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Remembering Thierry Henry’s first season as Arsenal manager

Thierry Henry and Arsenal. A match made in heaven?

Inevitable.

As soon as Thierry Henry dipped his little toe in the management game it was only a matter of time until he made his way back to north London.

His journey took him via Belgium, where he was Sir Roberto Martinez’s assistant manager, and Ligue 1, where he saved Monaco from relegation on the final day of the season.

A beard even Nicolas Otamendi would be jealous of

PA:Empics Sport
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A beard even Nicolas Otamendi would be jealous of

Unai Emery’s infamous Arsenal Fan TV interview, in which he called Aaron Ramsey a money-grabbing b****** and said he’d offer out any Premier League manager that fancied it, saw the Spaniard part ways with the club at the end of the 2018/19 season.

When the candidates for the job were announced there was only ever going to be one winner. Unfortunately Mauricio Pochettino ruled himself out, so the job went to Henry.

On 1 June 2019, Henry marched through the doors at London Colney to claim what was rightfully his. Man United boss Arsene Wenger was in the crowd, looking like a proud father.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, mainly because someone at Arsenal had the bright idea of making French onion soup and insisted on Henry ceremonially chopping the onions.

Like father, like son

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Like father, like son

Henry’s first move in the transfer market was convincing Youri Tielemans to follow him to Arsenal.

The midfielder had been one of the few bright sparks of Monaco’s campaign, while he’d also worked under Henry at Belgium.

Talking Monaco into taking Callum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson in return was a masterstroke by Henry, with Arsenal Fan TV releasing an hour-long special documentary about the transfer.

Blimey

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Blimey

Fitting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette into the same team wasn’t a problem for the attack-minded Henry.

In fact he went one further and utilised Emile Smith Rowe and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a front four, with Mesut Ozil and Tielemans providing ‘protection’ in midfield.

Lucas Torreira was converted into a Javier Mascherano-esque centre-back, replacing Shkodran Mustafi at the back.

Heart attacks in the N7 area went down 69% as a result.

Can anyone here play centre-back?

Getty Images - Getty
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Can anyone here play centre-back?

Henry’s first season at Arsenal was nothing if not entertaining.

His side followed Man City in becoming the second team in Premier League history to break the 100-goal barrier during a season, although they conceded 66 times as a result.

Henry deserves credit for reinventing Ozil as a Pirlo-style deep-lying playmaker. It’s ironic that Ozil broke Henry’s record for Premier League assists in a single campaign while averaging less than 5km travelled per game.

Losing twice to Wenger’s United side was a low point, especially with Ramsey scoring against Arsenal in both games, but taking six points from the north London derby balanced it out.

Spurs just didn’t look the same without Real Madrid’s Harry Kane up front. It didn’t help that Daniel Levy was only signing players on free transfer as Spurs tried to pay off the Evian Bottlers Arena.

Iconic

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Iconic

Finishing third in the Premier League, behind City and Wolves, was enough to help Arsenal qualify for the newly-formed UEFA Money League, which was seen as a successful campaign amongst the supporters.

What will the second season hold for Henry?

How would we know? We can’t see into the future.


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