#2 The return of a legend (2012)
There’s an old adage in life that says “never go back” – in a football sense, basically meaning that past glories can’t be repeated if a player returns to their old club. But in 2012, Arsenal fans were happy for that idea to be proven wrong when club legend and record scorer Thierry Henry returned to North London after nearly 5 years away, and despite being 34 years old, picked up right where he’d left off before his move to Barcelona.
Henry was brought back on an emergency loan deal from New York Red Bulls in January 2012 to provide cover for the absent Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh – both of whom were playing in the Africa Cup of Nations – and while the deal made sense for both parties (it gave the Frenchman a chance to play during the MLS off-season and meant Arsenal didn’t need to spend money on a new player) a lot of fans were cynical and felt that the legend’s return was nothing more than a marketing scam.
Those cynics were proven wrong, however, when Henry was brought on as a substitute in an FA Cup match against EFL Championship side Leeds United – and promptly scored the winning goal just 10 minutes later, sending the Emirates into raptures. It was Henry’s 227th goal for the club, re-affirming his spot as the Gunners’ greatest ever forward.
The Frenchman played a further 5 games during the loan period, eventually signing off with one more goal – a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 victory over Sunderland – before moving back to the US midway through February 2012. In the end, the move couldn’t have gone any better for Arsenal and Henry and it was the perfect way for him to end his career at the club.