercurial. Asking him to be the anchor is a waste of his talents IMO.

    Difficulty is, for me, he is in some ways fighting with Arteta, Jack, Rambo and others for the no DM berths.

  23. ouch..thats abit harsh george..

    i wouldnt exactly describe henry as a great leader but he lead our strike force perfectly well for nearly a decade..

    the time he was captain was a time of us selling everyone off and changing our direction in what we wanted to achieve…henry was a winner and a leader…but we had started a transitional period and it made him look worse than what he actually was..besides, wenger has had a thing over the years for giving the armband to the clubs best players and not the best leaders but who else was there to chose from after everyone else had gone???
    henrys captaincy was a time of frustration.

    hes a fucking legend..what more does he have to be??

  24. So you keep telling me George, but I’ve already seen Wilshere have many, many more great games for The Arsenal than Diaby has.

    Let’s face it this is another divisive issue…

  25. I think Nasri was watcing the game cos deep deep down in his conciosness he knows he made a mistake when he left. He never realized how great Arsenal was before it was to late.. silly boy..
    i see him tweet to old arsenal mates all the time and he always tweets about the club. Never seen him tweet to City mates..

  26. dont pity Nasri, its his fault, Arsene wanted him to stay but he was chasing money and now his form and playing time for Shiteh isn’t very good at all. If he would have stayed would Arsene have spent money though?

  27. Great outcome and perfect return,

    On the Mancs/Kompany issue: who gives a fig? Certainly not me or any of the gooners I know.


  28. @poodle

    Nasri once said in the Sun in November of 2010 when asked about William Gallas joining the Spuds: “There are always ups and downs in life but I have a lot of respect for the way a player stays loyal to his club,” “I cannot see myself going and joining the sworn enemy.” and then summer of 2011 comes and what does he do.

  29. jonny..yes two footed tackles with studs showing can easily be described as too violent and punishable with a straight red. even if the intention is to play the ball you cant go for the tackle like that. no way. i dont know what kompany;s intent was..if it was ball or player…but he seems to be making challenge on ball and making sure nani has no other options than to lose ball and jump over to avoid clash. in this respect i can not call kompany’s intentions evil. however i have no problem with the red. BUT if kompany is gonna see a red let him see it because the ref identified the tackle and intention as violent. not because rooney is screaming at him. there is a fine line of interpretation here. did the ref give red cause he himself thought so or did that short cheating slaphead influence the ref decission. and also….if we accept that two footed challenges as immediate reds on the basis of evil intention then i take it that every foul on player and not ball is also a yellow. well my friend for the last 7 years i see our opponents tackling our players and not the ball, i see two footed lunges against ours, i see violent play against our players and nothing is being done. in fact the refs promote violent play against arsenal. so even if ethically speaking kompany was wrong, the fact that the one who benefits is united makes me so sick and the manner in which rooneh influenced it infuriates me. evra did same to suarez. that club is the cancer of football. and their filthy players and ridiculous manager can go die in another plane crash for all i care. when fletcher did it to arshavin i dont remember anyone favouring us…instead they placed our manager in front of 70,000 neanderthals abusing him as a peadophile. a true gooner will never forget what that scum has done to us………a true gooner waits the united bus to arrive outside emirates and burns it with molotovs.. our name is arsenal ffs..the canon…guns!!!! arson!! but you see we have too corporate fans these days……yappies with complaints…fags and moaners or some college kids…. with numero uno college boy that south african who hasnt even got the gutts to protect wenger and the squad from the f.a … whent he hell is someone from arsenal gonna come out and put them muppets at their places? whats taking them so long? is it like arsenal have to go through test periods ? is the englsih football establishment one big effing masonry to share the titles between themselves ? and then the f.a has audacity to complain to fifa/uefa for promoting th ebarcas and milans ….like the masonry here , the msonry of uefa would rather keep the cup with th ebig ears within the family..for perez, silvio becke..the people they know. the same happens here!!! they give it to that drunken scottish bas_tard and his “english spine ” of players…….

  30. Goerge @ 7:41,

    Agree about Diaby (fitness permitting). He and Jack have more potential than I feel many recognise (well at least concerning the former).

  31. Jonny abou Diaby has played in 160 games for Arsenal
    Jack Wilshere 64
    So young Jonny ,why have you already seen Wilshere have many, many more great games for The Arsenal than Diaby has?

    Do you not watch all the games?
    Or perhaps you are better at English than you are at Maths?

  32. wilshire ahead of diaby

    diaby off the bench to change the game when we need a goal..we start with diaby and we lose the work ethic and solid midfield displays weve developed using song, jack, arteta and rambo..

    song and arteta to keep anchoring, use jack like dortmund use gotze..attacking the middle and drifting to the flanks and taking people on and helping song and arteta when we dont have the ball..

    id even put rambo over diaby to start..rambos very industrious, runs his bollox off for 90mins..we are very solid with these 4.. jack and diaby are the most creative but jacks levels above diaby in terms of overall abilities..hes more an all rounder.

    diabys very much one way, going forward….diaby from the bench though would be very helpful when we need someone to spark a game into life…but he has to get off the physios table first

  33. Szczesny, told Ramsey he looked like a rapist on Twitter earlier today.

    After looking at a photo of his Gunners team-mate dressed in golf clothing and tweeted: “@aaronjramsey I don’t wanna be rude mate but you look like a rapist on that picture! Lol.”

    Before going onto tweet: “@aaronjramsey Looking like a rapist/pedofile isn’t a good thing either ;)”

    Chortle. Twitter is a nightmare for managers eh.

  34. I really like Diaby, but would trust Wilshere in the side more. Even at his young age he is more consistent than Abou. Plus it will be easier to integrate and build around him. Diaby is injured far too often to build a side around him unfortunately.

  35. jack was man of the match against barca when we wiped the floor with them…thats one of the many great games ive seen him play..

  36. Alright George quit the attitude. 😉

    As ever it’s all a matter of opinion.

    Diaby may have appeared in many more games but I, for the most part, have seen a mercurial player who, whilst capable of moments of brilliance, is also capable terrible inconsistency. Personally I have seen Diaby play brilliantly in but a handful of games.

    Wilshere was damn consistent for pretty much a full season. Diaby, even in the rare moments when he stays fit, has not yet achieved close to that for me – and that is in spite of the fact I very much want him to.

  37. If we use the disclaimer that each player is healthy and has been healthy for long enough to be sharp then Diaby probably goes into the first team ahead of either Rambo or Jack. As long as our wide forwards are not scoring regularly, we neeed goals from that position. I really thought Rambo would be scoring quite a bit this season. He had shown a nose for goal in his limited starts before this season. Unfortunately that has not worked out with him as a regular starter. Jack only had 1 goal all of last season despite playing the most minutes on the team in an attacking position. If Theo and Gerv start scoring regualarly then you don’t need goals from that position as much and may be Jack is the most consistent of the 3.

  38. So lets get this straight Diaby has played nearly 100 games more than Wilshere but has never had the chance to be consistent…

  39. i wonder if henrys presence in training will help the others learn how to shoot and if he chips in with a few goals in the next few weeks i wonder if wenger will contemplate keeping him..

    to be honest id like him to stay, i dont want to see him leave again as far as in concerned hes home but this is the problem we were all saying about the 2 month loan..

    he comes in , lifts the atmosphere, does a job for a few games and then it all returns to normal with all but one player slicing it wide, kicking drop goals and smashing wormburners straight at the keeper..

  40. Oh I see Jack is beyond question.
    1goal and 3 assists in his ,how did Jonny put it ?
    “Wilshere was damn consistent for pretty much a full season”
    Now I like Jack but come on.Its hardly numbers that shout out “I am first choice” Or does he get special “English and cockney” dispensation?

  41. George you dismiss ‘numbers’ when it suits you but use them when they suit you. Are you really suggesting Wilshere was not one of our best players last season?
    I think part of the problem here is that some fans get almost evangelical about certain players – and you’re, more than most, one of those types of fans.

  42. why is it whenever a players good enough we have to start using the english thing

    is diaby better because hes french??

    nationality doesnt matter, talent does and wenger used jack as a midfeild anchor last year even though hes an attacking player..

    hes that good…we had nobody else, denilson wasnt good enough and lost his place instanly.. diabys always in and out of the team with brittle bone disease or whatever hes got, wenger put jack there and the lad come good..adapted his game, learned the role…became key in the title challenge last year until everyone faded at the end..

    artetas here now..so jack can go back to what he was doing in the reserves, the youth team and in friendlies at the emirates cup and thats playing as an attacker who beats his man, drifts from flank to flank and creates havoc around the pen box…only this time hes got a couple of years of defensive teamwork under his belt so he fits the role that wenger asks of his modern day 10..

    this is why i want to see jack..he could be from the moon for all i care..

  43. Diaby is an awesome player. He has been consistent, so fuck you jonny 🙂
    The obvious problem is injury, not consistency. Seen Diaby in the flesh many many times have brilliant games. Its so fucked up he is always injured though.

    He is a far more potent force than Jack at present, Jack hasnt really contributed this season has he… Fucking injury prone bolsa wood made up waste of space that he is!

  44. Block4

    This is why I dont bother debating shit with you.

    YOu are too fucking thick man. Pulling up a stat about our games with Fulham and then the Gervinho article as proof?

    Go back to school and get sum ejjamayshun. No offence 🙂

  45. No Jonny ,you critisise players who you want and get upset if someone does the same too your little darling.

    He was a good player last year.Over hyped if you ask me though.

  46. “but arguing over players who dont contribute anything is more important.. 😉 ”

    Just the arguing JJ. Subject is not important

    ” hi im here for an argument” – “sorry thats room 3, this room here is for abuse|”

  47. This is my point George – who is my favourite player??

    You cant tell me because I actually, really don’t have ‘a little darling’.

    Well apart from Dex, that is. 😉

  48. Well you might think that George, but I think you’ll find that you’re suggesting that primarily because it suits you to think that’s the reason. I actually prefer Diaby in most ways to Jack – and I hope he becomes the player that some are convinced he already is.

    I just think Jack is ahead of him.

    Lets hope they are both back and can fight for the berth on equal footing.

  49. PG, do you know anything about this?

    “arshavin.eu: Let’s wait a while and see 🙂 … and one more question: after the victorious match against QPR, you underwent a surgery, how do you feel now?
    AA: Victorious.”

    Could that explain a few things?

  50. It’s possible to like a player without over-hyping them and being able to see where they could improve. It’s also possible to not rate a player without being abusive and failing to see the things they do well. But you rarely see that in reality.

  51. Jonny

    Aww shucks! Thanks man.


    Nah man, still going to games, although have had an extended Xmas break this year due to, ahem personal matters! Going Sunday though.

  52. George:

    I agree with you, but I am surprised to hear that Jack only had 3 assists last season. He is an eye catching player and he looked so good doing the things he did that I would have guessed he had double figures in assists. I’m sure he will start to score and pick out the final pass better as he gets older. Time will tell what happens. I have to admit I have always been a big Diaby fan so I am somewhat biased in saying I think he would be ahead of Jack if healthy.

  53. Rooney, are you sure? In all likelihood, you should have more years to your career remaining than Sir Red Nose’s career.

    “Sir Alex is the greatest manager of all time. Of course I would like to play under him for the rest of my career.

    “He’s a great manager and is a big reason why I joined Manchester United. If I could finish my career playing under Sir Alex then I won’t have gone far wrong.

  54. What is up with AA?

    Lovely work rate, quick feet, why isn’t it quite happening.

    Having had the chance to see what the manager is seeing week in week out, I think he is Rushin’. No I mean Rushing his passes, Rushing his shots. He just looks like he could do with what a commentator refers to here as ‘composure’ with his last ball.

    A classic case of his mind being ahead of his feet, and then they have to rush to keep up. I think it is psychological. Messi should be the guide there: the quickest feet on the planet combined with a clinical desire to complete.

  55. AA never was a consistent striker of the ball, whether you like it or not. I dont know the numbers but his shots to goals ratio must be pretty bad. Please dont compare him to Messi.

    In Russia, he was a second striker and considered an intelligent man by the Russian coach Guus Hiddink. His intelligence is making good passes and finding the main striker. Occasionally, AA can finish as seen against Liverpool and Barcelona but dont depend on him to do it consistently.

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