Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry was the hero for Arsenal on his return to English soccer.

After training with Premier League Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Henry signed a two-month loan deal with the North London club and made his debut against Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup third round. He showed why he is considered an all-time great with a trademark finish just minutes after his introduction.

The Red Bulls striker and former French international rose to prominence at Arsenal while scoring a club-record 226 goals in 370 appearances. He left the Gunners for Barcelona with a heavy heart in 2007. Two clubs and five years later, he was back and it was as if he had never been away.

All the pre-match hype and soccer betting tips were built around Henry, so it was a disappointment to many when he was named amongst the substitutes for the FA Cup tie.

Leeds, one division below Arsenal in England, frustrated the home side during a first half of few chances. Arsenal pushed forward with more purpose after the interval and threatened to break the deadlock on a number of occasions, only to be thwarted by Leeds’ last line of defence. The stage was set for the Frenchman.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger introduced Henry on 68 minutes and after a quiet ten minutes on the field, the 34-year-old lit up the occasion with a wonderfully composed right-footed finish past the despairing dive of Andy Lonergan and into the bottom corner. Those who bet on soccer games and had backed Henry to make such an impact were sent home happy.

The Arsenal fans were sent home happy too as Henry’s goal was good enough to win the game and signalled an outpouring of emotion, both on and off the field. Fans of the New York Red Bulls will be hoping Henry doesn’t become too comfortable in the place he likes to call home.

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