Date: 24th November 2006 at 8:54pm
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This is becoming something of a recurring theme is it not? The day before a crucial away match, a game certain to be a pitched battle, the news filters through that Henry has a niggling injury. But rest assured, he’ll be back for the next game down South.

As conspiracy theorists go, I’ll confess, I’m up there with the biggest of them. 9/11, Malcolm X, Princess Diana, I’ve got a thory for everything. I’ve a feeling this particular strand will attract for spleen than the aforementioned!

Thierry Henry has suffered taunts from dissenting voices that when the going gets tough, le huff gets going. His scoring record in away matches in recent years has been paltry at best. He has scored four goals North of Birmingham since Euro 2004- two of them free kicks. For a scorer of his peerless frequency, that is a pretty poor record. He has scored once at Anfield (a penalty), once at Old Trafford (in a 6-1 reverse), once at St. James’s Park, once at White Hart Lane, twice at Stamford Bridge and he has never scored at the Reebok Stadium in his Arsenal career. These statistics cannot be dismissed as coincidence, they point to something, a psychological embargo. Even more astonishing is that having participated in 3 F.A Cup Finals, 1 UEFA Cup Final, 1 Champions League Final and a World Cup Final- he has never registered on the scoresheet.

With these patterns becoming more engrained on the general psyche, Henry’s attendance at fixtures such as these has become worryingly fitful. In October of last year, having recovered from a calf injury, Henry played in a home match against Manchester City. The following week, with Arsenal bereft of an away victory all season, he left his young side to twist in the wind for an encounter at White Hart Lane as he declared himself unfit to play. Much to my astonishment, he decided he was fit to play in a dead rubber encounter at home to Sparta Praha. I know which game I would prefer to have the captain and top scorer for. Frequently in the last five seasons, games at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and the Reebok are cried off, only for him to return for the next encounter against relegation fodder. Earlier this campaign, with Arsenal without a victory all season, he was again on the treatment table for crucial away matches at Hamburg and Man USA. Naturally, he was on fie for the following the following weekend’s nutcracker at home to Sheffield United!

Now is it me, or am I detecting a disturbing pattern here as he is confirmed missing for our perrenial bogey side Bolton? Of course le boss assures us he will be as right as rain for the midweek saunter down the Thames to Fulham. Many of you may claim that Wenger is protecting TH with crucial games on the horizon. But I don’t buy this for a number of reasons. Firstly, with van Persie suspended on Saturday, why would Wenger leave us so short of strikig options. Particularly as he will be back for the Fulham game, surely it would make more sense to rest him then? Secondly, he was rested very recently and is suspendedfor the trip to Porto.

Henry’s attendance at home games tells a more revealing story. He has missed four home games since 2004/05, and scored in a sizeable chunk of them. Does this reveal a fundamental dishonesty? That he plays and performs and scores so regularly at home, but is impervious to away fixtures? Away from the adulation of the majority, the small number of us that travel to every away game are subjected to his insipid performances, or his temporary absences? Can ALL of this really be put down to coincidence? Now I am acutely aware of this guy’s talent and contribution to our club over the last seven years, and I was delighted when he signed a new deal. But I do not owe him some kind of religious quiescence because he put pen to paper. If I think an Arsenal player is not pulling his weight, I will say so, regardless of talent or anything else. There is a line written by a favourite rapper of mine, #We are all judged by the same standards, saints, gangsters, to base heads in St. Pancras.# Until Thierry begins to exhibit less apathy towards away fixtures (particularly those in the North), I will continue to make this point. Before anybody wishes to graffiti the forum with, ‘what sort of supporter are you?’ I will preface with this, the kind that is going to Bolton tomorrow.


32 Replies to “Bottle Neck?”

  • His performances away from home may not be the best (Although you fail to mention his goals v Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Roma & personally I though he was excellent in the CL final. He may not travel well, but to suggest that he cries off in the big games on purpose is a tad below the belt. It could well be psycological but intentional?? never. While we’re on the subject, I wouldn’t consider Bolton a big game…..just an akward one.

  • True, although he does miss many games away, esspecially Manchester United etc, hopefully he can start coming to more soon.

  • That’s the thing though, his CL away goals ratio is so much better because the games are so much less physical. I think that there is just too much of a pattern to ignore. Henry asked for more from us, and he was right, but now I ask more of him. We all know what he can do, I’d just like to see him make the difference in a tough away game. I was planning on watching him closely tomorrow to ascertain whether this facet of his game had improved, but I won’t get a chance.

  • I guess to gain a true reflection and insight we’d have to view him from close quarters in all his away games. Just because he hasn’t scored doesn’t mean he hasn’t played well.

  • Another thing you have to take into consideration is the tactics he faces away from home. He is very closely marked and sometimes doubled up on. Of course it’s going to be more difficult for him away from home. I think it would be interesting to see all the current world top strikers statistics, I’m betting they wouldn’t be much different.

  • Rocky, given your standing in the league I would suggest that every game is a BIG one, and besides, what do you expect from someone who not only wears gloves during the match, but afterwards in the warm interview zone?

  • Standing in the league? We havent finished outside the top four in ten years. Come back and talk to me about league standing when you’ve actually done something over a susstained period. Sheesh – Give a club 300 million to spend and two finishes in the top four and they think they’re world beaters.

  • I can tell you, he’s played very poorly. The thing is about the CL goals is that he has proved he can rip apart the world’s best defences, so why not Bolton, Blackburn, City? I’ve said time and time again that the only player that can stop Henry is Henry. He faces much more negative tactics at home games, but generally turns up. I guess I’d really just like to get in his head at times.

  • The team as a whole face more negative tactics as a whole, but away from home Henry always seems to get marked out of the game.

  • While I agree that he is nowhere near as good away from home as he should be I would like to add to Rocky’s comment about being double marked. When team puts two defenders on Henry he tends to try and drop deeper or push out wide, this works when there is space but teams know Henry and they know that if you deny him space to act then he is no longer Henry. it’s not like RvN who likes to pick up tips bits, Henry likes to run at players and use space. In short – deny Henry space and you deny Arsenal of Henry.

  • But he faces these at home as well. The thing is that I can see this guy’s talent, and this does not explain the HUGE shortfall in away goals compared to home. I’m sure every striker on earth scores more at home than away, but less than ten in three years bears more explanation than that. Having seen his demeanour away from home, there is definitely something in his head.

  • He clearly does have something of a hoodoo away from home but I think a lot of it is down to what I said before. Every team is more comfortable at home (except us maybe) and therefore they will do a better job f any given task.

  • yeh, i dont think henry fancied going to the reebok at all, i doubt hes injured. I have been saying this for a while now, when he missed the old trafford game this seaosn again it got me thinking.

    o wellz, well have to go with the beat and adebayor up front.

  • maybe phycologically he gets effected by the surroundings of some of these away towns and cities he has to travel to,sitting on the bus driving though some of these places would hardly put you in high sprits and make you appreciate the joy of life,no matter how much frankies you earn a week.

  • Why is it when i`ve gone to some of these named places above ì keep humming Wonderful world by Louis Armstrong?

  • what a load of nonsense. and you call yourself fans. You really think he would fake injury to miss a match ? pathetic

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