Robin van Persie may have picked up all the accolades but Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is fully aware that the impact of Thierry Henry’s loan spell midway through the season played an instrumental role in reviving the Gunners’ Premier League season.
In particular, Szczesny recalls Henry’s last-gasp match winner in the 2-1 win over Sunderland on February 11. The Gunners went on to win five of their next Premier League matches following that win.
Furthermore, when they returned to the Stadium of Light the following weekend for an FA Cup match, they were knocked out of the competition in the absence of Henry, who had already returned to the MLS.
Speaking of the FA Cup, Henry’s magical goal against Leeds in his first start since returning was also an unforgettable moment that Szczesny continued to relish even today.
“If you’re talking about turning points you have to give credit to one man, and I mean Thierry. When he came here, wow, it was something different. It was priceless to have someone around who’s been here, done it and was the best player in the world at one point,” Szczesny told the club’s official magazine.
The goalkeeper added: “When he scored the winner against Leeds, the buzz around the stadium was the biggest I’ve ever felt – and I think it had a big impact on the players too. Going into the dressing room afterwards and seeing everyone so happy for Thierry was a really big moment.
“Then, he scored the winner at Sunderland in his final game for us. That was the one that turned the season around in my opinion, coming back from 1-0 down and Thierry scoring at the end. Things like that give you confidence and simply put you in a better mood.”
The Gunners eventually leapfrogged bitter cross-town rivals Tottenham to finish third and seal automatic Champions League qualification. The fourth-place Spurs, meanwhile, had to settle for fourth and will now miss out on Europe’s most elite competition as the sixth-place Chelsea will take their place to defend the crown.