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Thierry Henry must return to Arsenal to save Arsene Wenger from himself

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'But, soft! What light through yonder Emirates Stadium executive box breaks? It is the east, and Thierry Henry is the sun'. That goes some way to summing up how much Arsenal fans love their greatest ever goalscorer and talk of his return last week was welcomed about as much as it is possible to welcome something.

After being knocked out of their conference playoffs, New York Red Bulls were faced with the prospect of life without Thierry Henry in their ranks, as the Frenchman confirmed he would be leaving MLS this winter at the expiration of his contract.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stated he was "certain" his greatest son would at some point make a glorious return to north London and the place where his legend was created. After the events at Stoke on Saturday, the return of Henry to his old stomping ground cannot come soon enough for Wenger.

3-0 down at half time to the Potters was the result of possibly the worst 45 minutes of football played by a Wenger team in a very long time. That the Gunners blundered to concede a goal inside 30 seconds sums up the first half; hapless, spineless, naive.

Shortcomings were exposed for the umpteenth time by average opponents, it felt like deja vu all over again for the travelling supporters. Credit should be given to Stoke for a very accomplished performance, but let's not get too carried away, there is a reason why they have one of the worst home records in the Premier League - they're not world-beaters.

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Two second half goals hinted that a glorious comeback was on, but that was nipped in the bud by Calum Chambers' red card. It looked a harsh decision by referee Anthony Taylor, who had a very poor match overall, but was the result of the inexperienced defender being targeted by Peter Crouch.

Line Crossed?

What happened later on Saturday is perhaps the most shocking part of the whole sorry episode; video emerged online on Sunday showing Arsenal fans waiting for the team to board their train back to London from Stoke-on-Trent and directing boos and insults as Wenger waled past them.

That the Frenchman was subject to abuse is no great surprise, a small section of fans have been displeased with him for some time, but that they would hurl abuse at him at a public train station outside of the context of a football stadium was unsavoury.

Its explosion online after the game suggests Wenger is at a critical point in his career at the helm of the Gunners - he has never received such consistent vociferous criticism before and he cannot seem to get his team to click. Each passing disappointment ratchets up the discontent.

Wenger Untouchable

Arsene Wenger is the top dog at Arsenal, there is not one single doubt about that; he has the kind of job security even an undertaker would envy and it feels as though the only people voicing concerns about his performance are the fans.

Nobody at the club can touch Wenger in terms of achievements in the Premier League and his word would seem to be gospel around London Colney. So, perhaps it takes his greatest disciple to point out where he is going wrong.

It is easy for him to acknowledge but not process the cries of angry fans, pelters from the stands or on a train station are hardly going to be taken on board (boom, tish). But a man who was a serial winner and played a critical role in Wenger's greatest successes would, one hopes, have the confidence to put forward a differing view to the great man.

Conflict Must Be Welcomed

There is no guarantee of this, but reports of Henry being a sharp-minded student of the game, added to the fact we know he is more than happy to argue his case in most situations, mean there may be room for him to question - when all around you are ultimately doing your bidding, it's going to end in tears.

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain" is a pop reference and quite hammy line, but it has weight in this situation. Arsenal were treading water for a long time, but now they appear to be slipping away with the current now.

Wenger has a three-year contract but is running out of time to stop the end of his time in charge becoming a bitter and sour experience. That would be the greatest travesty of all; not the club missing out on the top four, but the man that made them one of the biggest clubs in the world being hounded out.

Last Chances

Henry may not be the solution, but he comes across as someone who is ready to fight his corner if he believes he has a point.

His return to Arsenal would be something special for fans and it could be critical for Wenger; not to save the team, but perhaps to give the great man a chance to save himself.

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Topics:
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal
Premier League
Football
Thierry Henry

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