The Return of King Henry

Posted on August 4th, 2011 at 4:54 AM

Last weekend saw the Emirates Stadium host it's first games of the 2011/2012 season and what better way to kick it off than with the return or Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry. Surprisingly this year was my first year attending the Emirates Cup, in the past holidays have always been in the way so I've missed it. This year I new I'd be free so didn't hand around and got the tickets booked up on day of release to have the best choice of seats for both days! On the Saturday I was block 2, row 17 near the NYRB bench and then on the Sunday in the upper tier above block 2 and row 5, which gave the best view of the pitch I've had to date .. if only they were my seats every week! We arrived early on the Saturday, around 12.30pm to get a good few beers and hot dogs in before the first game and allow time to show my mate around, he's more of a rugby fan and took me to Twickenham a few weeks back to watch the sevens so I thought it only right to show him a decent stadium ;) Although being allowed to drink pints whilst in the stands at Twickenham is most certainly a plus point. The first day of the tournament saw New York Red Bulls beat a lusterless Paris Saint Germain side 1-0 to pick up 3 points, Henry had been cheered by the Arsenal fans as he sneaked out of the tunnel to the NYRB bench to quietly watch the game but take no part and save himself for the Sunday encounter. The next match of the day saw Arsenal's first home performance of the season and the players and team got a great reception upon appearance from the tunnel to line up against Argentine side Boca Juniors. By this point we'd gone for a wander around the stadium and found some seats in the upper tier alongside some Boca fans .. South American female football fans, need I say anymore? This behavior was only acceptable due to the 'friendly' nature of the game ;) Arsenal started off well and new boy Gervinho once again showed promise accelerating down the left wing to provide a low front post cross for Robin Van Persie to finish and give us an early 1-0 lead. From what I've seen of Gervinho in Arsenal colours so far he's looked extremely promising, 2 goals and 1 assist in almost as many games, certainly one for the fantasy league teams if he keeps this form up. The next goal came after half time when an Arsenal attack and run by Vela saw a chance open up for Ramsey to shoot, he did with power across the keeper and it sailed into the net, 2-0 Arsenal. At this point in the game Wenger made 5 changes to rest players and give others a chance to impress, from here on the game kind of lost it's pace with the amount of changes and it's fair to say players loose concentration etc in a game with so many subs. Boca Juniors created some chances and got back into the game when Viatri was allowed a shot on goal after Djourou failed to stay tight enough, it's pretty harsh to put any blame on Mannone as the shot was very close but some better defense positioning may have helped prevent it. The goal helped Boca's confidence and they continued their attack with a run down the right wing, Traore didn't manage to take control of the situation which allowed a Boca cross to find a player who could put in Mouche, Djourou tried to tackle but kind of fell over the ball allowing Mouche in on goal to score quite easily .. definitely the kind of scenario you'd have expect to see towards the end of last season, not very reassuring at all to be brutally honest. The game finished 2-2 which was a slight disappointment but it's only pre season so hopefully it helped highlight any issues that Mr Wenger may need to take a look at .. (cough defense) I had originally planned to stay the night in London but in the end it cost too much and I just decided a 50 minute train journey was an easier option! I awoke on the Sunday morning ready for another day of Emirates action, this time I had 6 friends also going with me so there was way more organizing and calls between everyone to ensure meeting points were sorted etc etc (you may have actually seen 6 of us sitting on the wall outside gate A waiting for the one late person, there's always one). After everyone had eventually found one another we made our way to the row 5 seats in the upper tier almost on the halfway line ... The first game on the Sunday was between Paris Saint Germain and Boca Juniors, it was a real attacking game and felt like both teams were going for it with end to end chances, really entertaining to watch and a massive improvement on PSG's first performance, due to this they scored three and won the game. It meant Arsenal only needed to beat The New York Red Bulls in the final game to gain their first silverware of the season! The game with Arsenal and The New York Red Bulls began and ex Arsenal legend Thierry Henry captained the New York side, as expected he received a rapturous reception on his second return to the Emirates throughout the warm up and match. After the game it became apparent that Thierry and Wenger had tried to sort out an arrangement so Thierry could play 5 minutes for the Arsenal side but the strict match officials with their copious rules and regulations did not and could not allow this due to FIFA legislation, spoil sports. The first real chance of the game came to Aaron Ramsey but as he'd scored in the first day he must have felt obliged to hammer it into row Z .. don't want to be too greedy in pre season! The next bit of action in the game had me thinking I was hallucinating as we actually scored from a set piece!! Tomas Rosicky floated a set piece into the box and Van Persie was there to head in and take the lead, 2 goals in 2 games, Premier League top scorer right there, you heard it here first. Unfortunately the equalizing Red Bulls goal was not scored by Thierry Henry although the assist was by him so the draw didn't feel too bad, as The Red Bulls had managed to win their first game and draw the second they finished top of the group and won this seasons Emirates Cup, their captain Thierry lifted the trophy and many Gunners like myself stayed to watch him to do a lap of honor with Arsenal scarves thrown by some fans wrapped around his neck. Sadly the Emirates is no longer his home but we'll welcome you back anytime in the future Henry, Arsenal legend! All in all a great but tiring first weekend of Emirates football, sadly it was a pretty hectic weekend so didn't see many of you Gunners but my next game will be Swansea home so hopefully see some more of you around then!

Written by Dan

Share the article