The return of the great Thierry Henry to Arsenal in recent days has seen a rise in the beliefs of Arsenal fans. Expected. The man who brought them so much glory and so many goals had returned to the club that he has loved since he was a young man for a short two-month loan from NY Red Bulls. His impact? Instant.
After weeks of speculation about return of the hit man, dreams finally came true last weekend, when he was given Arsenal’s number 12 shirt for his two-month stay. Arsenal fans rejoiced. Premier Leagues sighed at the prospect of having to defend against Thierry Henry once again. Leeds United at the Emirates on Monday night was hyped as the ‘Return of King Thierry’ by many, and in all truth… they were proved right.
After 68 minutes of typical Arsenal football, the stage was set. With the scores deadlocked at 0-0, thanks to outstanding performances by Andre Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh, the stage was set. Excitement built within the stadium. Camera phones were readied. Arsenal fans all around stood saluted the man whom they have shared a love affair with for so many years. Thierry was back to save the day, surely?
One shot, one goal. What a return.
A through ball from Alex Song found Henry in that position that we as football fans are so used to seeing him – the left hand side of the box. Simon Grayson knew what was coming. Henry’s right foot caressed the ball into the opposite corner of the net with a sense of conviction. The celebrations all around the ground mirrored those of a World Cup win, or even a father’s celebration of a newborn child (all though I get the feeling that many male Arsenal fathers would say that this feeling was far superior). A sound erupted from the Emirates that has never been heard before. Relief, joy, passion, pleasure, lust and love, all rolled into one.
And that’s the way it stayed, 1-0 to the Arsenal. Twitter went crazy. Facebook went into pandemonium with statuses about the undeniable brilliance of the French prince. Henry was back to save the Arsenal’s season. Everything was going to be alright.
The return of Thierry Henry should not disguise the fact that Arsenal are still a faltering force. Impulse buys in the summer of Arteta and Mertesacker have proven unreliable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Arteta is not as good a player as either Fabregas or Nasri. Mertesacker? Everything about the man says that he should be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive woes. The truth of the matter is, is that he is yet to adapt to the English Premier League. A calamity of errors and a handful of misfortunes have left the big German stuck in a rut. Will Thierry cure all of these problems? No. The man is there for two months, not two years. It is true that form is temporary, and class is permanent, but it is also true that a two-month loan deal is not a permanent one. One man alone cannot solve a whole clubs footballing issues.
Arsène Wenger needs to make a change. Signings that should’ve been made in the Summer need to be made now. So what does he need? Here’s what I think:
Mario Götze – the young German attacking midfielder is certainly one for the future. Even now, the young man is a starter in the German national side. His tendencies to be calm on the ball, and quick thinking make him the perfect signing for Wenger. A pricy price tag may scare the Frenchman off, but the man needs to think long term. Sign Götze now, and he may not need to sign a Central Midfielder for another few years. Worth it? Yes?
Ryan Bertrand – on loan, because he’s immense.
Salomon Kalou – Rumours have been spreading recently about a supposed interest in the young Ivorian. The Chelsea man has found games hard to come by at the Bridge, and a move to North London would certainly interest him. Premier League experience is key to any signing, and Kalou has bundles of it. With a keen eye for goal, and great attitude, Kalou is a must have for the Gunners.
Gary Cahill – Yes, he is probably going to go to Chelsea, but this just highlights the faults with Wenger’s transfer policy. Interest in the summer was not enough to prise the man away from Bolton Wanderers. In came Mertesacker instead. However, I am one who believes that at the heart at any successful Premier League defence, there is a need for a typical English centre half. John Terry at Chelsea. Rio Ferdinand at United. Carragher at Liverpool. Ledley King at Spurs. These players understand the league, understand the game, and most of all, understand the football. Gary Cahill is Chelsea’s next John Terry, a clever move by AVB, however, a poor one by Wenger.
Alex – A sheer brute at the back. Will provide stability for the team, and is sure to provide cover for the ever injured Vermaelen. Available for a steal from Chelsea where it is thought that £4 million could gain the services of the Brazilian.
And finally, a striker. Of course there is van Persie, Gervinho and Walcott, but there are issues. Van Persie’s injury record is a concern for the Gunners, and the refusal to talk about a new contract until the summer leaves the Dutchman’s future in the balance. Walcott is hardly a week in, week out performer, and the same goes for Gervinho. Thierry Henry has been drafted in for brief cover for the absent Gervinho, but he will not be there for long.
My fear is, is that Thierry Henry’s return on Monday night will temporarily cover the cracks that are beginning to show again at Arsenal FC. Arsène Wenger has been renown for his stern conduct in transfer windows, but for the sake of the club, he needs to spend. There are bargains out there, partly thanks to the robust attitude of his Portuguese counterpart in West London, but the question remains… Will Arsène spend?