Monday, January 9, 2012

Henry Magic Sparks Arsenal Victory in FA Cup

Henry Celebrates on His Return
It just had to be, didn't it? Cometh the hour, cometh the man and all that. Thierry Henry's brief two month loan move to his former club Arsenal got off to the most dramatic of starts in London this evening, when the French legend scored a scintillating second half goal that took the Gunners past Leeds United and into the next round of the FA Cup. Arsène Wenger probably couldn't have written a better script if he had tried. It was a sweet moment for Henry and one in the eye for the fools who assumed that Arsenal were getting a dried up husk of a player.

Those who have been watching Henry closely over the past year and a half probably weren't surprised about the turn of events. Although the Red Bulls struggled mightily through a tumultuous 2010 season, Henry's quality was never in doubt. In fact, you could argue that only his absence from key road games, a few controversial red cards and the incompetence of the Red Bulls' defensive corps stood between TH14 and an MVP trophy. Put simply, Henry has qualities that few players in the world possess. He has also been diligent about staying in shape, which helps compensate for any loss of pace over the years. Smarts, positioning and the ability to finish under pressure count for a lot in football, an he has those qualities in spades.

Naturally, in the wake of the goal Twitter and our own Facebook page were abuzz with speculation that such a performance would lead to an extension of the loan period, with some alarmists even going so far as to say that Henry may never return.

Let's step back from the ledge for a moment and get a little perspective. When he signed on with Arsenal, Henry was at pains to emphasize that he would be back in New York to help the Red Bulls challenge for an MLS Cup. Is it possible that a set of circumstances might present themselves that would have Wenger and Henry contemplating a loan extension (say, an injury to the oft-injured Robin Van Persie)? Perhaps. But the Red Bulls would still hold the upper hand in any negotiation, and Henry has demonstrated his commitment to the club both in words and actions. In any case, it's unlikely that every appearance Henry makes over the coming weeks will be quite as dramatic and emotional as this evening's debut was. The hype will fade.

The best thing Red Bulls fans can do right now is savor the artistry of one of the great players in world football and hope that he doesn't find a way to pick up an injury before his return to New York. Whether you're an Arsenal fan or not, Henry's goal this evening was a pretty cool moment for him, for MLS and for the game in general. Can't we just enjoy it for what it was, and leave the nail-biting and idle speculation for another time? Please?
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