Arsenal supporters will sooner or later have to contemplate life without Henry. Barca or Inter are ready to swoop down and spirit one of the defining strikers in club history and in the world. A question that should cause some to have sleepless nights. Can Arsenal retain its winning ways without Henry and win enough to challenge for the title? So here is a bit of an insight.
Thierry Henry's injury plagued season resulted in a truncated 17 appearances but he still netted 10 goals. In those appearances, Arsenal won 9 times, drew 5, and lost 3. Without him, Arsenal won 10 matches, drew 6, and lost 5 for a GD of + 9. So the short of it, the club was not exactly overwhelmed by his absence. But the story is different when both Henry and Van Persie were missing. In 12 matches without the duo, Arsenal managed 5 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws and had a GD of zero. In other words, Arsenal was reduced to an also ran team without them. There was some modicum of success against Reading and Aston Villa minus the duo but Arsenal went through some of their most humiliating losses during this stretch.
However it gets interesting in the absence of Henry. He was injured all of December and January. In that time, Arsenal had one of its most productive spells. In those 7 matches, Arsenal won 4, drew 2, and lost one for a GD of +8. At almost the same time William Gallas got sidelined by injury. This led to two things, one was other players stepped up their goal scoring output with Gilberto and Adebayor scoring four each, Van Persie with three, and Flamini with two. In fact, the loss to the Blades was probably due to the late introduction of Fabregas more than an hour into the match. The other was that the defense toughened up considerably with Gael Clichy and Kolo Toure being the constants as Wenger rotated Hoyte, Djorou, Eboue, and Senderos.
Arsenal's best winning combination sans Henry, thus appears to be Van Persie, Gilberto Silva, Fabregas, Flamini, Adebayor, Clichy, and Toure. With them Arsenal can be assured of regularly winning games but the question will they win enough to get them 80 points which would be needed as a minimum to challenge for a title.