Archive for May 28th, 2009

Congratulations Thierry Henry & Barcelona

Add comment May 28th, 2009

There’s nowhere to start other than the Champions League Final, which last night saw Thierry Henry finally claim the one medal that until now had eluded him.   It was odd watching Henry triumph for Barcelona – the side who denied him, and indeed us all, a momentous victory in the same competition in 2006.

That night, reeling from the pain of defeat and the memory of two missed chances (warning: distressing video), Henry declared his intention to remain at Arsenal and reject the overtures of the conquering Barca side.  it was a tremendous moment for our club, but gave false hope – Henry was never the same player again, and realising that he might wait a long time to win prizes again at Arsenal, he moved to Barcelona just one year later for a cut-price £14m.

The first season was difficult – Henry’s sciatica held him back and it looked as if he might have begun an irretrievable decline.  But last Summer new manager Josep Guardiola convinced Henry to stay, and in doing so created arguably the greatest attacking trio in living memory alongside Samuel Eto’o and the imperious Lionel Messi.  Those forwards are the beneficiaries of a quite incredible midfield, conducted by Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.  This season they have dominated the Spanish scene, and last night that midfield’s dominance over United ensured their completion of a historic treble.

I was pleased for Henry, who can now add the Champions League to a trophy haul which includes the World Cup, European Championships, Premiership, La Liga, Ligue 1, as well as the major cups in Spain, England and France and also the domestic league and cup double in all three countries.  On top of that he’s the all-time top goalscorer for both France and Arsenal – it’s only a shame that at his peak he had to compete for the World Player of the Year with the likes of Zidane and Ronaldinho.

I was glad for Sylvinho too, who performed admirably and was visibly moved by his team’s success.

I’m not a Barcelona fan, but as the above probably makes clear I’m a huge fan of the football that they play.  Last night, the pundits on Sky alluded to Barcelona as being the model for the side Arsene Wenger is attempting to build at Arsenal – a theme continued by this piece on Guardian Unlimited.

Whilst emulating Barcelona’s formation would not be the worst idea, at the moment the gulf between the two sides is enormous.  The area of the pitch in which this is most apparent is central midfield, where Arsenal do not have a functional unit to compare with that of Barcelona.  Although he played in defence last night, it does grate a little to see Yaya Toure, a man who I once saw take to the field in an Arsenal kit at Underhill, being the defensive lynchpin in the best midfield trio in World football.  Alas.

In other news, both Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs have been named in the U-21 squad for the European Championships.  Many will complain, but I won’t, as it gives me something to watch and then write about this Summer…

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