King Thierry Rules Supreme, but Will He Keep His Head?

Daily Mail (London), October 19, 2005 | Go to article overview

King Thierry Rules Supreme, but Will He Keep His Head?


Byline: JEFF POWELL

A GOAL fit to set before the crowned heads of European football announced the return of a measure of nobility to the team from the marble halls of the English game.

Arsenal, humbled at lowly West Bromwich just three days before, recalled their aristocratic leader to deliver a cavalier coup de grace to the Czech pretenders to his domain.

King Henry had begun last evening sat upon his throne in the manner of a Tudor monarch pondering whether to dispatch an errant subject to the Tower for imminent decapitation.

In this case the head in question is his own and the decision is whether to remove it from the body of Cardinal Wenger's team. If he does so, the fear is that it is Arsenal who will bleed to death.

No Thierry, no renaissance for the champions of yesteryear.

The future, we are told, depends on whether their most prized asset can foresee signs of glory in the seasons to come.

Henry's contract with half the people of North London awaits his royal seal. The palace gossip is that it will remain unsigned unless Arsenal offer firm evidence that they can contend for honours once more, preferably on the football fields of Europe where they have under-performed so mysteriously in the past.

So he began his visit to cold and distant Prague perched in judgment on the touchllne.

Can a team shorn of Patrick Vieira's powers of enforcement rise above its previous, choking self and take the Champions League by storm?

Failure here against the weakened Spartans of the Czech Republic would have answered with a resounding No.

So Henry was ready to return from injury to the rescue if needed, even though victory would provide no more than a small part of an affirmative answer.

The call came sooner rather than later. The expectation had been of a last half hour to cushion him into his comeback, while allowing Arsenal to flex some of their old authority.

The wounding of Jose Antonio Reyes after barely 15 minutes sent Henry accelerating early into the fray like a man hellbent on determining his own fate.

He seized the armband from Gilberto and carried it like a battle standard as he raced at the ranks of Sparta Prague. …

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King Thierry Rules Supreme, but Will He Keep His Head?
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