A Frenchman’s Fairytale in North London

It seems according to the bookies, that few could have predicted the dream return of Thierry Henry to Arsenal  on Monday evening, scoring the winner in an otherwise dour game.

It was probably too much to ask, to have a game as pulsating as the previous days Manchester derby at the Etihad but the story from this game resonated a lot further amongst the footballing world.

Arguably the finest player to grace the Premier League, and Arsenal’s record goalscorer to boot had made dreams come true across North London. As a fan of football in the modern era it is very easy to get disillusioned with the types of money being banded around for in many cases mediocre talents (Andy Carroll for instance), whereas a real world class player like Henry went to Barcelona in 2007 for peanuts.

Henry’s goal and subsequent story have brought a minor romance back to the sport (also with it being the FA Cup) and given them fans a night they will seldom forget in a while. Usually comeback stories never have any sort of happy ending in football. For example players like Sol Campbell, Jens Lehmann and Robert Pires all trying to find former glories and tainting their legend in Premier League folklore in the process.

Coincidentally those three as well as Henry were part of the Invincibles team of 2004, which many (myself included) thought was broken up to soon. If we were to look at the flipside of the coin, this can be seen as an statement of failure on the manager’s part as it certainly says to me that besides Robin Van Persie; that his current forward options just aren’t good enough. The papers the next day confirmed this, with some awful statistics on Gervinho, Andrei Arshavin, Chamakh and even Theo Walcott.

Henry’s return arc’s back to a time when football certainly in my eyes when the Premier League was at its peak, and although money was being spent by the likes of Chelsea, we were nowhere the levels of Manchester City today.

This could be Henry’s only moment to treasure back in a Gunners shirt, but as he said in The Sun himself,

“I didn’t take it all in first time round, this time I know when it will end and I will enjoy every moment.”

Even as an Aston Villa supporter (coincidentally the team Arsenal will play in the 4th round) I was glad to the see Henry back in the Premier League, as I felt his time at Barcelona was wasted to the point he would be a regular on the bench when he could have walked into any Premier League side in that time.

I just hope he gets a slight knock, and is a doubt for the Villa game though, considering his fine record against us.

One comeback that wreaked of even more desperation was the decision of Paul Scholes to come out of retirement for the Manchester derby at the weekend. As mentioned previously this is a sign of failure on the part of this time Sir Alex Ferguson, which is a rarity in itself. Surely the realisation that Scholes, Giggs and even Rio Ferdinand (who seems in decline) will not play on forever and need quality replacements has dawned on him by now.

The goalkeeping situation has also been a problem since Edwin Van Der Sar’s retirement at the end of last season, with David De Gea’s erratic form. Clearly there will be some upheaval at Old Trafford in the summer, and it will be interesting depending on where the title ends up going, if Fergie decides to break the mold and spend big.

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