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The Return of the King? Why Arsenal’s move for Henry concerns me.

What I am about to write is going to seem like sacrilege to alot of Gooners. But as I have thought about this since the rumors started popping up, I am convinced that Thierry Henry is not the answer to our lack of strikers and impending ACoN departures.

What I am about to write is going to seem like sacrilege to alot of Gooners. But  I have thought about this since the rumors started popping up and I am convinced that Thierry Henry is not the answer to our lack of strikers and impending ACoN departures.

That’s right I am essentially saying that a possible loan deal for Thierry Henry is not a good thing for Arsenal.

There I said it. I will wait for all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to be slung my way.  But I hope you will let me clarify. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to see Henry back in an Arsenal uniform. It’s not that I don’t think he could add to our new found leadership in the team – through his examples of preparedness and skill. But what the loan deal does I fear is take Arsene Wenger’s eye off the real problems at hand.

Our lack of a second scoring option up front is no secret. Every time Marouane Chamakh or Ji-Young Park has taken the pitch as a sub – nothing happens. I can almost forgive Park. He’s new and isn’t been given a proper run out. The one or two times he has gone out he’s actually shown me he is at least better on the ball and going forward then the morrocan nightmare.  But he still lacks a final product and that is concerning.

The exploits of Marouane Chamakh are known. He has no pace, doesn’t know how to shoot the ball, can’t take on defenders and that amazing header of his has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Let’s face it the early promise of his first quarter of last season is long  gone.

Simply put we need a long-term solution as a second forward to Robin Van Persie. Thierry Henry is not that option. First and most obvious reason is that Titi would only be available for us for two months.  While that would cover the ACoN departures it does very little to help us long-term. Additionally, Henry is not the player he was at Arsenal or even Barcelona for that matter.

Sure he had 14 goals in 26 games for the New York Red Bulls of the MLS. And there’s the rub – MLS is not the Premier League. In some estimations its not even the Championship.  What Henry is asked to do in the MLS is different than what we would need him to do for Arsenal. I’ve got no doubt that he is as fit and good as everyone at Arsenal practice says he is. But that is practice. Teams practice hard, but the pace and roughness of the live match is another thing. And sure, he’ll only come on as a sub for the 11 games he would be here but there is still a question of whether he can handle it.

People point to the success of Sol Campbell and even Jens Lehmann as to why Henry could be a success. But really? Those two weren’t called up to be running up and down the pitch for prolonged periods of time. Sol was never the most mobile guy but his positional play was so good. That’s why he was successful. He didn’t need speed and skill for his position.

All that being said, I would be for Arsenal resigning Titi if I just didn’t have this nagging feeling that in the end, Wenger will say that a loan for Henry is enough business for January. Wenger has gone on the record to say he feels his squad is big enough to survive the myriad of injuries, the Christmas log-jam and the run for a Champion’s League spot. All the time while maintaining a run on the FA Cup and the round of 16 in the Champion’s League.  So if he truly feels this way and brings Henry in on loan, I fear that this will be the end of the business and we haven’t really addressed our deficiencies.

We sorely need to get rid of Chamakh and bring someone like Lukas Podolski or any capable forward who can spell Robin Van Persie from time to time and also offer us a viable Plan B coming off the bench.  Additionally, if you haven’t noticed we are bereft of any healthy fullbacks at the moment. One of them, Kieran Gibbs gets hurt the minute he walks towards the pitch.  While Andres Santos has shown that he should be the first choice LB, Kieran Gibbs needs to be replaced and let go. We need another, healthy left-back. We cannot continue to play games with our first choice CB and a back CB as our first choice fullbacks right now.

If Arsenal fail to address these situations because Wenger believes Henry fill his most pressing need, we will have issues. Gibbs is out. I hardly expect him back at all this season. Santos is gone till at least end of February, then expect another month of getting back into shape. That leaves us in April with a month to play. Anything can happen.

Additionally, Chamakh and Park as we’ve discussed offer us nothing in terms of scoring ability or the ability to give Van Persie a break.  Not addressing that and relying on Henry to do it is sheer madness. At best Henry given his ability now, can serve as a reaplacement for Gervinho (albeit a slower one). Working the flank and providing service to Robin.  He has some guile and his smarts will still make him dangerous. But as I have said before  that’s all well and good – so long as Arsene brings in a long-term solution, which I don’t think he will.

Some have suggested that Henry’s signing could damage his reputation if the experiment fails. I don’t buy that.  What Henry achieved here was amazing and it will take more than a two month stint at the club to damage that.  If you want to argue you can’t bottle lightening twice, I could agree with that. If you want to argue that signing Henry on loan would just paper over the cracks of some glaring issues – you’ve got me.

Henry will undoubtedly help Arsenal on and off the pitch. But if he is as I fear he could be our only business then I don’t want the deal and would rather the club focus on fixing the more glaring issues at hand.


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