Sunderland 1, Arsenal 2: King Thierry Henry Gives Arsenal a Befitting Parting Gift
“With probably half an hour left in today’s tie, Thierry Henry will be given a chance to play in the Premier League for the last time in his glittering career.”
“What I’ll give to see a Henry goal today?”
The Premier League fixtures played yesterday were certainly going to play a big role in the coming weeks as teams with certain expectations came out with results that aided their various causes. From the lunch break fixture, Luis Suarez’ consolation goal would have made a lot of sense if it deflected off Patrice Evra not Rio Ferdnand but the Red Devils had the last laugh as a Rooney double was enough to hand them all three points.
Arsenal doesn’t really give two hoots about the potential winners of the Premier League for this season at least, but all eyes were firmly fixed on the fixtures of teams vying for that final Champions League spot and team’s within Arsenal’s proximity on the log table.
Liverpool lost more ground courtesy of their loss to the Champ19ns, Everton gave Andre Villas-Boa Constrictor team the “blues” and Newcastle was whitewashed by a rampant Tottenham Hotspurs. As annoying as this may sound, Emmanuel Greedybayor had a stormer for Arsenal’s fierce rivals.
Arsene Wenger started with the same side that ran riot against Blackburn against a resurgent Sunderland stringed by the great puppeteer Martin O’ Neill. The pitch was in an atrocious state and the first half was rather uneventful with the major talking points being various penalty appeals from the home crowd.
The game sprang into life in the second half when Craig Gardner fired two goal-bound stunning efforts that brought out the best in Wojciech Szczesny. Both sides battled valiantly in midfield but the match’s opener came courtesy of a rather unfortunate event.
Alex Song was caught in possession and a counter attack launched by the Black Cats was superbly intercepted by Bacary Sagna. The Frenchman fed the ball to Per Mertesacker’s path but the defender suffered a somewhat mysterious ankle injury causing the gentle giant to hit the turf like a sack of potatoes. James McClean made the most of the gift by smashing the ball past Szczesny in goal.
It was reminiscent of the incident that occurred in the Spring of 2006 when Arsenal faced Tottenham at Highbury. Farmer Emmanuel Eboue suffered an injury but the Spuds didn’t apply any form of sportsmanship as Robbie Keane got on the end of a cross to put the visitors ahead. Thierry Henry came from the bench to save that tie for Arsenal and he replicated the feat six years later.
Aaron Ramsey came on for the injured Mertesacker and levelled the tie with a well-struck effort that hit both posts before crossing the line. While the Gunners basked in the euphoria of an equalizer, everybody has to be on the lookout for the news headlines because for some strange reason, a prominent world figure dies when Aaron Ramsey scores.
At some point, it seemed as if Sunderland was content with a draw and defended deep as Arsenal looked like the hungrier side that wanted all three points. Arsene Wenger had previously brought on legend Thierry Henry for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but the manager’s last ace in the deck turned out to be Arsenal’s scapegoat Andrey Arshavin.
With a few minutes to spare, Thomas Vermaelen found Arshavin on the left; the diminutive Russian had a few touches before swinging a cross into Sunderland’s danger area to an unmarked Henry that slotted his effort home with consummate ease.
The goal celebration had the Thierry Henry va va voom swagger about it and the Gooners were sent into raptures. At the sound of the ref’s whistle, Arsenal was sitting pretty in the “Promised Land” by virtue of goal difference though.
Szczesny (8.0) made some absolutely vital saves that kept Arsenal in the match.
Sagna (7.5) marauded the right flank well, balancing his offensive play with his defensive duties.
Mertesacker (6.5) almost conceded a penalty and was unfortunate to suffer an injury when he was finding his feet in Arsenal’s defense.
Koscielny (7.5) put up another confident performance in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.
Vermaelen (7.0) put up a good shift down the right.
Song (6.5) was sloppy in midfield and had a hand in Sunderland’s goal.
Rosicky (9.0) certainly my Man of the Match. He was ubiquitous in midfield and he orchestrated the affairs of the pitch like the Little Mozart we bought from Dortmund six years ago.
Arteta (8.0) got his balance right and he had a ricocheted effort that was dispatched home by Aaron Ramsey.
Walcott (6.0) had a stinker on the right wing. The forward that was on fire last week had a poor outing even by his below-par standards.
Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.5) was direct with his running but he struggled a bit with Sunderland’s physical defense line.
Van Persie (6.5) was a bit caged but he still had a hand in Arsenal’s equalizer with his cushioned pass to Arteta.
Ramsey (7.5) scored a goal that restored belief to his team mates.
Arshavin (7.0) supplied the match winning assist despite being on the pitch for barely five minutes or so.
Henry (8.0) rubbed his experience and influence on his team mates and scored the goal that propelled his team to fourth place.
The manager that has made 50,000 substitutions in his career made three that came up with the goods for his team. Arsene Wenger has expressed his desire for Thierry Henry to stay a bit longer but it’s not going happen. While Chelsea blew away £50m last January for a misfiring forward, Arsenal loaned a 34-year old legend that currently has the same number of league goals with the blanks shooter this season.
King Thierry Henry,
Thanks for the befitting parting gift.
….For those that do not know, Aaron Ramsey scored yesterday, another prominent figurehead Whitney Houston dies. Freaky
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