I'm a fan of Arsenal Football Club. If you've read my blogs you'll know that. This season, we, Arsenal (like every true sports fan I've become one with my team), got off to a horrible start. Now, comfortably in fifth place in the English Premier League, and on a very good run of form since late September/early October we seem to be headed in the right direction as the season enters its second half.
In world football, January is the in-season transfer window. Players come and go and sometimes there are big signings and sometimes younger players go out on loan to other teams to gain valuable playing experience. So far, Arsenal has made just one signing. It's a two-month loan deal with Thierry Henry, arguably one of the best players ever to don a pair of studs and one of the best - if not THE best - player to have worn Arsenal kit. (He's definitley one of my favourites but I do have to admit that Denis Bergkamp and Pat Jennings rank higher than him in that regard. Sorry Thierry. I still love you. Haha.) This, you see, is Henry's second stint with Arsenal. He's the club's all-time leading goalscorer, having scored 226 goals, before his loan move.
Even though we're doing relatively well, we need to do better. Last Monday, we had an FA Cup match against Leeds United, a lower division team, and while we were dominating we could not break through and score. That is, until Henry came on as a substitute, received a sublime pass from Alex Song and, just like he'd down countless times before, trapped the ball and curled it deftly into the far corner of the goal. Final score: Arsenal 1 Leeds 0. I had a moment of hysterical celebration, falling off my sofa and pushing the coffee table forward to find myself sitting on the floor with my arms raised and screaming like I'd scored the goal. There was even a moment when I felt I might start bawling my eyes out. By the way, that goal takes Henry's Arsenal scoring tally to 227 and counting.
Henry's only going to be playing with Arsenal until around March or late February when he returns to the NY Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, America's professional football league, where he will likely finish his playing career. However, when Henry scored, there was an immediate feeling of hope that we will go on to win trophies this season the way we had when Henry was in his prime. It's, perhaps, a far reach and an unrealsitic one but watching him play again in Arsenal's red and white and scoring gave me that feeling. Feeling that we will go on to win everything - or even anything - may be just plain silly but I think Henry's experience and skill, which is still there, can lift his teammates' in addition to getting us some positive results on the pitch.
I've enjoyed this season so far, especially when we've played well and won. The next two months, though, I'll enjoy it for different reasons. With Henry back on the team, it's almost like running into an old friend. You reminisce about the old times and, as you're doing that, you create new times; things you'll reminisce about when you see each other after another long separation.
Our next match is on Sunday, away at Swansea. It's at 11am New York time and I'll be sitting on my sofa, probably wearing my Arsenal jersey, cheering my team and my old 'friend.'