The way I see it – Charlton Athletic v Arsenal

Last updated : 29 September 2006 By Jason Hogan

If, with a little leeway, I was offered a shot at using a maximum of two words as opposed to one to think of words I can associate Thierry Henry with, it wouldn't be too hard. Mind you, I must admit the words "London Bus" wouldn't have been two of them – until Tuesday night that is.

I can't remember the last time ANY Arsenal player scored with a header in two consecutive games, never mind our resident number 14 who, as we all know, is hardly known for his prowess in the air. As it was, that's exactly what Henry did against Porto the other night.

Just as was the case on Saturday against the Blades, the assist for Henry's goal came from young Eboue – and what an assist. Even now I am still getting flashbacks of that cross he put in and I still can't get over the fact that it was actually the same young lad who, before Saturday tended to deposit most of his attempted crosses into Row Z rather than the bonce of a team mate.

Still, mustn't grumble though. There is no better sight in football for me personally than to see early crosses swung into the box and the ball being dispatched into the onion bag in the manner that Henry did it. If we can continue to marry these qualities up with our usual pass and move football, well we could find ourselves in possession of a footballing formula more exciting that we already have – which is saying something - and that few can stand up to.

However, as much as I'm delighted with the fact that we have now won four games in a row and the last three without conceding a goal, the views I had at the start of the season have not changed one bit.

I told you all that we won't win the league this year for example because more than anything I don't think we are ready yet. I also said that in my view this season for us was not so much about winning the league but two questions – what did we learn from last years campaigns both home and abroad? And how much desire do we have as a group to improve on what we did in those respective campaigns?

In other words, what I want to see the Arsenal do ultimately above everything else by the end of the season is show all of our detractors (and more importantly prove to ourselves) that we are not a club in decline as some people are STILL suggesting.

A top three finish in the Premiership is definitely a viable prospect for us and given what we have done in the Champions League in recent times there is really no need for us to fear anyone out there whatsoever.

And it's with that in mind that my thoughts now turn to Le Boss. Like everyone else, I have often eulogised about the man in the past but in an era when football is arguably more cut-throat than it has ever been, the fact that Arsene has been the governor at the Arsenal for ten years, is exceptional in itself.

There really isn't an awful lot more I can say about the man than I haven't already said time and time again in the past though I must say that I would really love to see the Arsenal win the Champions League - not especially for the sake of the club, the team or even me as a fan but for Arsene himself. Winning that would stand as an indelible testament to him as a person, what he has done to transform this great club of ours and, perhaps more than anything, his whole philosophy on how the game of football should be played. If there is an ounce of justice in this world that dream will come true one day.

Now, it's to look forward to Saturday's trip to the Valley where the Gunners will face Charlton.

With one win from their opening six games, The Addicks have had a lean time of it at the start to the season. Last time out it was a case of what might have been as they were seen off by a rejuvenated Villa side at Villa Park.

It would have been interesting to see how things would have turned out if Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hadn't spurned a golden chance early on but by all accounts, Villa were always in control from the moment Gabriel Agbonlahor put them in front.

It all means that the spotlight has inevitably been trained well and truly on the Charlton boss, Iain Dowie not least in the wake of controversial and somewhat acrimonious departure from Crystal Palace.

I'm sure that Simon Jordan is probably sniggering to himself at the situation his former manager finds himself in but regardless of the right and wrongs of that particular situation between Dowie and Jordan, I think that it is wildly unfair that Dowie is the subject of speculation after six blooming games! It just the way of the world, I guess.

Still I think that there is enough ability within the set up at Charlton to turn their poor start around. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink maybe in the twilight of his career now but as the old saying the goes, you never lose it as a player no matter how old you get. Bryan Hughes and Mattie Holland are very capable performers in midfield on their day and Amdy Faye is also a capable holding player.

But obviously when you are talking about the clear and most obvious danger to Arsenal on Saturday, then you can't look too far beyond Darren Bent. Now I have to say that I had a huge amount of sympathy for this boy when he didn't even make it into the provisional squad for the World Cup in the summer.

I thought that was a disgrace. The boy scored more goals in the Premiership than any other Englishman and for my money, he should have been in the squad at the expense of both Defoe AND our own Theo Walcott.

The second season is always an interesting one for a player like Bent who bursts onto the scene and does as well as he has done. I hope for his sake (after Saturday that is) that he continues to progress, He is a lad with a fair old talent and I could really see him playing, with all due respect to Charlton, for one of the really big boys.

Arsene will take his team to the Valley with one or two defensive headaches to solve. William Gallas, who was inspirational for us in mid-week, picked up a rather untimely hamstring strain and there may be a question mark or two over Johan Djourou's fitness as well.

If push came to shove then I would put Gilberto in alongside Toure and keep you Hoyte (who I must say look far more assured against Porto, than in other games recently) at left back and then if we have to bring Alex Song to play Gilberto's holding role in midfield.

The Arsenal tend to do well in general down at the Valley when they go down there but I think that the Charlton players will be keen to put on a real show for their under-fire manager. So we will need to concentrate down there and make sure that the home crowd, who can be very passionate when they get going, do not have much to shout about. Let's hope that we are the ones doing all the shouting by the time the game is over.


It appears though I upset a certain someone by the name of Ben Kamara as a result of my article before the Porto game last week. Apparently, Master Kamara is the son no less of Chris Kamara, who of course is a member of the Sky Sports team. May I take this opportunity to state categorically that I am not in the business of expressing my dislike of anyone person at the drop of a hat.

However, whilst I still consider myself very much not to be a fan of your father, there are many alternative ways to express such an opinion. Therefore, given my understanding that you are a fellow Gooner and taking into account your natural instinct to defend your father's honour, I feel that I am a big enough person to acknowledge the fact that I may have been a little over zealous in the way I expressed my views.