What does life post-Thierry Henry hold for Arsenal?
After the humiliation of losing 4-0 to AC Milan on Wednesday night, Arsenal have had to say Au Revoir to a club legend, as Thierry Henry returns to the United States to rejoin the New York Red Bulls. Although the veteran forward didn’t recreate the heroics of yester-year this time round, winning goals against Leeds and Sunderland prove that Mr Va Va Voom still has what it takes to compete at the highest level. Given the fact that a lot of soul-searching and improvement is needed to salvage the club’s season, what does the rest of the campaign hold without the mercurial Frenchman?
Top Four Aspirations
Although all Arsenal fans would love to consider their club as a contender for the Premier League title, this season a top four finish must be looked at as a success, if it occurs. With the loss of Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri in the summer, the slow start to the campaign and increased competition for the top four, if The Gunners can qualify for next season’s Champions League it will be a real bonus. The battle for fourth place is seemingly now against Chelsea, with Liverpool and Newcastle outside contenders.
Henry’s ability to win a match would be a welcome bonus for the rest of the season, as he has he ability and past record of popping up with important goals to turn one point into three; take Sunderland for example. Without the French man for inspiration, pressure is now on the likes of senior statesmen Tomas Rosicky, Andrei Arshavin and Gervinho to help Robin van Persie to reach the required goalscoring tally to finish in the top four.
Champions League pride
Despite the dreadful performance in Italy in midweek, Arsenal Football Club must hold their heads up high and gain some respect and pride by winning the second leg. If the hosts score an early goal anything is possible, but realistically the club will be eliminated at the hands of Massimiliano Allegri’s men. However, despite a competition exit, a victory at home to salvage some honour, confidence and revenge is a must going forward.
The modern day footballer typically does not put his heart and soul on the line for his team, but one man who did and does is Thierry Henry. With a never-say-die attitude, Henry would urge his team-mates to get a result and play for pride in the second leg; in his absence senior figures at the club must stand up and be counted.
North London pride
Finally, with Tottenham currently ten points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League standings, it is looking increasingly likely that Harry Redknapp’s men will finish above The Gunners in the table. This could also be critical due to the lack of available places in next year’s Champions League, however the north London derby on Sunday 26th February could play an important role in determining where each club winds up.
After losing 2-1 in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane, Arsenal simply must beat Tottenham at the Emirates to save some face. If Spurs are going to finish ahead of Arsenal some pride must be regained by taking three points from them, and giving the home faithful bragging rights for the time being. Thierry Henry was a menace to Spurs backlines throughout his first spell at the club, and would have pumped the side up had he been present next Sunday; the club needs someone else to fulfil that role if three points are to be achieved.