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Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.

 

Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.

 

Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.

 

Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.

 

Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.

 

Leading from the front

Thierry Henry

By Tony Leen, Madrid
ARSENE WENGER opted for straight A’s last night as he prepared his Arsenal youngsters for the truest examination of their fledgling careers.

The once-urbane, though increasingly-agitated French man identified three key attributes attitude, application and attack required to transform Arsenal's season tonight at the Bernabeu Stadium.

And captain, Thierry Henry, is central to all three.

"You need a big Thierry Henry tomorrow night," mused Wenger ahead of tonight's Champions League round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

It is not in his nature to indulge in public mind games, but if the comment was calculated to spike his compatriot's attitude for the game, it was a worthwhile gamble.

Arsenal and Wenger have seldom prepared for a game of such consequence with so many absentees Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Gael Clichy, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie all failed to make yesterday's Madrid flight through injury, while Togan striker Emanuel Adebayor is ineligible, having played with Monaco earlier in the tournament.

Therefore, Henry's body language tonight is as important as his body swerves and sidesteps. A display like the one that lit up the San Siro stadium in Milan two years ago, when Inter fell at Henry's feet, will embolden Fabregas, Reyes, Abu Diaby, Senderos et al. The indifference he showed at Anfield last week could be fatal.

Wenger understands the inordinate expectation of Henry but is equally cogniscant of the implications of defeat to Madrid not least Henry's future at the club.

"The problem is that the expectation level on Thierry is so high that if he does not make the difference, people quickly pick up on that, and blame him for not being the difference," he cryptically explained.

Henry's potential to shape this mouth-watering tie has been seriously undermined by the loss of so many experienced allies.

But his manager eschewed excuses last night and challenged his young tyros to seize the moment.

"It is a good test, but I take it in a very positive way. I feel we have the basis of a great team. We have a good team dynamic. We are a little bit inexperienced at the moment, but I believe we are growing up quickly, and this team needs a big result," said Wenger.

"Tomorrow is a big game for them, it does not matter what they will be doing in three or six months."

With striking options limited, Arsenal are likely to play a five-man midfield, with Jose Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg playing as auxiliary attackers. Given the fragility of their defence, Wenger is keenly aware that a goal in Madrid is essential.

"Madrid is the kind of team that can harm you as well at home. You cannot say 'We play for a 0-0 and win 1-0 at home', because they can go to Highbury and score as well, so you have to score. If the draw is there, we would take a draw, but you cannot go into the game and say you only want a draw."

Madrid have won their last six La Liga games. A characteristic of the last three has been early and frequent goals they were two up at home to Alaves within 11 minutes last Saturday.

However, in typically Hollywood fashion, Brazilian striker Ronaldo provided copy fodder yesterday by declaring that the Bernabeu fans are not worthy of his talents.

"At the Bernabeu Stadium, I have never felt at home, have never been treated with warmth. Despite all the efforts I made to come to this club, there are still people who treat me like this and I don't understand why.

"This is an important factor when taking into account the future because I have never been happy in places where people don't want me.

"The Real Madrid president knows what I've just said and knows my sadness regarding my relationship with the Bernabeu fans. I have always received his support but things haven't changed and I will decide at the end of the season when I will evaluate my four years at Real Madrid."

Ronaldo will be included in Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's starting line-up, but despite his remarks to the contrary, he clearly sees Henry as the primary threat.

"Henry is a great player, with a fantastic career. His virtue is speed and he is almost unstoppable when he has the ball. But this is a clash between Madrid and Arsenal, not Henry and Ronaldo."

REAL MADRID (possible): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Woodgate, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Helguera, Baptista, Zidane, Gutti/Robinho, Ronaldo.

ARSENAL (probable): Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Pires, Reyes, Henry.