So after my questioning of Hoyte’s long-term credentials, up he pops not only with a goal – as everyone points out, the first in the league by an Englishman for 16 months – but an all-round impressive performance. Good for him.
It’s worth remembering that he’s still learning his trade, and that he’s slowly getting better. But Tuesday was as easy a defensive job as he’ll probably have this season, and it’s the tough away games where he’s, perhaps understandably, looked shaky. But like I say – all anyone can ask of him is to improve, and over the course of this breakthrough season, he’s definitely done that.
How nice is it to have Henry back too? After a month out, he seems to have sorted his body and his head out, and in Tuesday’s game he was superb. Experience, pace, goalscoring prowess – he offers so much to our side, and to have three in-form strikers will make a massive difference to us.
He’s admitted that playing with his injury was something he should have addressed sooner – but his absence has been useful in other ways for Arsenal. It’s shown that Gilberto is a good captain, it’s shown that we can survive with Henry out the side and it’s allowed Ade Cool to come into his own. (Our record in his absence, out of interest, was W4 D3 L1).
In other news, it’s the phoney war before the lunacy of the tail-end of the transfer window. Wenger has sworn blind on so many occasions that we’re bringing nobody in that I’m inclined to believe him, so sales are more likely than purchases.
Aliadière is perhaps the most likely to leave. The Northern Echo says Boro have decided against him following his poor performance at Sheffield, but I suspect a deal taking him out of the club, whether permanently or on loan, will be done this month.
There’s an understandable amount of excitement about Anthony Stokes too, whose 16 goals in the SPL have made him hot property. His boss at Falkirk is waiting for the call from Wenger about extending his loan to the end of the season, and in Tuesday night’s programme Wenger stated that he will definitely “stay on loan for the rest of the season”, but without saying where.
“I feel it is better for his development if he can get a whole season experiencing first team football, rather than returning here and fight for his place, and not to play so many games”, said the boss.