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Arsenal 1-0 Leeds United: It Had To Happen

This needs to be a statue.
This needs to be a statue.

1-0 Henry 79'

Thierry Henry scored on his return as an Arsenal player to send Arsenal through to the 4th Round of the FA Cup. His goal was a flash of brilliance in a rather dull game, as Arsenal struggled to break down a very organised and defensive Leeds United side.

Arsenal started brightly, with Marouane Chamakh looking better in his first 5 minutes of 2012 than he did in the entirety of 2011. Unfortunately, he got no where near scoring, as he continually laid the ball off for others. Perhaps it was the sensible thing to do, and it is what he used to do at Bordeaux quite often, but he looks the shell of a player who was quite good at the beginning of his Arsenal career.

Sebastien Squillaci had the first chance of note, as he headed wide from an Arsenal corner when he was left unmarked. Arsenal, as they have so often in recent games, had lots of possession, and lots of corners, but lacked the cutting edge that has been so visible in recent weeks. They were further hampered when Francis Coquelin went off with a hamstring injury, though Nico Yennaris deputised very well. The problem for Arsenal wasn't the lack of width; both Miquel and Yennaris did well going forward; rather, it was the lack of penetration from the midfield. Alex Song was deeper, helping out Yennaris and Miquel, and while Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta both had solid games, they lacked the penetration of previous Arsenal midfields. This isn't to berate Aaron Ramsey, rather to highlight something. He's been thrust into Arsenal's lineup at the age of 20 (he just turned 21), and has been, unsurprisingly so, inconsistent. Tonight it seemed that he was too much like Mikel Arteta; lots of square passing, but not enough incisive passing. With Arsenal missing Gervinho and fullbacks, incisive passing is even more important than ever before, otherwise Arsenal will have more games like this. Ramsey was still very good, but at times Arsenal's play broke down at the edge of the box without any forward passing, or movement, and was redundant with both Arteta and Ramsey doing the same thing.

Arsenal started the second half brightly; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drove into the box before shooting wide, and then drove past the Leeds right back, before cutting back for Chamakh, who's layoff led to Arteta's shot being parried away the Leeds keeper. A mistake from the Leeds right back, Thompson, played Arshavin in behind, but his shot from a narrow angle was wide when he could've cut back for Ramsey. The impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain received a flick from Ramsey before driving a shot that was beaten away by Andy Lonergan.

The time had come, however, for the return of Henry. He came on for Chamakh, and was joined by Theo Walcott who replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain. 10 minutes later, the moment every Arsenal fan was waiting for arrived. From a throw in, Andrey Arshavin passed to Alex Song, who, as he has so much this season, made a brilliant pass for Henry, who had come inside of the right back. His first touch, to control, was brilliant; his second, to pass the ball into the back of the net in classic Henry style, was superb. If anyone doubted that Henry was finished, this goal proved them wrong. Never mind that it was against Leeds United; it was the touch, the movement and the finishing that made that goal.

Leeds finally came forward, and had one decent chance when Yennaris let Ross McCormack go, but his header was straight at Szczesny, and Arsenal were able to see the game out. Fittingly, the celebrations were all about Henry.

Isn't it obvious that Arsenal are just a one man team?