FA Cup: Arsenal vs Leeds… Thierry Returns…

Tomorrow, we face Leeds in the FA Cup… and tomorrow also marks the return of Thierry Henry to the playing squad. I am a massive fan of Henry – he is a legend – but I kind of feel that the return of the former hero is overshadowing everything else at the moment. There are a lot of things going on at the club and despite massive attention needed on those areas, the world seems to be focused on the return of the King. Don’t get me wrong – I am eager to see him in action, I am keen for him to help the squad, to fill in the gap. I hope at the end of his loan spell, we see a rejuvenated Chamakh and an exciting Gervinho re-join the squad. I’m hoping our full backs, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby return and we have no further injuries for the reason of the season.

But, in reality, I doubt that will happen.

I’m an optimist, which means that even now, 12 points of the top, I still have a feint title hope. It’s not like we haven’t clawed back a 12 point lead before. United & Chelsea don’t look great, so there is scope to catch them.

Whilst we look good, it’s obvious that we lack any serious strength in depth – there is a culture of saving the pennies at the club, and this means it’s unlikely we’ll ever sign a player to replace an injured one. Despite the plethora of injured fall backs and the sales of Eboue, Clichy and Traore, there is no desire to purchase a player. Despite the fact that the boss only trusts Robin Van Persie and doesn’t rate Chamakh or Park at all, there is no desire to bring in another forward that can actually compete at this level.

Tomorrow, we will play Leeds and for me, the FA cup could be our only real chance of a trophy this season. We have seen what one win can do to a squad and I’d love for us to start winning trophies again, and soon.

Over the Christmas and New Years period, we played a serious amount of games, but from now until the Champions League kicks back in, we don’t have hardly as many games, going back to one a week – with the next

game after Leeds on Sunday at home against Swansea. For that reason, I don’t expect a massive overhaul of players in the first eleven, but I do expect some changes. Robin for example, will certainly be rested, and I think Arteta will be too.

Henry will play, but I’m not sure for how long… Arsene confirming.

“I’m pleased [to sign Henry] because it took a little while to get the paperwork done, but finally it is done. He works hard, but he is a bit behind physically. In one or two weeks he will be fine. He will be involved against Leeds. At the moment 90 minutes is a bit long for him because he has not played for a long time.”

Let’s have a look at a predicted line up:


Coquelin – Metersacker – Squillaci – Miquel

Song – Rosicky

Oxlade – Benayoun – Arshavin


With a bench of Almunia, Koscielny, Ramsey, Henry, Walcott, Arteta, Van Persie, Yennaris

That would make – resting Van Persie and Arteta, starting with a lot of fringe players, and giving our star of the back line, Koscielny, a rest too. The line up gives us options to change the game if we need to. Walcott, Henry and Van Persie are all good attacking options and Ramsey, Arteta and Koscielny defensive ones if needed. We could have done with the likes of Frimpong, Lansbury or Vela for this game, but hey, they’re on loan and therefore a non-discussion!

Update: Van Persie is actually on holiday in Dubai and therefore will not be at the game.

Mr Keown was in the press earlier today and gave a resounding verdict on Henry’s return:

 “I saw him train with Arsenal on a corporate day and I saw the reaction from Arsene. There was a glint in his eye and I wondered if he would bring him back. At the beginning of the season, Arsenal had lost a gumshield and were lying on the floor on their backs. Now, they’re on our feet and I think Thierry can deliver a knockout punch. He is the best athlete I’ve ever seen with a pair of boots on.”

I hope the former Gunner is right!

Today we have a very tasty FA cup clash up in Manchester when Man United play Man City at City’s ground – kick off at 1pm. Will be a cracker….

Until tomorrow, have fun…

  • bergChamp

    If Henry makes a difference – and he is probably better than Chamakh, Park, Rosicky, Arshavin etc – then he will be taken away from us in 6 weeks.

    We need another player to be signed ASAP!

  • Anonymous

    Arsene, please sign some players up now. No back up for Song or Arteta, and no forward threats. Do it now!

  • devday

    Update: Van Persie is actually on holiday in Dubai and therefore will not be at the game.

  • Roachy

    Henry is a great signing IMHO….Short term fix until Wilshere and Diaby return fully fit and ready to take us through the run in. And with Gervinho at the ACN I hope we get to see more of the Ox in attack as I think he is an absolute gun!!! Against ManC in the Carling Cup he gave there defence and torrid time!!! At one stage they had three on him as soon as he got the ball…

    Defensively though we are very short and desperately need a L and R back. The loss of Gibbs, Sagna, Santos and Jenkinson (all at the same time) and now the Verm, out for most of January, has left us with only CB’s to field as wide defenders. The big positive is that we have rarely been beaten at set pieces. The negative however has been we show very little support in wide counter attacks from the L and R backs.

    Perhaps Wenger may strengthen in Jan, maybe, but I suspect if at all, he may get one defender for cover.

    Lets hope we progress against leeds and we have a realistic chance to grab a trophy this year.

  • arsefan101

    @ Roachy:
    Yes, in principle – but Diaby can’t be counted on for sure.

    The interest in Kalou suggests that Arsene understands that we lack up front. If we don’t get Kalou or any other forward re-inforcement then that’s a fail from Wenger

  • devday

    The rumours that Chamakh will play tonight are filling my boots with excitement. The real question – why am I wearing boots?

  • vj

    Here’s an idea i’ve looking at the season when arshavin joined and it seems that he played mush better in 4-4-2 than 4-3-3/4-5-1, and I think tonight is a good oppurtunity to try 4-4-2 again.

    Szczesny/Almunia (lol I know)

    Coquelin Mertesacker Squillaci Miquel

    Benayoun Song Rosicky Arshavin

    Chamakh Park

    what do u guys think?

  • robin

    Signing Thierry Henry was the most pointless thing that Wenger could have done. Why not resign Robert Pires as well or Freddie Ljungberg ? Or perhaps persuade Lee Dixon the leave the BBC and pull on his boots once more ? This is “ambition” for Wenger – or should I rephrase that to “ambition on the cheap” – Arsenal lack ambition and a manager and board who put profit before success. Arsenal are the laughing stock of Europe and nothing more than a supplier club….

  • robin

    Bit worrying that our reserves lost at home to a sunderlad side with no premiership/first team experience. Our starting 11 included Oxo, Ryo, Miquel & Park. Maybe another sign that our strength in depth is worse than we feared?

  • stevethegunner

    have to say guys, after the awful second half display at Fulham on Monday, devoid of any passion or desire, I think the second half of the season is going to be a drab affair for us. After all the efforts getting back in the shakeup, the old habits have returned against Wolves QPR and Fulham. Only hope we can sneak past Leeds tomorrow. The manager seems to have gone back to his beligerent myopic self after more honesty earlier in the season. Its as if he convinces himself that the team are good enough and then cannot accept any reverse is down to a lack of ability. Hope I am way out here, but I can see sixth place, the serious threat of elimination to Milan in the CL with a bit of a FA cup run in front of us, unless we have a fresh couple of faces. I’d like to be more positive but I just seems like groundhog day again from previous seasons, still watching players like Djourou, Arshavin, Walcott and Squillachi get playing time, in front of the Ox, Miguel, Beneyoun & Fringpong.

  • robin

    So we needed a Legend to comeback and save us.Henry looked tired and there’s no way he can play for an hour long let alone the full game.But him being around the Arsenal team really does benefit us.We can always use him as an impact sub.But that dosen’t hide the fact that Wenger has to go buy a henry like permanent striker.Chamakh was ever so useless yet again.Atleast Arshavin worked hard today but chamakh was not interested at all.Go spend some money wenger and show a bit more experience.Before the season I knew what we were getting into and I don’t want to experience the same thing again.But if it takes an 8-2 spanking to make him spend some money,so be it.

  • Leroy

    Well, in the end a great win and a simply fantastic moment – I guess the script was written. It JUST had to happen, and only a limb, numb, lifeless spud wouldn’t have felt anything watching that. I rank this with moments like the 1989 title win at Liverpool, a little piece of history that will be talked about for years to come, about which you can tell your kids “I was there” or “I saw it happen”… Anyway, I’m almost back down to Earth BUT I have to say – we needed a little bit of superhuman magic tonight to put away a fairly weak(ened) Leeds team and, with all the possession, attempts and control we had in that game, we couldn’t score goals. At home. Again. And that is worrying for me. Very worrying. There’s no use asking “would any of our other players have been able to finish in a similar position?”. They all had similar chances on goal, especially Arshavin with multiple alone, and spurned them. It’s looking so far like a long term injection of quality is needed up front because, apart from RvP and now Henry, we just don’t seem to have any goals in the team at the moment. Very worrying indeed! But nice to win, and great moment. 1-0 to the Arsenal, the king is back…

  • paul

    what a shocker that people are trying to put a dampner on this moment? miserable idiots. Obviously, as an Arsenal fan, I’m going to say that but it’s good to see that some fans of other clubs also got caught up in the moment.

    Yes, Henry is not the same as when he left the club, he’s not going to batter opponents like he used to but Henry is a true legend of Arsenal, the atmosphere around the club since he announced he would return for this short period of time was immense and it was such an amazing moment when he slotted it home last night.

    It was like being transported back to the 2000’s, seeing that trademark finish. It added the magic to what was, in truth, a dull match.

    To all those, saying “why all the fuss”, if it had been a legend of your team returning and scoring, how would you have reacted?

    The King is Back (albeit only for a short time…)