As we saw from the second half of the Wolves game, this Arsenal team is more than capable of creating chances and dominating the opposition all over the pitch, but as we saw from the first half – at 1-0 against an ‘easy’ team, they go to sleep.
We’ve recently seen United win 5-0 twice in a row – always hungry for more goals, always wanting to thrash the opposition, something Arsenal have only really managed once this season away to Wigan. The team have improved a lot since the disasterous start to the campaign, but that improvement has only meant narrow wins over the likes of Norwich, Everton and Aston Villa. Obviously we welcome the three points however they come and grinding out results is important, but over the course of a season if we’re not winning games comfortably it says something.
And I wouldn’t say it reflects the team’s quality, as ever it is the character that is the problem. As I said, we were all over Wolves, as we were all over Man City for the second half at the Etihad recently; we can step up our game when we feel we need to, but it’s sad that we can’t play like that when we’ve taken an early lead at home to relegation fighters. 1-0 up after 7 minutes against a team like Wolves should be game over, and for United at Old Trafford it probably would be, because they keep going and terrify their opponents. We, on the other hand, give the opposition encouragement by letting them back into it.
Of course we were somewhat unlucky on Fletcher’s goal. It feels silly to say it’s unlucky when it happens so often, but he literally had no time to aim his header and it could have gone anywhere, as it happened it trickled into the one part of the goal Szczesny couldn’t get to.
It was also an off-day for van Persie, which was bound to happen eventually. Gervinho scored a good goal, but is too erratic, and we have little goal threat from anywhere else. Rumours are that Thierry Henry will be signing on loan for two months. While I would be in favour of his return for reasons I’ll explain later, I think it would be a shame if he were the ONLY signing made in attack.
Selling Arshavin and Chamakh, who continue to add nothing to the team, would raise enough cash to sign Podolski, who I think would be ideal. as he could play van Persie’s role, or provide competition to Gervinho and Walcott.
Ideally though, perhaps these signings could encourage a switch back to 4-4-2? Taking the mental pressure off RvP and tactically allowing him more space would surely be a good move, especially at home. We also don’t need three central midfielders all basically doing the same thing, Song and Arteta would suffice, and I fancy Benayoun could do quite well in the Pires role on the left if given the chance.
Anyway, as for Henry’s possible return. There are pros and cons, of course, but I see no harm in giving it a go. Some fans worry it would tarnish his legacy if he came in and did badly, but I don’t go in for sentiments like that. He is our record goalscorer and probably will stay that way for a very long time; he didn’t play or score much in his last season with us, so why would an extra two months make a difference? The other main argument is that he’s playing in the US and the quality isn’t as high. Well, Sol Campbell was playing in League Two before his second spell with us and I am of the opinion that he did very well, both in his performances and the experience and leadership he provided to a young team.
Let’s face it, Henry is good enough to adapt his game and add something to this team without necessarily having the pace he used to. He is an excellent finisher and will get many chances to show it in this team. He is also very capable of playing a more creative Bergkamp role, with his superb passing and vision.
34 also really isn’t that old. Many top strikers have played in the Premier League into their late 30s. Who knows? If Henry impresses in his time here, an extended stay or even a permanent transfer for another year might not be out of the question. Quality is permanent, and whatever his age, he will still have more quality than Chamakh has ever had.
Some have also argued that this would be something of a marquee signing to appease the fans, increase attendance and lift morale. Well, so what? If the fans are lifted, the atmosphere at the stadium can lift the team to better things. And, as with Campbell a couple of years ago, playing with a club legend who knows how to win things will surely be good for the players.