Following up on ArseBlog’s excellent post on whether Henry would be going to Arsenal or Barcelona, I went through his list of ‘pros and cons’ and figured they were a bit biased (all fans are, to a great extent).
So here are my…ahem…views on where Arse got it a bit wrong.
Henry’s place in Arsenal
More so than Vieira, Henry is a legend. He has increasingly been under the spotlight as the years have passed, and right now he is the most popular man in the club. That alone should be reason enough to stay on – not because he has an ego, but because he is in a position to make a difference.
But the problem is that Henry is in that position precisely because there are no big names left in the squad. All due respect to Freddie, Pires, and Sol, these guys are not legends. Ok, Bergkamp is was but he’s on his way out – next year there will just be Henry, leading out a pack of young-uns.
It’s trite to say that Henry is ambitious. But it is also foolish to assume that at Arsenal, Henry will get to realise those ambitions. Arsenal have lacked consistency and while they spent most of the time this year going in the wrong direction, Chelsea and United have both raised their games are far more likely to slug it out at the top than Arsenal.
Their Champions League form has been stunning but as ArseBlog says, even the team did not believe it was possible (and I doubt Wenger honestly believed that it would happen, no matter how much he had hoped for it). With Barcelona, it was almost a given once they passed Chelsea that they would be in the finals. In certain respects Barca have already played two dream finals – Chelsea v Barca and Milan v Barca. For Henry to stay Arsenal will have to match Barca’s amazing domestic form, and with the competition at hand (Chelsea, United, Liverpool) and with Arsenal’s tendency to lose the plot, it doesnt look likely.
This is a very contentious issue. Back when I started this blog I asked if Henry would pull a Vieira? A better way to put it would be to ask if Arsenal would deal with Henry the same way that they have dealt with Vieira (beg him to stay one season, then sell him the next when replacements are gelled in). Forget about the money Henry will make at Barca or Arsenal – how will Dein and Wenger treat their prized asset? We all thought Vieira couldnt leave, but he did. Henry’s loyalties lie deeper, but if there is any indication that they will cloud judgement one only has to look at the Keane-Ferguson spat of last November. Football is not only a place for sentiments – it’s about business and it’s about winning.
Barca with Henry – unstoppable. Make no mistake – Henry will be able to demand that Barca do something about their backline (which is slightly susceptible but so bad as people seem to think) and they will most likely bring in fresh blood at the back as well (if Gallas goes there instead of Milan, I’m putting my money on Henry going as well…just a thought 🙂 ).
Arsenal with Henry – beatable. The defense (despite CL) is shoddy, the midfield can be overpowered and apart from Henry, the other strikers can be shut out with ease.
At the end of the day, it’s not an easy decision – Henry’s heart is with Arsenal, but maybe his head says that they arent good enough for him. Plus, Barca is not where Henry would fit in too well (ArseBlog makes an excellent point on cultural differences).
It’s not fun seeing such a great striker leave a team where his heart is, but with Vieira’s example in front of him and at the end of the day, Arsenal’s inability (current) to win the league will count against them as much as his loyalty counts for them.