Arsenal booked their place in the 4th round of the FA Cup and, unsurprisingly, it took a goal from the returning Thierry Henry to do it.
The Gunners started with Marouane Chamakh up front, his last game before the African Cup of Nations, with Arshavin and Oxlade-Chamberlain outside him.
In terms of possession Arsenal dominated the first half without really troubling the Leeds keeper. Andrei Arshavin should have scored early on but fired a shot high, Squillaci headed just wide from an Arteta free kick and Arteta also saw an effort go not far wide, but in general we looked a bit one-paced.
There was a blow around the half hour mark when Francis Coquelin pulled up with a hamstring injury. Arsenal full back problems continue and it’ll be a 2-3 week period before we see a fully erect Coq again. He was replaced by Nico Yennaris.
The second half was immediately better. Arsenal were a lot more creative, a lot more direct, and peppered the Leeds goal with shots. Longergan saved well from Arteta and The Ox while Arshavin really tried hard to make things happen. Not much did happen, to be fair, but unlike recent games you can’t accuse the Russian of not putting in a shift tonight.
With around 20 minutes to go Arsene sent on Theo Walcott for The Ox, and then, to rapturous applause, Henry made his comeback replacing the ineffectual Chamakh. His first contribution was to be caught offside but in the 80 minute he made his mark.
He picked up a pass from Alex Song, controlled it beautifully, opened up his body and finished in typical Henry style into the far corner. It was Hollywood stuff, Henry celebrated like a man possessed, thumping his chest and embracing Arsene Wenger, and it was hard not to feel a little emotional seeing it.
He showed that at 34 he’s still got the quality and while a Negative Nancy could go off on one about how much more he did than Chamakh, or how Park still can’t get a game, let’s not spoil a moment Arsenal fans should remenber for all the right reasons.
It was a beautiful thing, be glad you’ve seen it, enjoy the win, and let’s leave it at that.
The King is Back. Long live the king.