'Alexis can reach the heights of Henry'

By Jordan James Davies

It's quite dangerous to compare one of your current players to a club legend, because they can end up falling short of the huge expectation.

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This first appeared on 90min


But right now, it's becoming more and more understandable to suggest that Alexis has all the makings of becoming a Thierry Henry figure with Arsenal, and could even go on to bigger and better things in north London.

When the little Chilean arrived, many saw promise but were unsure of what he could actually deliver in England, much like Henry when he joined the Gunners back in 1999.

An understudy to Lionel Messi, Alexis saw his chances at former club Barcelona limited, and despite varying success both in La Liga and on the European stage, it was clear that he needed a new challenge. More importantly, he needed a club where he could become their Messi-type leader and hero.

And he couldn't have picked a better club to do so, which is showing right now on the pitch. Fully into his third season at the Emirates, Alexis has settled in brilliantly in the Premier League, perhaps becoming one of the biggest bargains of recent times at just £31m.

Now he's been given a compliment that isn't passed around all that often at Arsenal, with many suggesting he is similar to the club's record goalscorer. Despite not being a like-for-like striker, it's hard to argue with the comparison.

Alexis’ movement on and off the ball echoes that of the Frenchman, with some of his runs from deep inside his own half mirroring that of Henry's iconic goal against Tottenham at Highbury.

The pair share a instinctive nature in front of goal, and an ability to produce a wide range of goals, from tap-ins to wonderstrikes to cheeky finishes. Even Henry admitted that as a former striker there's nothing more satisfying than watching a front man produce a catalogue of goals with varying techniques after seeing Alexis score a stunning hat-trick against West Ham United.

There's also that edgy side to Alexis which is in all great players, including Henry, showing his desire to get the better of his opponent in any way he sees fit. Henry would show his physicality off the ball to let his man know he was there, and Alexis isn't afraid to have his voice heard on the pitch if things aren't going well.

And yet, at the same time, Alexis possesses skills and traits that show he is at the same time a completely different striker to Henry.

His eagerness to close down the back four is perhaps more intense than Henry's ever was, while his smaller stature means that rather than shrugging off defenders and holding them up from a high ball, his intent to get in and behind the defence from either down the middle or out wide is more evident.

Even his attitude appears different. Whereas Henry showed his arrogance on the pitch with outrageous demonstrations of skill and step-overs that would fool the best of defenders, Alexis' only sign of arrogance is when he is substituted from the field, walking off disheartened knowing that he could score a goal or two if he stayed on the pitch.

Despite these differences, an overall connection is their importance to Arsenal. Henry and Alexis' form and ability to finish is often the difference between winning and losing matches, or even a title.

The club's fans will be desperate for their No 7 to sign a new contract and, after his stunning start to the campaign - 12 goals and five assists in the league - Alexis is on his way to becoming a club hero. He could yet challenge Henry's effort of 100 goals for the club in 181 appearances, having scored 56 already.

Should Alexis help Arsenal win the league, or even conquer Europe, comparisons between him and Henry will become second nature, and perhaps even earn him a statue alongside the great man himself.

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