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Thierry Henry Transfer, A Step in the Wrong Direction?

The excitement over the return of Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer, on a two-month loan is understandable, but the realistic impact Henry will have towards Arsenal’s push for Champions League qualification is questionable. He’ll be a great presence in the dressing room, a great tutor for other players and it’ll be great to see him back in an Arsenal shirt, but Wenger should be looking to rebuild his squad, bringing bright new talents to create a squad sufficient to challenge for the Premier League once more, rather than looking at short-term solution signings such as Henry.

Lack of Depth

Let’s face it, Arsenal are relying heavily on Robin van Persie, and, without his goals, the Gunners would be lying just 4 points away from the relegation zone on 18 points – the absence of Gervinho and Chamakh to the Africa Cup of Nations will increase the pressure on the Dutchman to stay fit and continue his fantastic form even further. A supporting forward that can divert some of the pressure away from the 28-year-old is needed, but Henry is not the short or long-term solution. Despite his decent record in the MLS, the Arsenal legend is going to struggle to compete effectively in the Premier League and, considering his age and absence from top level football since 2010, is unlikely to complete a full 90 minutes in his second spell at the club. The Frenchman will almost certainly score a goal or two, but, in such a crucial period for Arsenal, they cannot afford to slip up; quality signings need to be made for the London side to finish in the top four.

Lack of Ambition

Champions League qualification this year is integral for the future of Arsenal. Along with the obvious financial implications, the prospect of Champions League football attracts the hottest talents from across the globe, which Arsenal have always used to their advantage. They rarely offer the massive salaries that Man City and Chelsea use at their disposal, and so they are heavily reliant on the attraction of Champions League football. Considering qualification is no guarantee this year, the purchase of world-class players in January could be essential to Arsenal’s future. Firstly, they’ll have a greater chance of actually finishing in the top four, but, if they don’t, it gives other potential signings in the future a hint of the ambition of the club to move forward. All their recent signings signal to a team in decline, and Henry adds to this list. Mikel Arteta for example, Arsenal’s replacement for Cesc Fabregas, is a talented midfielder, but he’s never going to be on the same level as the Barcelona man. Fabregas’ departure was inevitable, yet Wenger failed to have a quality replacement ready; clearly easier said than done, but the Arsenal manager could’ve handled the situation far better than the last minute panic buying that ensued.

Hopefully, Wenger has learnt his lesson from deadline day in the summer and won’t drag out negotiations for players, instead buying early in the transfer window, even for an inflated price. However, focusing on the Henry loan deal has sidetracked Wenger’s thoughts away from other players, players that may be harder to persuade to move to the Emirates, leaving Wenger with even more problems. Although experience is needed in any team, he needs to get his priorities sorted out. They need a quality, supporting striker, Lukas Podolski perhaps, to release the burden of scoring from van Persie’s shoulders, and it’d be in their best interest to get this sorted out sooner rather than later; a rushed decision and they could end up with an Andy Carroll or Fernando Torres type player.

Arsenal Must Spend

Henry will not be a hindrance for Arsenal so long as they show their ambition and spend some money. The best-case scenario for the Gunners would be for Henry to remain on the bench for the length of his stay, proving that they have players of superior ability to Henry. If he is used purely as a back-up player, simply to tutor the other forwards, then his loan spell will be a success. However, if they fail to rectify the clear lack of depth and quality in the Arsenal team in January and rely on Henry to support van Persie in big matches, they may find that the all-important Champions League spot eludes them for the first time since Wenger took charge.

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  1. Pietro Romeo

    January 16, 2012 at 4:57 am

    I disagree with premise of this article. I really don’t think the Henri loan and Arsenal’s failure to buy quality in a timely fashion are connected. Wenger is stubborn to a fault in his drive to purchase good value players. I think that was before Henri arrived and will continue to be true after his return to the MLS.

    The loan deals from the MLS are another issue. They appear to be win-win all around. Players seem to like it. It brings attention to MLS clubs. EPL clubs get cover during African Nations and for injuries.

    Maybe I missed it, but I would like to read something about the nature of these loan deals. Who covers for Red Bulls or Galaxy if one of their stars gets banged up during their loan? Do these short term loans go the other direction? For example, could a EPL squad player get a few months of MLS matches in the summer?

  2. fred

    January 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    The deal’s a decent call by Wenger.Henry reached his peak a couple of years later than most top strikers habitually do in his first spell at Arsenal,so he’s probably going to have greater longevity and still be capable of chipping in with a few goals in his brief return spell.

  3. FootballTalk

    January 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Loved every second… Haven’t had that feeling as an Arsenal fan for a long time but when Henry scored… Speechless.. Even on Facebook the non Arsenal fans were commenting saying the legend returns. The sum up for me was when one of my mates a Leeds fan tweeted “oh well if we were going to lose I’m glad it was to such a superstar”.

    I’m also going to enjoy those fans both Arsenal and non winding their necks back in after saying it was a bad move bringing him back. Arsenal runs in his veins I’ll never forget his reaction, my reaction, everyone’s reaction when Thierry Henry scored on his second debut.

    He returns 🙂

  4. jack

    January 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Im getting sick of arsene wenger not putting his foot in some top quality players in the transfer window. Somehow asharvin diaby and chamakh have remained on the team which blows my mind. He needs to buy experienced players who can play at the fast pace arsenal require. If we want to be top 4 changes need to be made

  5. Dan Lott

    January 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    @Ritchie Arsenal have two good center backs in Vermallen and Koscielny. Those two are good so not sure what games you have watched lately. Per M is slow but has good vision & technique. He isn’t the worst in the EPL by far. And the fullbacks are pretty decent when healthy.

  6. Dan Lott

    January 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I just read this in the Guardian

    “Wenger, who has apparently fired all his scouts and simply decided to buy whoever he sees on TV…”

    Is there any truth to this “firing all his scouts?”

  7. Mike Perez

    January 3, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Is it me or Thierry Herny returning to Arsenal not bad idea not like ill be starting on his two mouth loan and fyi Arsenal wont be in Top4 this season hello Europa League

    • Phenoum

      January 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Dont you have an anti-Glazers protest to be at?

    • Reba

      January 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      I’m not even sure I understand this comment. Punctuation was invented for a reason.

  8. Nelson

    January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Hearing you gooners talk about Champions League as if it was a birthright is just hilarious. Now that Manchester City has entered the big four, and for what looks like a pretty long spell, you are going to have to really compete and wish for some luck to get top 4 now. Oh, and your gonna have to beat your N. London neighbors this year to have any chance at all, which doesn’t look likely. So, welcome to the world of the Spurs!

    • jdoe

      January 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Let’s see what happens at the end of the season. Spurs’ birthright will always be behind Arsenal! Just as always…

      • Nelson

        January 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changin'”.

  9. Ritchie

    January 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    By signing Thierry Henry the arsenal board are giving the whole squad and fans a boost. The return of one of the clubs legends will most definently improve current affairs with squad morale , however my questions still lie with Arsene’s failure to spend and maintain squad depth. Arsenal who are hampered by injuries and constantly claim to have a hampered squad send their up and coming young players out on loan rather than playing them in the first team where at the minute there are pleny of opportunities. Emmanuel Frimpong for example has been fantastic for the gunners in every game he has played – ok a bit hot headed , but arsenal need that sort of figure – showing that if he is given chances he can perform.

    Another of our problems lie with players such as ; rosicky , bennayoun , squillaci , chamakh and djourou. They have all proven to be more of a hinderence than a help on more than one occasion , ok rosicky was fantastic first season or two but now he along with the others is dead weight. This brings me to my next point. Arsene must spend money , there is a gap to fill in the striker department meaning he should tie up Henry full time (if possible) or an experienced striker – podolski , Owen , aquafresca , klose etc – and a younger striker such as Niang , neymar(bit expensive) etc .. By doing this , not only is Arsene creating support and partnership for van persie he would be creating arsenal more goals and removing the pressure from Robin’s shoulders.

    Also my last point is that arsenal remain weak in the defensive area. Remove djourou and squilaci from the squad and your left with mertesacker koscielny Sagna santos and Gibbs ( younger players as well ) this for a premier league squad is laughable ! We should look at even the smaller clubs and realise that even they have more depth in defence than us with the likes of stoke and Sunderland having numerous defenders to choose from. Sign Shawcross samba jagielka sakho vertonghen alderwield muniesa santon or any other defender who is actually capable of either broot defending or ball playing or both and arsenal would immediately improve as a side – obviously gel time will be needed -.

    Always up for discussion –

    • Jack Tomczuk

      January 3, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Overall good comment, but some of your transfer suggestions are laughable. Owen is nothing more than a well-paid doorstop at Old Trafford. He wouldn’t represent an improvement over Chamakh or Park. Most Arsenal supporters hate Shawcross for maliciously breaking Aaron Ramsey’s leg (I’m not sure Ramsey would welcome his addition). And there’s no question that Shawcross is a very dirty player, though possibly this is due to Tony Pulis and Stoke City’s tactics.

  10. Jack Tomczuk

    January 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Signing Henry will do no harm to Arsenal, as Chamakh has been absolutely useless since the middle of last season. Even if he fails to keep up with the pace, he can’t be any worse than the tandem of Arshavin and Chamakh.

    Supporters do need to understand that Arsenal haven’t spent big in the past and won’t spend big in the future. Everyone that holds a powerful position at club, from Kroenke to Gazidis to Wenger, are on board with the self-suffcient financial model. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, as Wenger is a good enough manager to work with young and (relatively) low-priced players.

    It amazes me when people call for Wenger’s head because no other manager could do what his done with such limited spending. Just look at how difficult a time the Chelsea manager is having with a far superior squad of players.

  11. gooner

    January 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I’m so enraged that we lost to Fulham that I want to vent my anger!!! We should have been up by a dozen goals in the first half. I mean, we literally thumped them in the first half. just f*** butchered them!!!! how we took our foot of the gas pedal in the second half and just let them get back in the game and not score many many more goals is beyond me. Arsenal played like crap in the second half. I don’t know why they went so deep when they should have continued pushing on for another goal. OR Why didn’t Wenger switch to a 4-4-2 formation because Fulham were bypassing our midfield?? We would’ve made it harder for them with another man in midfield and let Van Persie and Gervinho play as the two strikers. Replace Walcott with Benayoun and continue pressing our lowly West London rivals. I don’t understand Wenger’s tactics in the second half. I’m just flabbergasted. The successful Arsenal teams of the 1930s would have made mince meat out of this lowly inferior Fulham team. They got lucky today. they aren’t a good side, they are relegation-fodder.

  12. Gary

    January 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Henry’s loan spell is cover for Gervinho’s time at the African Cup of Nations tournament. If Gervinho were not leaving Henry wouldn’t have been signed on loan. Since Arsenal don’t want to spend on new players then this loan del makes a lot of sense. I still think Arsenal should be looking for a permanent striker to play alongside RVP. Chamach(sp) hasn’t been good enough.

  13. Hart

    January 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

    who said Henry is over just f**kin prick, who knows Antonio Dinatale how old he is?, who knows Giafranco Zola?, who knows Paolo Dicanio….

  14. bill

    January 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

    the author makes it sound as if wenger is only allowed to make 1 move in the transfer window…arsenal should be by no means done with their winter dealings, a LB is needed, as well as proper cover for RvP…if these needs can bring in quality players, arsenal will certainly be in the mix for a top 4 finish

    • Reba

      January 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      Of course, we all know Wenger CAN buy/bring in more than 1 player during a transfer window. The question is: Will he? He might, but he does have the reputation as a tight-arse for a reason. Just saying.

  15. hoosiergunner

    January 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I think the author (and the first poster) have some valid points. That said, I don’t really think the Henry loan will actually hinder any of the longer-term solutions as outlined in the article (should they be pursued by management)… Admittedly, I am just a little giddy (and not seeing things objectively) about the thought of Henry playing with the Gunners again (even if for just an abbreviated reunion tour).

  16. Lee

    January 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Henry is quality. How could it possibly be a bad thing? It couldn’t possibly be worse than Chamakh. They still have Gervinho wich is feeding quality to Van Persie and now Henry. Where’s the wrong direction? I think you are over analyzing it.

    • Peter

      January 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Gervinho will be at the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

      • Lee

        January 3, 2012 at 1:14 am

        Ah, I forgot. Sorry. The ho at the end of his name messes me up.

        • Steve

          January 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

          Have you never seen him before? I get what you mean about the name sounding portuguese or brazilian, but still…

  17. DanD

    January 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

    It is imperative that arsenal finish in the top 4 but all the signs point to them being there at the end of the season. After all, they currently lie in 4th despite a dreadful start to the campaign. A start, it should be mentioned that was hindered by the loss of cesc and nasri, and more importantly without their new signings (who, when they did join, naturally needed time to gel). It is incorrect to think of Arteta as cescs replacement, although many pundits have made the same mistake. Clearly Wenger sees Ramsey and Wilshere as the future of arsenals midfield and Arteta was mainly bought because it was apparent at the time that Wilshere would be out for months. Arteta is good but he is plugging the gaps – something Wenger alluded to. Wilshere will eventually be fabregas’ replacement and is good enough to do so. He still represents one of the best prospects of young midfielders in the world, along with other players such as Goetze (who has been linked with arsenal although he may prove too costly). This fallacy that Arteta was the replacement for cesc is analogous to the similar accusation directed by pundits towards Arsene that he had foresaken his youth policy (who clearly ignored the acquisitions of oxlade-chamberlain, jenkinson, miyiachi and the promotion to the senior team for frimpong, coquelin, and ignasi to name but a few). Ignorance is not an excuse when reporters and pundits overlook these glaringly obvious facts. Finally, the question of Thierry Henry; nobody is expecting miracles or has forgotten his age. The fact that he costs nothing in transfer fees, will be there for just a couple of months, and will cover for the losses of gervinho and chamakh makes his loan deal a no-brainer! Apparently Henry has looked very impressive in training. Wenger is not one for sentimentality otherwise Patrick Vieira wouldn’t resigned instead of going to city a couple of years ago. Having qualified not only for the champions league proper but also the knockout stages every time for 15 years (something not even levelled at sir Alex and utd), you underestimate arsene wenger and arsenal at your peril – but clearly some people are slow learners and should probably seek alternative employment or different hobbies!

    • Andrew Puopolo

      January 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Please explain to me who would drop out of the top 4 in order for Arsenal to come in

      • bill

        January 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

        arsenal are in the top 4 right now

    • Jack Rigelsford

      January 2, 2012 at 11:51 am

      I don’t think I’m underestimating Arsenal really – they are way too reliant on RVP, and if he got injured they may struggle for goals. Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool all have strong squads, so i don’t think CL football is a certainty whatsoever because of the strength of the clubs surrounding them, like Andrew Puopolo implies in his question. E.g. What if with Gerrard back, Carroll gets the service he needs, scores frequently and therefore Liverpool start winning more matches at home? There are so many scenarios it’s hard to call at the moment.

      I agree that Wilshere is clearly good enough to be as good as fabregas. But it’s so unlike Arsene Wenger to pay £10 million for a player just to plug the gaps until wilshere returns; which at the time, was only a couple of months. Arteta is unlikely to get any better, and I thought perhaps Wenger would actually look to buy another midfielder with potential to be quality rather than a player like Arteta, or give someone like frimpong or coquelin a chance to prove themselves, seeing as they were good in the games i’ve seen of them this year.

      You’re missing the point I’m trying to get at with the Henry loan deal I think. I’m not saying it’s a bad deal at all, but it means they might not realise how thin the squad is; they’re whole season is relying on RVP to continue his great form. They need to take Henry out of the equation, and look at it is if he wasn’t there, realizing that they’ve only got RVP and Walcott who are proven to be good at this level.

      • Phenoum

        January 3, 2012 at 10:28 am

        So if RVP is injured then Arsenal would play every game with 10 men? Yes RVP’s been exceptional this year – but keep in mind that arsenal’s shape lends itself to having 1 at the top who does the scoring. You kid yourself if you take yourself seriously suggesting we’d be in 18th if he was out. Man i get tired of you journalists stirring up sh*te just to hear yourself talk.

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