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Tuesday 10 January 2012

Wenger: Henry return was like a dream

Manager watches legendary striker score winner on second debut for Arsenal

Thierry Henry scores the winner for Arsenal in their FA Cup tie against Leeds

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted the return of Thierry Henry to the Gunners first team was like 'a dream'.

Henry came off the bench to score the only goal of the match in Arsenal's 1-0 FA Cup third round victory over Leeds at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who played for the club from 1999-2007, was making his second debut for Arsenal, having joined on a two-month loan deal from New York Red Bulls in the United States.

"It was like a story about football that you would tell to young children"
- Arsene Wenger

He collected an Alex Song pass 10 minutes after coming on and kept his cool to slot past Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan to book a fourth round home tie against Aston Villa.

"It was a little bit of a dream, it was like a story about football that you would tell to young children," said Wenger. "Unfortunately it is not often like that in our game, but sometimes it happens.

"You could see when Thierry came on he had a presence on the pitch and if we could find him, he would be dangerous. He was sharp physically.

"He was already a legend here and now has added a bit more to the story."

Wenger says he had seen enough of Henry in training to know he could still make a difference for Arsenal, and is delighted by the impact the former Barcelona striker is having on his young squad.

"No, I was not surprised. In training I have seen that he was sharp and ready to play. I would not put him on the pitch with what he has done here if he was not ready because that would be unfair. He is a special player.

"What is good for the young players at the club is that a guy who has done it all comes and prepares 100%, warms up, is focused and motivated, and comes on with an immense desire to do well.

"Thierry is a proud guy, he does not want to disappoint people. He knows he will be compared to what he has done before. That is what champions are about."

Henry is set to make his Barclays Premier League return when Arsenal visit Swansea City's Liberty Stadium on Sunday 15th January.

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Key Points

  • Henry hit winner as Arsenal beat Leeds in FA Cup
  • Striker was making second debut for the Gunners
  • Wenger praises immediate impact of club legend