After the disappointment of the Sheffield United game it was nice to see a good response from the players as we murdered Charlton 4-0.
The main talking point teamwise was the return of Thierry Henry who returned up front, and as captain, after more than a month out. And it was Henry who gave us the lead. After a couple of early chances, including an Henry header which hit the post, Robin van Persie was pulled back by Osei Sankofa and Mike Riley pointed to the spot and gave the Charlton player a red card. Henry stroked home the penalty with ease, ran over to the sidelines, have a quick high five with Arsene Wenger and danced a little dance with Adebayor. Smiles all round.
The second came from an unlikely source. Again Henry was involved as he played a neat 1-2 with Justin Hoyte for the young full back to score his first ever Arsenal goal. So 2-0 at half-time.
In the second half it was all Arsenal and, without exaggeration, it could have been double figures but for Scott Carson who was hugely impressive in their goal.
He made a series of excellent saves, Rosicky hit the post, Henry had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside, he had another chance cleared off the line, Cesc forced some saves from him and it wasn’t until Diawara pulled down Henry for another penalty that we got the third.
Robin van Persie smashed it home and right before the end he slipped home his 5th goal in 4 games to make it 4-0. So we go back up into 4th place, leapfrogging Bolton, and we edge closer to Chelsea who dropped two points to Aston Villa.
It was nice to see Thierry Henry back though. He scored one, could have scored a couple more, set up Hoyte and generally looked rested and far more at ease than he has done for some time. People thought we’d struggle without him but we did well, really only missing him in the Sheffield United game, but there’s no doubt we’re a better side when a fit and happy Thierry Henry is in it. Whatever happened between he and Arsene has been dealt with by the manager and hopefully the team will see the benefit of it.
Robin van Persie continued his fine goalscoring run, hopefully putting to bed that myth that he’s just a scorer of great goals rather than a great goalscorer. He’s now our top scorer this season, he showed that he can work well with the captain too and Henry was quick to praise the Dutchman, saying:
He has the ability to be one of the best players in the league. He has matured a lot and he does stuff in training that I have rarely seen before.
I’ve always been a fan of Robin and it’s nice to see him improving. Like Henry, like van Basten, I think he’s got the potential to be a top, top player. And with regards Thierry the manager is happy to have him back and he feels that a fit and healthy Henry can make a big difference to the side. He says:
He is 100 percent but not 100 percent match fit. He is in a good frame of mind and has come back hungry and fresh. I am convinced you will see a great Thierry Henry from now until May. A good Thierry Henry can make a difference in the big games. We have a good spirit in the camp and the team is very united.
So, overall a good night’s work. Typically Alan Pardew had a good moan about the sending off although not one of his players objected and the former West Ham man was given plenty of stick by the home crowd which was nice to hear because I really can’t stand him. There was a perfunctory handshake between the two managers and I was really hoping Arsene would wipe his hand on his leg or something after having to touch Pardew but never mind.
Now we can go on an concentrate on the upcoming Liverpool cup games which are going to be a real challenge. More on those tomorrow and Friday though.
In a quick round-up of other stories William Gallas talks again about how he was disrespected by Chelsea and why he chose the number 10 shirt at Arsenal while Arturo Lupoli could move back to Italy during the transfer window.
Still, looking for your contributions for this week’s arsecast, see yesterday’s blog for more details on that, and finally, if you could see your way to going here to nominate Arseblog for the ‘Best sports blog’ in the annual Bloggie awards it’d be much appreciated. In the five years of Arseblog’s existence this is the first time that they’ve recognised sports blogs as worthy of an award so your help would be great.
And that’s that. More tomorrow.