Arsenal have one unique option in their search for a striker in January, their record goalscorer.
The Return of the King - Part II. Is it on?
The way Thierry Henry left Arsenal in February will have left a bitter taste in his mouth after a largely successful loan return.
His final game was the 4-0 mauling in the San Siro away to AC Milan, with Arsenal pilloried by all observers for their non-performance.
It was a shame for the Frenchman, because before that he had contributed three goals, two vital ones, as part of a memorable and emotional return.
Fans who were at the Emirates for his comeback game in January in the FA Cup against Leeds will never forget the experience, with the match petering out at 0-0, Henry came off the bench to lose his marker and curl in a trademark winning goal. The King was back.
After that it was a little slower going, Arsenal were in the midst of a defensive injury crisis with both full-back positions causing major trouble, and he even got in an argument with a supporter as the Gunners went down 3-2 away to Swansea.
He then suffered a calf worry ahead of the glamour game at home to Manchester United, and Arsene Wenger could not afford to risk him, given the insurance money the club would have had to pay the New York Red Bulls had the striker inflamed the injury. The Gunners lost 2-1.
He would return to score a goal in the 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn, and his parting gift was a decisive winner in the 90th minute away to an in-form Sunderland. The goal and three points would prove crucial in helping Arsenal narrowly beat Spurs to third place in the Premier League.
So while his time was mixed, what the Frenchman did contribute was a demonstration that he can still cut it in the Premier League, and in fact it seemed like he even surprised himself how quickly he re-adapted, and regretted the fact he had to head back to America, even if he did not openly admit it.
Both player and manager left the door open for a potential return this January. Speaking as recently as July he said: "I would like to go back to England with Arsenal for sure. I wasn't planning to go back to play last season. I was there to train and they asked me if I wanted to play. Who knows what might happen in the future?"
Arsenal's need for another striker is well-documented, and Gervinho will again depart for the African Nations Cup in 2013. The reason he was available for loan was the MLS off-season, and a return to Europe has been a regular way of keeping fit for top stars, as seen with Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and even David Beckham who had a spell at AC Milan.
Henry will need to do the same, and it seems impossible he would go to train at any other club, the question is simply whether Arsene Wenger would seek to register him as a player once again and use him in a similar way to last season.
If there are worries over Henry's skill level at 34, there shouldn't be. This wondergoal he scored this season for the New York Red Bulls was quite special...
So would Henry coming back be a good thing for Arsenal? It should be, so long as Arsene Wenger does not use it as an excuse to spent frugally. Arsenal fans expect a striker to be signed permanently, with Huntelaar, Ba, and Llorente among those linked.
Fans would love to see Henry wear an Arsenal shirt one more time; this is probably his final chance to do so, but supporters would and should not let the emotion of their hero coming back for just one month over a bona fide top star. Sign a striker and let Henry come in for a month and everyone will be happy, but bring the Frenchman in and fail to sign anyone permanently, and it will be seen as simply penny pinching by the board.
Would you like to see Henry back in January?
image: © marklunch1