Former Arsenal boss: Henry and Van Persie can be lethal together
But Frenchman should be on bench again on Sunday, says ex-Gunners manager and player Terry Neill
Returning hero Thierry Henry could form a lethal partnership with Robin van Persie in a dream attack at Swansea on Sunday afternoon, says former Arsenal manager Terry Neill.
Neill believes Arsene Wenger will wait as long as possible to make a decision, despite the inevitable clamour to hand Henry his first start in red and white for nearly five years.
“It will be very interesting to see what Arsene does – and if he brings Robin back,” says Neill ahead of Arsenal’s first league visit to South Wales for almost 30 years.
“I mean, of course I’m sure Robin will return, but it gives Arsene a nice option after Thierry’s goal on Monday – you wonder how his attack will look, although Thierry has to be fit enough to start.
“He definitely showed he still has something to offer and can be an asset over the next few weeks before he returns to the United States.
“It was a great pass by Alex Song and he took his chance very well. But Robin has been magnificent for the past year or so and is very much the main man at the club.
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“Who is to say the pair won’t start together? They can certainly play together because great players can easily fit in around each other – and these two are great players.”
But Neill has a hunch Henry may be used from the bench despite the inconsistent form of other attacking players such as Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin.
“I am inclined to think he will be a substitute again on Sunday, but it depends on many things, such as who in the squad is tired. But if he did start Thierry with Robin, what harm could it do?”
Neill is relishing Arsenal’s clash with fellow Northern Irishman Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea side, who have made a big impression with their attractive passing game but could easily have gone out of business.
“Theirs is a remarkable story and gives us all hope. You have to have a dream and – as hackneyed as it sounds – if you don’t have a dream, how can a dream come true? Just ask Swansea fans,” adds Neill. “Ten years ago they nearly went under – the club had no money and were bottom of the old fourth division. Now they are in the Premier League, playing great football and filling a brand new stadium – dreams can come true.
“We all like the underdog and so it is delightful to see a club who were on the ropes not so long ago but who are now thriving.”
Neill masterminded Arsenal’s last league win in South Wales – a 2-1 victory at the old Vetch Field in November 1982 – but the Gunners only lead the Swans 3-2 in games won in the five league encounters the two sides have played against each other.
Neill recalls a 2-0 loss at Swansea in October 1981 for his side – not that he was there.
“I remember it well because I was a thousand miles away in Portugal. I was tired and had barely had a rest so the chairman Denis Hill-Wood insisted I take a short break. I left Don Howe in charge of the first team,” he said.
“John Toshack was the Swansea manager and they were doing well. We lost 2-0 and I had an awful time – I didn’t stop fidgeting the whole time I was in Portugal with my wife. I never went away again!”