Arsenal to sign Thierry Henry on loan?

Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry, may very well return to Arsenal once more this January.

Henry, who happens to be the all-time leading scorer for Arsenal, returned to his old club on loan last January during the Major League Soccer break. According to Arsene Wenger, Henry has trained with Arsenal three times now. When asked whether Wenger would sign Henry on loan again, he responded that he did not know yet, although he had not ruled it out. Wenger did add that the 35-year old striker was still looking sharp.

Henry scored twice in his seven appearances during last season’s loan. He scored the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup as well as scoring a classic extra time winner against Sunderland in the Premier League. Wenger signed Henry on loan last January due to winger Gervinho’s call up to international duty at the African Cup of Nations. Arsenal will be losing Gervinho once more, as they have decided to hold the African Cup of Nations two years in a row. Should Marouane Chamakh leave, Arsenal will find themselves short of strikers up top.

Henry has scored a total of 228 goals during his time at Arsenal and was recently honoured during Arsenal’s 125th anniversary celebration with a statue outside of the Emirates Stadium. The only other Arsenal player to have a statue erected in his honour was former captain, Tony Adams. During his time at Arsenal, Henry led the team to two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.

Wenger had nothing but good things to say about his former player, saying Henry’s return to the team would not only bring incredible skill to the field but invaluable experience to the squad. Wenger praised Henry’s communication and leadership qualities, claiming that he is a very intelligent person who would provide valuable advice to the team’s younger players.

Although Arsenal were recently in a slump, they seem to have rebounded with an emphatic 5-2 win over London rival, Tottenham, as well as securing Championship qualification with a 2-0 win over Montpellier. Although striker Olivier Giroud was not able to score against his former team, he did provide two assists and has finally come into form, having scored five goals in his last six games.

Wenger attributes Giroud’s late start due to the difficulty that new players have adjusting to the Premier League and the fact that he had to develop an understanding and comfort with his teammates. It took Giroud seven games to finally see the back of the net, and it is finally looking like he is regaining the confidence that saw him lead the French League in scoring last year with 21 goals. Per Mertesacker had similar problems adjusting last year, and has now become Arsenal’s most dependable defender. Mertesacker agreed that it took some time for him to settle at his new team, but he is now much more comfortable with the style with which Arsenal play.

After a string of poor performances, the last two wins should instil some confidence into the club going forward. They are currently sitting in sixth place with 19 points, nine points behind league leaders, Manchester City. Their next game is on November 24th against Aston Villa. If you want to see the outcome, be sure to purchase your Arsenal tickets today. Support your favourite team on the field.

Today’s guest post was brought to you by Matt Milstead.

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Last 16 achieved, top of group still possible – AFC

Mission accomplished, we are through to the last 16 in the champions league. There have been many big name scalps already so far in the competition and so our achievement carries more kudos. It hasn’t been pretty, after a good start to the group stages the games against Shalke did their best to derail our momentum and it was important that the team pulled together and ensured they ground out the results required to qualify from the group.

Although winning the group is out of our hands it is not an impossible feat; we have learnt in the past how important winning the group is when the last 16 draws have been made. Arsene has a tough decision to make in the final game as players in need of a rest could get a well-earned breather but if we were to take the foot off the gas and Shalke did lose their last game it would be a gutting feeling. We will see, plenty football to be played before the next group fixture.

On the game itself the first half seemed very nervy and flat. Although we didn’t seem to be under much threat from the Montpellier attack the impetus from our team with added home advantage was nonexistent. It was an easily forgettable half and one that had me feeling glad I was sat at home cosy watching on TV rather than witnessing it after parting with my hard earned cash and sitting in the cold November air. We went in at half time 0-0, there were a few grumbles from the home crowd however I will give them a benefit of the doubt they were grumpy from the weather.

The second half had a much better outcome and brought the crowd back to life and happier times. It took about 4 minutes into the second half when Jack Wilshere managed to flick the ball past the keeper after a nice knockdown from Olivier Giroud playing against his old club. That was jack’s first goal since returning to first team duty and you could see the joy on his face as he reeled away to celebrate. The goal clearly removed the weight off our shoulders since a win was the minimum requirement from this game.

Although the general team play didn’t improve too much from the first half the goal certainly raised the crowd and the atmosphere, the players started to grow into their play. About 12 or so minutes later we scored our second goal, and what a goal it was. Lukasz Podolski who was clearly up for this game had a couple of chances that didn’t go his way earlier in the game. It was only a matter of time before he made his mark in the game which he sure did. Giroud was again the provider lofting the ball into Podolski’s path just inside the box. Still with plenty to do the German unleashed a powerful volley into the back of the net that the keeper had no chance in saving. The quality and technique of the volley was reminiscent of a Robin Van Persie volley scored against Charlton a few years ago. It was a special goal which ensured applause all around. We had our cushion which made the result pretty much assured on the night.

The goal scored by Podolski is the exact type of goal that reminds us of why he is in the team, problem is when he isn’t scoring his contribution gets questioned. It was nice that he scored his goal, he looked dangerous all night and proved his worth to the team.

The rest of the game was played out with less urgency as we did what was required for the night, as expected Shalke made sure they gained three points from their game against Olympiacos and so our win was vital to ensure qualification from the group.

Some mini points from the game:

Long overdue clean sheet.

It was great for the defence to get a clean sheet last night. After all the plaudits from the early part of the season for our defence we went from shutting teams out to leaking goals at an alarming rate. I hope this is just the start of another prominent defensive run. Although comfortable against Montpellier there were still the odd moments where on another night we could have conceded. The important thing is the shut out will build the defenders confidence; as we all know football is all about confidence.

Giroud is becoming invaluable to our plans.

Olivier Giroud has started growing into the team, he now looks the part after a shaky start to his arsenal career. Even though he did not score yesterday he provided assists to both our goals by using his height and vision to set up his team mates. We now play to his strengths and the team is benefitting from this. Even if Thierry Henry does join us in January he will have a tough job getting in the team ahead of ironically our new number 12. Let’s hope the number 14 shirt isn’t vacant…

Injured players returning.

It was great to see Gervinho and Gibbs returning to the first team squad. Even though Gibbs didn’t get on the pitch his presence on the bench is enough to raise the spirits of the team and the fans. What we need now is strength in depth and options from the bench. The return of those two players will go a long way to boosting our fortunes. I suppose you can add Oxlade chamberlain to the list of returnees. Although he didn’t have the best of games, he is still finding his feet after injury himself.

Next up is Aston Villa on Saturday, the dreaded 17.30 kick off slot. Lets carry on the momentum from the past two games and get a result at Villa park.

Enjoy your day people

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Giroud is here, RVP not, Nasri to get what he deserves – AFC

We did it; we’ve completed our second signing of the close season with the acquisition of Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman, fresh from France’s elimination from Euro 2012 jetted into London Colney to complete his medical and final formalities of his transfer from Montpellier to the gunners. As is the Arsenal way the opportunity was taken for Olivier to complete a photo shoot, don the Arsenal red and white and give an exclusive interview discussing his transfer.

The transfer was no surprise to Arsenal fans after the deal was confirmed by the officials at Montpellier however there is no better confirmation than seeing the new man plastered across the official Arsenal website. He has definitely raised excitement amongst arsenal fans as we can’t wait to see what the new striker will be bringing to the Arsenal team.

YouTube must have been awash with searches for Olivier Giroud goal montages yesterday as interest in the new guy intensified. I for one had a look at the kind of goals he has scored for his previous club and what I witnessed was a variety of finishes. From deft touches over the keeper to rockets from the edge of the box, there was even an exquisite chip over the keeper with his right foot though that one may have been a bit of a fluke.

With all that aside Giroud gave his interviews, he doesn’t speak full English yet as everything was spoken in French and translated. He managed to say all the things we wanted to hear. It was interesting to hear him say that he has always dreamed since a kid to play in the premier league, I almost thought he was going to say Arsenal but he didn’t and I respect him for being honest rather than telling any fibs.

The French connection played a big part in the signing of Giroud as he admitted his admiration for Arsene Wenger and his legacy at the club. The striker told Arsenal.com:

 “I was attracted by the philosophy of football and Arsene Wenger’s ‘touch’ at this club”

he followed that up with:

“I have always admired Arsenal with its great history and reputation, and I now hope to achieve great things here”.

His admiration for Arsenal was certainly helped by the glowing reference received from former teammate Laurent Koscielny. The two players appeared close during their time together at Euro 2012 and the transfer can definitely be attributed to Koscielny’s work behind the scenes.

Wenger was complimentary talking of the striker:

“We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season”

“Olivier has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic”

All positives from our manager as he clearly believes in his £12m signing. The only question we have raised from the signing is whether Giroud would be a signing to compliment the talents of Robin Van Persie or to fill the void created by his departure.

It has gone all quiet on the news of our captain’s future, Netherlands were eliminated early and it was hoped this would lead to his negotiations being concluded sooner rather than later. Before the Euros he stated that he will not talk about his future until after the tournament, there has been nothing heard from the Dutchman since.

Understandably he has completed a long season and is entitled to have a holiday and his space. The silence though only succeeds in stirring up the paranoia amongst Arsenal fans as we crave word of whether he is staying or going. I really hope he is staying and the signings of Podolski and now Giroud exhibits the ambition for next season. M’Villa is still a possibility and I’m sure there is still an unknown gem on Arsene’s radar that none of us are aware of, time will tell on that front.

Good news on the Samir Nasri front. It seems the number one former player to really antagonize the arsenal fans since the disappearance of David Bentley is in hot water with the French Football Federation after his foul-mouthed tirade against a reporter in the aftermath of Frances exit from the Euros and his general disruptive behaviour throughout the tournament; the French men in power are not letting it slide.

The in fighting that disrupted the French morale after the defeat to Sweden which in effect conceded top spot of their qualifying group refused to die down and rumours surfaced that Nasri was the man instigator. This culminated in him being dropped from the line up against Spain and it was apparent to all watching the game that the French team did not look in harmony.

Because of this embarrassing exhibition the F.F.F has condemned his actions as intolerable and there is a threat he could be banned from international duty for 2 years.France has worked so hard over the past 2 years to wipe away the memories of the 2010 world cup and rebuild a united squad. Arsenal fans were so happy after that world cup that Nasri was cut from the final squad for the world cup because it meant he was not part of all the negativity and would start the season fresh for us. He did go on to have his best season for us the following season however I wouldn’t be surprised if he still happened to instigate the problems in South Africa from afar. That good season at arsenal only culminated in his ego expanding even further and that cantankerous move to Manchester city

He has always had a reputation for being a trouble maker and was reported to have an issue with Thierry Henry and William Gallas from even earlier in his France international career by disrespecting them over a seat in a coach.

I really hope the F.F.F really throw the book at him with the full 2 year ban, his disruptive behaviour destroyed France’s chances in Euro 2012 after looking so impressive in the opening 2 games. He showed his true colours to all and he deserves to be exposed for what he is.

Enjoy your day people

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Llorente linked, Giroud delivers, Djourou to consider future – AFC

The Arsenal rumour mill was in full effect last night with a new name added to the list of potential buys. Fernando Llorente according to sources from Spain claim that the Spanish international striker plans to hold a press conference on Tuesday to make an announcement. That announcement is heavily tipped to be that an agreement has been made between Athletic Bilbao and Arsenal for his signature.

Now if there is even a 1% chance that this rumour is true Llorente would not come cheap. His value would be upwards of £20million and that would throw up the idea that a signing of such a player would signal the fears that skipper Robin Van Persie could be on his way out.

The whole rumour could be the brain wave of the Spanish striker’s agent to create a ripple for potential contract negotiations with the club. I personally won’t get excited about this news until some more concrete proof becomes available. True or not true the alleged press conference on Tuesday should hopefully answer all the questions gunners fans may have. This is not the way Arsenal normally conduct transfers so do not have much hope.

In the midst of the Llorente rumours gunners fans had to chance to catch a glimpse of another striker recently linked to the Arsenal for the first time.France’s international friendly at home to Iceland had added interest given the fact it would be a chance to see Olivier Giroud in action. Although Giroud was not part of the starting line up he did not fail to impress when introduced to the field.

No goals for the striker but for a France team that was two goals down at half time Giroud certainly left a lasting impression on the game and on Arsenal fans thoughts of what could be. A neat one-two leading to an assist for Frank Ribery for the equalizer; then a cushioned header to set up Adil Rami for the winner in the last few minutes. Two assists, not a bad days work if you ask me.

In news closer to home Johan Djourou has been given advice from Switzerland manager Omar Hitzfeld that his international future was in threat due to his lack of game time at Arsenal. He was left out of the starting line up for Switzerland’s shock 5-3 victory over Germany as the Switzerland manager hinted that a move away from Arsenal may be his best option.

This is an awkward one for Johan to consider after the 2010/11 season where he established himself as a valuable member of the defence during Thomas Vermaelen’s extended lay off. The following season Djourou’s development if we’re all being honest actually stalled and quite possibly went backwards.

Starting from England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland last summer where Djourou’s performance was nothing short of embarrassing and so began the downward spiral of confidence from the Arsenal faithful in the abilities of the Swiss stopper. Onwards from that game Djourou’s performances in an Arsenal shirt have failed to reach the heights of the season before.

The previous seasons performances led to and improved contract extension (3 years I think) early last season. And it is here where the dilemma lies, the contract extension shows Arsene Wenger has faith in his abilities but the lack of game time also shows he has greater faith in other defenders at the club.

The ambition question comes up again; we questioned Jan Vertonghen’s ambition through his choice between Arsenal and Spurs. The same applies here; will Johan decide to move elsewhere to gain guaranteed 1st team football at a lesser club or stay and fight for a place at Arsenal and recapture the form from 2010/11 season? I believe he will stay and fight, the comments from Hitzfeld will not register too deep. International managers make these threats all the time, some players react most knuckle down and earn their way back into their managers plans. Besides, Arsenal doesn’t do non lucrative contracts. Expect Djourou in Arsenal colours next season.

Enjoy your day people