Thierry Henry enthralled many Gunners fans during his peak in the early 2000s for the red half of North London, as an Arsenal fan myself, he will always be synonymous with the Wenger glory days at Highbury along with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. Most fans are aware of some of his most famous goals, the sublime volley against Manchester United, THAT run versus Tottenham Hotspurs, and the wonderful solo efforts against Real Madrid & Liverpool. But it was the sheer array of goals that he scored that even got fans of rival teams standing up to applaud. With the new of his retirement from the game, here is a look at some of the variety of efforts he put away with relative ease.
Games against Chelsea were always a big deal, and this FA Cup tie in 2003 ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw. But it was Henry’s goal to put Arsenal in front on the stroke of half time that stood out. After breaking the offside trap and being put clean through on goal. Henry decided to nonchalantly spin around the ball, rather then simply go for goal, totally confusing the onrushing Cudicini, and roll the ball into the empty net. It still stands out to me now, as I cant recall many goals since scored in this casual manner.
During the 2003/2004 seasons, Highbury was a fortress, and many teams would suffer convincing defeats. A routine 4-0 win at home to Charlton in 2004 had one particular gem from Henry. Receiving the ball on the edge of the 6 yard box, with his back to goal. and the close attention of the Charlton defender, the straight-forward option would have been to pass the ball to a better placed team mate, but Henry has the audacity to hit a backheel shot into the opposite corner of the goal. No one in opposition defence saw it coming, and I doubt nor did any of the fans watching.
While the previous two goals above were about the delicate touches, this goal was pure power. Picking up the ball in the usual left hand side, the Frenchman strode towards the edge of the penalty box before launching an unstoppable thunderbolt into the top corner. Shots hit like that, just don’t get saved, and the celebration that followed just showed what he thought of his goal.
Preseason friendlies don’t usually get much coverage, and not many fans outside their own clubs preseason will really be aware of what other teams may get up to. During Arsenal’s 2005 summer build up, Henry scored probably one of best goals no one has seen! Though the opposition in S.C Weiz (of Austria) were not the most challenging, it still cant take away from the sheer beauty of this strike. In 3 simple touches, controlling the high pass from the back, flicking it over defender, and finishing with the most delicate of volleys.
The Clutch Shot
One of Henry’s great abilities was to deliver when it mattered the most, taking the one chance that comes your way. To borrow a term from NBA, being a ‘clutch’ player. One fine example of this was in the closing weeks 2005/06 season, Arsenal found themselves in a huge tussle with North London rivals for that 4th European spot. Finding themselves a goal down with 10 minutes to go, the Gunners needed a goal to put them back in the hunt for Europe. With the pressure on from the nervous home fans, Henry delivered. After some neat play on the wing for Adebayor, Henry made a smart run. Picking up the pass in one touch, then finishing with precision instantly with the second touch. A big goal in the context of their season!