Thierry Henry added to his legend with the most crucial of goals for Arsenal yesterday, ensuring he bowed out of his return to the Premier League on a high note.
The French striker scored his 229th goal for the club in stoppage time at the Stadium of Light, to give the Gunners a crucial three points that saw them leapfrog Chelsea into fourth place.
The statistics, as I’m sure you will have seen elsewhere, show that in his short time here on loan, Henry has been more prolific than Fernando Torres, or our very own flop Marouane Chamakh. There is a feeling, more than ever, that this might not be the last we see of Henry at Arsenal. For now, though, his departure is worrying news: he has shown that even in the twilight of his career he is a superior option to Chamakh or Park on the Arsenal bench.
Eyebrows were raised when Wenger brought Henry back. For one thing, it showed a lack of faith in Chamakh and Park – should an old Henry, now playing in a weaker league, really be brought in ahead of a couple of strikers who could do with gaining some confidence and form? While Henry’s impact justifies Wenger’s decision, it also puts Chamakh and Park further to shame: Chamakh for not adding anything on the pitch, and Park for not impressing sufficiently to persuade the manager to give him playing time.
There will be time, I’m sure, to mull over the practicalities of what happens next. We will learn more about our backup strikers in the coming months.
For now though, congratulations must go to Arsene Wenger for recognising the need for a better striker, even if he didn’t recognise it ENOUGH to spend some serious money on someone like Podolski. His faith in Henry to deliver has paid off and given the club a real lift in a time of doom and gloom; seeing our best ever player back again was a gift to cherish, and he might well have scored a goal that we’ll look back on at the end of the season and say: “that turned things around, that got us fourth place”.
Of course Henry has scored goals that carried much greater glory in his first spell at the club, but like before he has done the job required of him. When we needed him to win big games and win trophies, he played a very big part. Times have changed and regrettably we can only hope for as high as fourth this season, but he has done his bit to help that happen too. It is his sheer consistency in giving us what we need that makes him the legend he is.
I say all this now, but he could still play a part in our Champions League game at Milan this week. Of course it will be a very different and more difficult task, but there could be yet another glorious moment from Henry to come.
And unlike after his first spell, this doesn’t feel as much like the end of Henry at Arsenal.
For more of my thoughts on Arsenal and other football matters, follow me on Twitter @markbrus