Football: HENRY TEACHES HENDRIE A LESSON; Lee Has to Grow Up or Miss Out

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Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 0

THE superlative finishing of Frenchman Thierry Henry makes him an irresistible early candidate for Footballer of the Year... for one very good reason.

His golden goals are not only works of art in themselves, but are preventing Manchester United turning the Premiership into a once-horse race again.

Henry should also be regarded as the living embodiment of the way forward for English football.

When France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, the old guard of Eric Cantona, David Ginola and Jean-Pierre Papin were brutally discarded to enable youngsters such as Thierry Henry to develop in the national team.

If Arsene Wenger is ever persuaded to take the England job, he would be on the look-out for 11 English Henrys.

At Villa, there are a couple of young players with the potential to emerge in an England squad for the 2006 World Cup, but Lee Hendrie has an awful lot to learn before he can join Gareth Barry in the "one for the future" category.

Villa boss John Gregory branded Hendrie a 'prat' for getting stupidly sent off in an incident which surely consigned referee Rob Harris to relegation from the Premiership.

When Harris booked Hendrie for tripping Robert Pires, the ref clearly forgot that he had booked the Villa man just minutes before for disputing a free-kick.

Hendrie sheepishly retreated into the refuge of the defensive wall - until Harris had his error pointed out by Arsenal stars Giles Grimandi, Lee Dixon, Dennis Bergkamp and Henry. The red card inevitably followed.

Villa's England centre back Gareth Southgate observed: "Lee has got to learn. The first booking was unnecessary.

"He can be a bit tempestuous sometimes, he needs a calmer influence. He is an excitable kid and he is now absolutely distraught, very upset. I'm sure he will learn."

Gregory had no objection to home players insisting on the red card, confessing that his Villa men would have done the same if the boot was on the other foot.

Southgate said: "The Arsenal players didn't have anything to do with him being sent off, the referee was always going to book him the second time."

Southgate might have scored twice in the first half, but both close range efforts were saved by David Seaman. Taunted with "Germany's No.1", and "What's it like to build a wall", Seaman answered his critics with an outstanding display.

Henry did the rest. With Goal of the Season already in his locker the previous match-winner against Manchester United, he knew it was imperative to continue the club's winning run.

Henry said: "Seaman made a great save, perhaps he was the one who saved us in the first half. Some people said bad things after England lost to Germany, but he was great.

"The country doesn't want to see what happened last year when Manchester United ran away with the League, they want to see two if not more clubs create a challenge this time. …