“I would love this place to be my garden”

Ai??Thierry Henry, on Highbury

No Arsenal fan worth his condiments will have a bad thing to say about Thierry Henry. Indeed, even an appreciable percentage of rival fans have doffed their caps at the Frenchmanai??i??s astute footballing ability, unbridled pace over short distances and sharpshooter finishing in front of goal. What started off as cautious whispers exchanged over the internet, has now mutated into the full-fledged roar of journalists tripping and treading over each other to report what will arguably be the most-talked about transfer of the January window (Any mutterings about Gary Cahill will find this writer reaching for his gun) – Henry has agreed to a loan deal at Arsenal for two months, a deal that will see the North London clubai??i??s record goal-scorer return for his final bow.

Any attempts to analyse the necessity, wisdom and potential impact of the move finds the mind and heart viciously at loggerheads with each other. The head tries to rationalize and comes to the conclusion that the move is perhaps too elastoplast, and certainly doesnai??i??t represent a step in the forward direction. The heart then promptly steps in, puts the head in a headlock and reminds everyone that this is *Thierry Henry* being talked about, Arsenalai??i??s poster-boy for so many years, probably their greatest player in the modern era, a person who has a statue to his name at the Emirates Stadium. This sparring has pretty much gone on in infinite loop ever since news trickled through of Arsene Wenger confirming that the deal was almost in place.

The Head: Stop-Gap Squared And Backward Steps

Henryai??i??s deal has primarily been pushed through so that he can join the club and help partially fill the void left by Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho, who leave for the African Cup of Nations in January. While it is obvious that any loan deal is made essentially in a stop-gap sense, thereai??i??s a feeling that Henryai??i??s deal might push the barriers of those words even further; stop-stop-gap or stop-gap squared perhaps.

Robin van Persie has dutifully banged in the goals in 2011, and may well continue to do so into 2012 as well, but every player has a saturation point, and itai??i??s only a matter of time before Robin reaches his and has a poor patch of form or little niggle that keeps him out for a couple of weeks. Arsenal are not a one-man team, but their dependence on the Dutchman to provide goals is overwhelming at this point in time. An able deputy who is reasonably confident of scoring goals on a semi-regular basis should be top of the priority list, both in the short and long-term.

Marouane Chamakh, even if he returns to form, is more of a midfielderai??i??s striker than a strikerai??i??s striker. He will never give you goals by the truckload, and nor will Park going by his past track-record and negligible evidence on the pitch thus far. A protAi??gAi?? striker, someone who is prolific enough for Arsene to rest RvP comfortably instead of overburdening the captain, is whatai??i??s required. In such a situation, getting Henry seems a bit of a furtive shot-in-the-dark. It certainly doesnai??i??t solve the long-term problem, and with the loan deal expiring in two months, it fails to take care of this seasonai??i??s need for goal-scorers as well. The burden is still basically on Robin, unless Chamakh ingests some magical horse placenta in Morocco and comes back chock-full of goals.

Moving on; moving on is one thing Arsenal donai??i??t seem to be doing too well. As the club celebrates its 125-year anniversary this term, the motto has been ai???Forwardai??i?? but some actions over the past few seasons seem to be at odds with the motto in question. After Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann, Henry will be the third ai???Invincibleai??i?? to make a return to the club which, while suitably heart-warming, also speaks more of regression than evolution. The fact that players from the past which Wenger had deemed fit to sell on, players that are now clearly past their best, have been required to come and help the team out, hints at worrying gaps in the current team (apart from hinting at a premature dismantling of The Invincibles themselves, but that is for another time and another article).

Arsenal fans ideally need to stop clutching at the Golden Age, spiffing though it was, and this procession of returning giants is preventing them from doing just that.

The Heart: Unfinished Business And Public Image

The Head might preclude sentimentality from entering into any discussion, but rarely is any sport so soaked in the mushy stuff as football is. Buckets of tears shed by pot-bellied men, death-threats and throat-slitting gestures made by toddlers, applause for rival teams, swearing at the live stream to buffer faster at 3 am; the sport is as much about these intangible vagaries as it is about the kickabout that takes place on the pitch.

"Always knew he would sign him"

.

And for Thierry Henry, a gooner if there ever was one, a player who was moved to tears at the unveiling of his statue, this move represents the chance to finally say a fitting goodbye. His last appearance in an Arsenal shirt was when he went off injured against PSV Eindhoven, hardly a poignant farewell for a club legend. Heai??i??s made trips to Ashburton Grove of course; both in a Barcelona and New York Red Bulls shirt, but this would really be his swansong, something that Henry deserves.

“I take the ball, I go wide, I cross, I shoot, but when the moment beckons, I am ready to make the difference.”

-Thierry Henry

The Heart realizes that Henry is not going to be the slaloming, Tottenham-defence terrorizing, in equal parts assassin and ballerina that graced English football from 1999 to 2007. But, as the esteemed Gunnerblog points out, there has rarely been a footballer so conscious about his everyday image and reflection in the eyes of the public as Henry is. Hs has nothing to gain from this deal, to shake his head to it would be the easiest thing in the world. And the last thing he would want is to tarnish his image at the club. So, the only feasible reason for his to agree to this arrangement is a genuine belief that he can make a difference to Arsenalai??i??s season. A genuine belief that seems enough to convince Arsene Wenger, and should consequently be enough for everyone else too.

Transfer-wise, there is a possibility (admittedly an unlikely one) that Henryai??i??s move has been made so early in the window merely to buy more time for Arsenalai??i??s wide array of scouts to scavenge for the protAi??gAi?? striker the club direly needs. The very short-term security of Henry coupled with van Persieai??i??s prowess and some Podolski-like insurance for the future would represent an excellent monthai??i??s business.

Harping on about the immense morale boost this signing would provide, both in the dressing-room and among the fans, is redundant and shall not be gone into. His calming presence, the know-how that winning leagues in countless different countries provides, his ai???weightai??i?? as Arsene Wenger would quip with a wry smile on his face – all these things have been repeatedly stressed, and rightly so.

To put it in the proverbial nutshell, this signing can only be accompanied by a positive splash-on effect. And if things go well, a quality back-up who knows the backwaters of the Premier League like the back of his hand is certainly no bad thing to have.

The Head and Heart will spar on for all eternity, and only time will tell who puts the machete into whose chest. But the move is happening. Highburyai??i??s gardener is back. And Arsenal play Manchester United on January 22nd. You know, just saying.

Article Written by Guest Author Abhishek Iyer from BigFourza.

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10 Responses to “Thierry Henry At Arsenal – The Head And Heart Have A Little Swordfight”

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  1. Junii says:

    Great article. I am a Gunners fan and do feel it is “risky” business to bring back Henry when it is evident that we need a long term solution. However, I like many other Gunners fan’s am excited to see if he can help continue the teams impetus and inspire players like Theo Walcott to develop.

    Gunner for Life!

  2. rananjay says:

    great article

  3. Lewis says:

    Love the ‘swearing at the live stream to buffer faster at 3am’. So true.

  4. eyu says:

    Best ever and ever … Henryyyyyyyyy ….

    Could anyone tell him to remove his beard, he looks nice with out it … l0l

  5. Stone ;) says:

    Superb article, as usual! Robin and Mikel have spoken of Titi’s ‘bravery’ in choosing to come back. Wonder why….

  6. Vishaal says:

    Same little sword-fight when Sheva returned to the San Siro :)