Arsenal 1 – 0 Leeds: Genius Never Gets Old

January 10, 2012

It’s not a trick of the eye, it’s not a fancy photoshop job. That is indeed Thierry Henry in an Arsenal shirt, an Arsenal shirt of 2012, wheeling away to celebrate a goal.

And not just any goal, but an Henry goal. Song played in a brilliant through ball that split the two covering defenders, Henry took one touch to control the ball, and himself, and then he curled right into the corner of the net away from the keeper’s despairing dive. This was a goal that was a blast from the past – the good old times when it would be Bergkamp or Bobby Pires or Freddie playing the ball into Henry. It brought a joy to the Emirates that we’ve not seen in some time.

More importantly, it also brought us into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup where we play Aston Villa.

Leeds came with one objective last night: shut up shop and try to get a return leg at Elland Road to bring in some much needed funds. In the first half we had 63% possession, but created little in the way of real chances. Arshavin, Ramsey and Arteta all had half-chances but none that really caused panic in their defence.

I must give a word to the three mentioned above. Despite his wayward shots and odd bad decision, Arshavin put in as much effort last night as he has done in a long time in an Arsenal shirt. He kept going until the last minute, and it was pathetic he got the yellow card (although deserved) when he was the one kicked and dragged all night. Ramsey and Arteta also put in a massive shift in midfield, both are neat players who aren’t afraid to get stuck in. Wenger’s choice of Captain was spot on – Arteta is a calming influence in there, and with Jack due back soon from injury we’ve a nice midfield forming.

As for our younger players, Chamberlain had a decent game. He is a willing lad, always game to run and try the odd trick to get around his man, he’s not afraid of a shot either. What I liked about him last night was how he would spot a man free on the other wing and switch play with a good pass. Ramsey did the same on occasion. It was a great shame Coquelin went off injured, he has played well of late and was proving he was deserving of his run in the first team, hopefully his injury isn’t serious. Yennaris had a decent game with he came on for Coquelin, didn’t do anything rash and wasn’t afraid to get on the ball.

As for Ignasi Miquel – can someone make sure we wash all that Barcelona DNA bullshit out of him so when he becomes a top defender he’ll stay at the mighty Arsenal and not whinge to “go home. ” Here is your home Ignasi! He is only 19?! Is he?! Composure or what? (Although I know it is Leeds and they didn’t threaten much but this is based over his few games this season). (PPS He also has lovely hair).

At the back Kos and Squidgy did what was needed, which wasn’t much. Szczesny also did well to stay alert and make a good save right at the death – however, he needs to remember that sometimes it is okay for the keeper to just boot it into the stands. His fancy dan stuff out on the sideline that gave the ball to a Leeds player could be more costly against a better side.

Aside from that, Chamakh started well for ten minutes and then did little. I’m not sure if its him not trying or us not playing to his strong suit (whipping balls into the box for him to attack) but at the moment I’d rather see Park getting the spot on the bench and having a shot – with Chamakh off to Africa he should have his chance now, or will Henry take it?

And so we are back to where we began – with Henry. The headlines are all going to be about him tomorrow and why not? Look how much the goal meant to Henry, meant to Wenger, meant to everyone at the Emirates, to Arsenal fans worldwide, to non-Arsenal fans worldwide.

You see, genius doesn’t get old. No matter who a man plays for, you have to appreciate when they are good, when they are great. There was just this more than horrible belief that Henry’s career would be overshadowed by that handball against Ireland because that was the last “big thing” Henry did. Until last night. Last night’s goal was so simple to Henry, it brought back all those other 226 goals with waves of emotion.

THIS IS HENRY! This is the Henry that must be remembered. Twitter was absolutely mental last night with people proclaiming the “Return of the King” and it wasn’t just Arsenal fans. All the Arsenal players were buzzing, players from other clubs, commentators, celebs, nobodies, everybodies – think what you may of Henry’s return but isn’t the buzz that moment created reason enough to smile and be happy?

That handball against Ireland will be put into the annals of history and everyone will be talking of 9th Jan 2012 and where were you for the second coming of the king?

Me? I was at home in my room in Ireland going mental, thanking Henry for the one birthday present I wanted more than most (ask Peaches), and while you are reading this I will be at work, wearing an Arsenal shirt from the Unbeaten season with “Henry 14” on the back and telling any Irish person that wants to argue otherwise that 78 minutes into last night’s match is Thierry Henry, Son of Arsenal and one of the finest players the world has ever seen.

With 12 minutes remaining, Henry scores his 12th goal against Leeds in 12 appearances wearing number 12 on his Arsenal shirt in 2012

Tell me it wasn’t meant to be?!

Written by IrishGunner

Holy Johan – We Live To Fight Another Day

January 9, 2011

Ahh, there is nothing like the FA Cup for a bit of spice is there?


Anyone expecting Leeds to just show up and enjoy the experience of the Emirates were having a laugh. I have seen a couple of Leeds’ games this season and they are a more than decent unit (their unbeaten run was only stopped by Cardiff in midweek). The term “unit” is important here, while they played like one, we didn’t. And can we really be surprised? They played with pretty much their first XI, while there was massive changes to our side. These were changes Wenger had to make though and I don’t begrudge any of his selections.

Chesney was an obvious starter in goal. Gibbs was coming back from injury and giving Clichy a breather. There was no choice but to play Eboue with Sagna suspended, and the CB pairing was a no-brainer as well. In midfield, I felt Wenger called it right, starting Denilson and Song with Mozart. Arshavin also got a chance to prove he was deserving of a regular starting berth, as were Bendtner and Chamakh.

The performance itself wasn’t bad. We still got our passing game going and created some half-chances, the problem was we weren’t quick enough or fluid enough. And despite there being two or three very rash challenges (Bruce on Chamakh), I personally felt Leeds played and defended very well. Their CB pairing were excellent throughout and the whole side defended as one. They also have a fine young keeper in Kasper Schmeichel – that save from Denilson in injury time was outstanding. Our own ‘keeper produced a fine save of his own from Beechio’s header.

First of all the bad.

What has happened to Arshavin’s first touch? Too often the ball got away from him and too often he just stood there and didn’t bother to try and win it back. We expect so much more from Arshavin and its no surprise to see him slipping down the pecking order. Hopefully he can get a good game under his belt and get back some confidence. He had some touches during the game (including the volley that was saved in the 1st half) that reminds us that he is a top player.

Next was the penalty, silly by Denilson. It was a lazy leg just left there and was always going to be a penalty. Overall I felt Denilson had a good game and was more influential (defending and going forwards) than a tired Song.

Now for the good.

Theo came off the bench and did brilliantly. He used his speed really well and won us two penalties, even though we were only allowed to take one. Great cameo from Feeeeo. Cesc also did well and tried to get the team going.

But the best part of the whole game (apart from the equaliser) was watching Johan Djourou command the defense. Since his return from injury he has done brilliantly and only reconfirmed how good he is becoming yesterday. Any high balls that came in were usually met with his head and he’s not afraid to put his body on the line. Man of the Match by a clear mile and hopefully we get to see him and Vermaelen team up pretty soon.

So off to Elland Road, a replay is not ideal but its better than being out of the cup.