It was a fairytale ending to his Arsenal career. Having returned to his much-loved Gunners on a short-term loan deal, Thierry Henry struck an injury time winner to see off Sunderland. It was his 228th goal for the club but questions are now being raised over whether it will be his last.
The Gunners’ striking woes over recent weeks have been well documented. Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and others have failed to set pulses racing and, as a result, Arsenal have failed to win and claimed a paltry two draws from their last four matches – scoring only twice in the process.
Those problems have now been multiplied by the news that Podolski has picked up a hamstring injury which, though only reported as a short term issue, limits Arsenal’s already narrow choice of offensive options. The German international will miss this weekend’s match against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium – a fixture from which the Baggies may well be confident of collecting points.
January reinforcements are surely needed. But would an approach for Henry be an appropriate move for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to make? In the short term it may be.
Despite having Marouane Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin at his disposal, Wenger is, perhaps understandably so, hesitant to rely on either as a source for goals in Arsenal’s mini crisis. Both seem to be living in north London on borrowed time.
Henry may now be 35-years-old, but his form in the ever-improving setup of Major League Soccer implies that he could still do a job at Arsenal. The 123-times capped French striker has scored 32 goals in 61 appearances for New York Red Bulls since he made the move from Barcelona in 2010 and maintains a good level of fitness. In that respect, he could prove to be reliable cover for Giroud, in particular.
However, perhaps the under-fire Wenger should consider the message that this signing sends out in terms of looking at the club over the long term. Despite tinkering with his team over the past seven years, Wenger has not settled on a squad that works – particularly in terms of frontmen. Turning to a striker who was moved on five years ago is almost an admission of failure to find an adequate replacement.
Bringing Henry back in January 2012 was necessary. Arsenal were enduring a turbulent season and, more than anything, he had a galvanising effect on the club and its supporters. His signature pulled the club together and the Gunners rallied to eventually finish third.
To some fans though, resorting to that tactic again would stink of desperation on Wenger’s part. Henry is a year older and, with the Arsenal board insisting that Wenger has funds to spend, the Emirates faithful may be pulling their collective hair out that he does not use that money to purchase a younger, hungry poacher.
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