Arsenal - better off without Henry?
The next few weeks promise to be interesting times for Arsenal fans without Thierry Henry in the lineup. Henry has been without doubt the best player in the Premiership era. His touch, skill and mesmerizing goals have lit up the English league for so many years that I am astounded that he has not yet won the European or World Footballer of the year.
However, witnessing some recent perfomances from this young and exciting Arsenal team, you cannot help but wonder whether Henry is holding back Arsenal. The big games against United, Porto and Chelsea were all played without Henry and resulted in Arsenal's best results this season.
The Arsenal youngsters seem less inhibited when he is not around, they look less like a bunch of kids trying desperately to impress the most popular kid in the class and be his mate.
Adebayor in my mind is a perfect example of this. Adda put in a tireless and highly skillful perfomance on Sunday and did the same against United where he scored a wonderful goal. In short, he looked a completely different player than when he is paired with Henry and subjected to the big mans stares of despair and frustration with every misplaced pass. I saw a similar relationship between Henry and Jose Reyes, with Reyes never quite being allowed to impose his own character and learn by making mistakes in "Henry's" team.
Gilberto Silva seems to be a much better leader of the Arsenal youth. Unimposing, yet experienced and quietly vocal and with a very level head, Silva seems a natural leader - somthing I have never felt about Henry.
Add in to the mix that Henry does not seem to be quite the same player he has been in recent years - by all accounts his performance against Fulham was abysmal by anyones standards - and the fact that he is beginning to pick up injuries players his age tend to do, the question must be asked:
Are Arsenal better off without Thierry Henry?