Saturday, June 23, 2007

Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday Saturday:
Thierry Henry, Arsenal: 1999-2007

The man, the myth, the legend.

A thousand thank yous for all the wonderful memories, Thierry.
Bonne Journee.


Moin said...

Not sure what to say, it's always tough when a legend leaves. I think Arsenal has enough talent to survive (having the best youth system in football is a good thing for a reason).

That said, what formation is Barca going to play next season if they keep everybody? Eto'o, Henry, Ronaldinho, Messi, Palacio, Deco, Xavi, Iniesta, and Puyol all have to start on talent/price alone. That's 2 defenders if you are counting. It's not possible (or just incredibly ballsy). Eto'o is gone, whether he likes it or not. Same with Deco. But they still need to drop one of the attackers in that group in favor of a defensive mid(and it seems like Palacio is going to be the one there). But is trading Henry for Eto'o for that lone-striker role up front an upgrade at this point?

DC Trojan said...

That's a good question, Moin. I've always thought that Henry is great but not opportunist enough - almost Dutch in scoring fabulous goals but not crap, scruffy ones. With that, you wouldn't think that he's a direct replacement for Eto'o.

Kanu, it's funny, even though I know that Henry has been a great player for Arsenal, I still feel like Bergkamp and Viera were more critical losses for defending and getting the ball forward... Arsenal play such a fantastic passing game that they could forgo someone with Henry's speed for more consistent scoring no matter how easy a shot... As long as they don't pick Michael Owen, though.

Moin said...

DC, I completely agree. Eto'o isn't exactly the most clinical finisher either, but at least he still finished most of them. The irony is Barca could both use a RVN and RM would most need a creator like Henry but they are going to the opposite teams. Seeing as how RVN succeed at RM, I still wouldn't put money against Henry. However, people didn't think a squad with Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Beckham, and Raul could lose either.

Solon said...


This is unlike the situations with Bergkamp (who retired from the club) and Vieira (who was quite clearly on the downside of his career when he left) in that it is entirely possible that Henry still has a couple of top-level years in him. In addition, he's such a good creator--he does have the single-season Prem record for assists--that I've long thought he could be as effective as Bergkamp was late in his career, even after TH14 had lost his pace. That is, as long as TH14's ego allows him to do so, which is debatable.

I really am looking forward to seeing how he fits in with that Barca team--they should be beautiful to watch.

I'm sort of all over the map on this one--he was a bit of a prima donna, and also a shit captain (the way he treated Reyes was an embarrassment for anyone, let alone a captain), but at the same time, he was as brilliant as anyone in the world when he was on song.

More distressing are his comments regarding AW. Even if they are true, it's a pretty fucked-up thing to say, since it's only going to destablize the club and upset the supporters even more than they already are.

Moin, it would seem to me that what Barca would do is play Eto'o centrally up front, Messi on the right, Henry on the left, and drop Ronaldhino a little further back. I'm guessing that R10 and TH14 might even sort of play interchangeably. That's just guessing off the top of my head--I certainly don't watch them nearly as much as you do.

moin said...


The problem with the formation you are suggesting is who do you play behind Ronaldinho then? In his first season at Barca, it was made obvious that not only is he incapable of doing any defensive work in midfield, the responsibility severely limits his effectiveness going forward. But look at the other midfielders Barca has: Deco, Iniesta, and Xavi, none of who are effective defensively. And don't think Rijkaard didn't try to play all 3 of them together as a unit behind Ronaldinho already this past season, (nicknamed D.I.X. midfield because all 3 players are really #10's). It ended in disaster as teams just phyiscally dominated Barca's midfield and none of them could defend at all.

Not just that, doing the math, that's 7 entirely offensive players and Barca has shown it has a need for one outright defensive midfielder in the mold of Makelele to be really clicking on all cylinders.

Also, Barca has already commitd 15M pounds to Boca for Palacio. Who is going to have to feature somehow (probably as a sub or something).

Of course, there is still a long time to go in this silly season and who knows what else might happen, Henry didn't break the bank at Barca, so they could conceivably go out and buy Milito or Heitinga or somebody.

As for Arsenal, I think as long as Wenger stays, things will be alright. I think Wenger has long prepared for this day. It would be foolish for him not to have done so. SAF was known to be able to, when asked during interviews, go through the entire ManUtd squad and list exactly how many years of quality service is left for each player and how much longer he is planning to keep them. It just shows that he was mentally prepared for any eventuality. I would be shocked if Wenger wasn't capable of the same thing and has already prepared for it.

Kanu said...

God Damnit Moin, you too? Stop with this "Makelele" role bullshit- he never was and never will be half the defensive midfielder that Vieira was/is, yet the entire world football media refer to it as the "Makelele" role as if he is some fucking untouchable God. SO please, around these parts, "The Vieira role" if you must. Unless you mean that they are looking to hire a midget...

Many thanks.

Moin said...

The thing is, Makelele and Vieira play 2 distinctively different roles. I agree with you 100% that Vieira is a better midfielder than Makelele. But "Makelele's role", to me, means a strictly defensive midfielder that isn't responsible for going forward, creating chance, or pivoting the offense. A midfielder that's sole job is to stay back, nip the opponent's counter-attacking before it starts, and once once the possession is won, make the simple pass to the creative players.

That's what I mean when I say a defensive midfielder in the role of Makelele. A purely defensive midfielder and Vieira doesn't fit into that at all. Vieira is much more attacking than Makelele was ever asked to be, much more like the Roy Keane/Edgard Davids type. Even on the French national team, when Makelele and Vieira partnered as defensive stalwarts, Makelele read the passing lanes and channeled the players towards Vieira, where he would phyiscally dominate and knock the opponent off the ball and take the ball forward into attack.

Quite frankly, Vieira would have trouble curbing his attacking instincts if placed on the Barca team, leaving the back four vulnerable to counters. Makelele wouldn't. That's why I think Makelele, despite being a lesser player than Vieira, would be a better fit for some teams.

moin said...

To convert the final unbelievers:

Solon said...

Moin--one of the more remarkable things about Vieira--not so much now, but when he was at his peak--is that he was damn near NEVER caught out of position due to one of his attacking runs. In other words, if he went forward, either he finished the move himself (with a shot), or completed the pass to someone in a position to make something happen (whenever he's playing in a high-profile match and they throw up those "pass-completion" stats, Vieira's are always amazing).

To be honest, as much as I loved watching Henry do his thing, there was really nothing more exciting than watching Vieira get the ball in space and move forward with it--whenever he did this, I always would say something like "Fuck, yeah, the spider!" because he would just sort of spring into life after assessing the situation for a second and then bound away with his long arms and legs flailing.

Keep in mind that Arsenal, at least, has always had plenty of goals from the midfield (not so much when they struggle, but otherwise), and Vieira only scored 29 times for them over 10 seasons, and probably a good number of those were headers off corners.

Part of what was so stunning about Pires stealing the ball off Vieira and starting the counter that led to Fabregas' goal against Juventus in the CL 1/4 in 2006--his forward run allowed Arsenal to take advantage of his lack of presence in the defense--something that is an exceedingly rare occurence (I remember Chelsea scoring once off a Vieira fuckup during the invincible season, that's the only other time I remember it happening--but that was in the first minute of the match, and because the ball was mishit, not because of a tactical error).

I think Kanu is saying that Vieira brings all the advantages of Makelele in defense, and none of the disadvantages of Makelele in offense.

Of course, I understand what you are saying--in some ways, the term "Makelele role" is a limiting one, since it doesn't account for the attacking prowess. But it's irritating to hear Makelele so often hyped as the prototypical defensive midfielder when, in my opinion, he's not even the best one on his current national team.

moin said...

Here's the thing, I do consider Makelele the prototypical defensive midfielder because I don't consider Vieira to be a defensive midfielder. Yes Vieira can be just as good as Makelele defensively, but the point remains that they don't play the same position, nor does it stop Makelele from being the best in his position. It's no reflection on Vieira's skills, just a product of the fact they play different positions.

Here's an (not very well thought out) analogy, is Henry a better player than Giggs? I think so. Would Henry be just as effective as Giggs on the wing? I believe so, not to mention the added scoring threat. But you know what? Giggs is still the prototypical winger for the last 10 years.

Your Pires tackle solidifies the point. Pires could not have done that to Makelele, not because Makelele is better, but because his role on the team would have never allowed him to make that run. There aren't many out there who plays in the role of Makelele, off th top of my head, I can only think of Gattuso, Abelda, and M. Diarra.

For the record, I think of Vieira as a "box-to-box" midfielder, like Keane, Gerrard, Essien, and Ballack.

el pichichi said...

My all-time favorite Arsenal player (after Tony Adams) going to my bitter Liga rival!!

I hope he plays well for Barca, except when playing against Real

Bon chance, mon ami!

Kanu said...


You are correct that they play a little different role, but everyone else besides you seem to not make that distinction. At the end of the day they are both holding midfielders, or defensive midfielders if you like; Vieira is no #10 midfield attacking maestro, he is the best defensive midfielder in the world {maybe was at this point}. The fact that he is also very talented about moving the team upfield, distributing, transitioning the team from defense to attack, and initiating offensive movements upfield just proves my point even more, because it shows that in addition to doing all of the things that Makelele does {shielding the defense, stopping the other teams attack, tackling & winning 50/50 balls}, he can also do all of those things I just listed above which frankly Makelele cannot do. This is why this whole "Makelele Role" nonsense infuriates me, because he is held up as some ideal or standard when he is not even half the player that Patrick Vieira, a defensive midfielder, is.

And sorry if my comment above seemed harsh to you, it sounds worse upon 2nd reading than I meant it- it was a vent on the whole world, not you personally.

Again, you are astute to point out the differences, but most people don't, they equate the "Makelele Role" with "defensive midfielder".

moin said...

No worries man, no offense taken at all. But you must realize that nobody values and appreciates Makelele's contribution to a team more than a Madrista. :D

But at this point, Vieira isn't even the best holding mid on his team anymore, Cambiasso is (another ex-RM player, worth mentioning).

Kanu said...

Yes, I'd say his best defensive midfielder in the world reign ended in 2005 {although he was France's best player at WC06}.

Personally I still rate him ahead of Cambiasso, but at the end of the day it really doesn't matter...

Anonymous said...

Quibble re: photo caption: it should be "Bonne Journee."

Kanu said...

Ahh, oui. Corrected.

Merci, anon., et bonne journee a toi aussi.

moin said...

Los Fantasticos: