My tribe

Why Henry shouldn't be shocked by Arsenal fans' frustration

As Thierry Henry will have been contemplating last night, the Arsenal he left five years ago is very different to the one he's rejoined this month.

The frustration of Gooners is palpable and unfortunately Henry copped just a taste of it at the end of their defeat to Swansea City.

The reaction of the Frenchman suggests he was stunned by the hostility, but when you consider the calls for Arsene Wenger's head over the last six months and the angry venting of fans on talkback radio, it really is no surprise.

And unfortunately Henry's presence - as it currently stands - is part of the problem.

If Wenger turns around and brings in another quality striker, coupled with the return of the King, fans' frustration will fade. But if on February 1, Henry is the only attacking signing made by Wenger, the prospect of deja vu for supporters will be infuriating.

Having dragged themselves up after such a dismal start, thanks mainly to the addition of their experienced, deadline day signings, the failure to move for that top drawer striker which will put them over the top will surely leave many Gooners in despair - particularly after last season's meltdown.

Henry's return is a masterstroke by Wenger, no question. His return has lifted everyone connected to the club and THAT goal against Leeds United will go down in Arsenal folklore. But unlike at Manchester United with Paul Scholes, this fairytale will end - and soon.

So what happens when his loan is over? In a perfect world, they're into the Champions League quarterfinals, the fifth round of the FA Cup and within striking distance of the league title. But then Henry leaves. Weren't we here just 12 months ago? Having invested so much in bringing him to the 'States, there's no chance New York Red Bulls will allow Henry to miss the start of the new MLS season.

So Arsenal are again left short in attack - just at the pointy end of the season.

And then there's the shadow of Robin van Persie's contract talks still hanging over the club. What exactly has changed since he chose to suspend negotiations before Christmas? Has the Dutchman's ambitions been met? It's difficult to see how the present Arsenal squad - and Wenger's transfer policy - can convince him that they'll be competing for silverware in the years to come.

It's a transfer policy which was turned on its head in the final week of the summer market. For all the chat about not wanting to block the progress of his young players, you fear for the club if he hadn't pulled the trigger on that scattergun swoop for Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun.

The great irony is that in each of their positions, it can be argued Wenger has young players on the brink of a first team breakthrough. The one area where his academy is failing is in attack. Benik Afobe has a big chance, but he's currently injured and not yet 18. Neil Banfield even had Rhys Murphy leading the line against Aston Villa reserves last week. The lad's a talent, but was trialling at Rangers only a few months ago.

So really, there can be no excuse for Wenger for not finding Van Persie a long-term strike-partner. Gervinho, at Premier League level, isn't a natural goal scorer and Marouane Chamakh simply hasn't lived up to expectations.

Henry, certainly, can play with Van Persie and for the next month the pair of them could produce fireworks. But it's a short-term fix and the lack of a long-term plan has left fans baffled.

The reaction at Liberty Stadium was disappointing, but also understandable. Gooners can see history repeating itself this season - and you get the feeling another campaign of courageous failure won't be enough just for them, but also the club captain.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say
  • Add your favourite leagues and clubs
  • Build your own personal news stream
  • Easily share your favourite stories
  • Connect with what your friends are saying

Select your favourite
leagues and clubs
to get started.

Already part of MyTribe?