It may be belated but, I think it’s only right that we celebrate Thierry Henry’s 40th birthday.
How you may ask?
By celebrating what he did best, scoring goals.
So, without further ado, here are Henry’s five greatest Arsenal goals, in my opinion of course.
Just for reference, I know I’ve already written about the king’s back heel against Charlton but it doesn’t make the list purely for the sake of repeating myself.
Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal, Tuesday 21 February 2006
Arsenal travelled to the Bernabeu in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 with very few believing the Gunners could get a result.
Up against Real’s Galactico’s, a team that included David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo it seemed like an insurmountable task. But nothing is impossible when you have Thierry Henry in your team.
After an even first-half and just minutes gone of the second period, Henry struck with a simply superb goal.
Receiving the ball from Jose Antonio Reyes just inside the Real half, you could see the Frenchman’s intent immediately as the pace of the move changed suddenly.
Muscling off Ronaldo, drifting away from Alvaro Meija, leaving Real captain Guti in a heap and racing past Sergio Ramos, Henry found himself inside the box.
Showing the coolness and composure that he demonstrated throughout his career, he tucked the ball right in the bottom corner, just out of the reach of a diving Iker Casillas and with his weaker left foot no less.
While the goal was brilliant, it was also the catalyst for Arsenal’s Champions League run of 2005/06 as Arsene Wenger’s men began to believe they could beat anyone in Europe.
That goal v Liverpool, Friday 9 April 2004
Another goal that proves how dangerous Henry was, even when 40 yards from goal.
After going in 2-1 down at half-time against Liverpool, the Highbury faithful feared the worst, but they were treated to a performance for the ages and a goal of sheer class.
Robert Pires equalised four minutes into the second-half and just 60 seconds later, Arsenal would be in front.
Recycling the ball after a Liverpool clearance, Gilberto Silva flicked a pass to Henry who got his head up with only one thing in mind.
Gliding past numerous Reds defenders – who were literally falling over each other – with his electric pace, Henry stayed calm as he bared down on goal, producing the simple yet unstoppable side foot finish that he has become synonymous for.
Having scored the first and then his brilliant second, Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer went on to bag a third, completing his hat-trick and securing all three points as the Invincible run continued.
The goal that’s cast in bronze v Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday 16 November 2002
If the last goal proved Henry was dangerous from 40 yards, this goal showed he was even a threat from the edge of his own box.
Just 13 minutes into the North London Derby at Highbury, Henry received the ball from a Patrick Vieira header and he set off towards the Spurs goal.
Galloping across the turf leaving Tottenham players in his wake, watching the goal back now you notice how the noise of the crowd gets louder and louder as the yards between Henry, ball and goal close.
Reaching the edge of the box, the king moved the ball onto his left foot and fired a shot into the bottom corner, sending the red side of North London into pandemonium.
Henry then raced back down the other end of the pitch, sliding on his knees in a moment of pure adrenaline.
That moment is the one forever immortalised in bronze outside the Emirates Stadium.
A purely magnificent goal.
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United, Sunday 1 October 2000
A moment of sheer brilliance.
Manchester United visited Highbury in 2000 knowing that a defeat would see them lose two consecutive games for the first time in a year – having lost 3-1 to PSV in the Champions League during the midweek.
If one man was going to consign them to that defeat it would be Henry, and that’s exactly what he did, in spectacular fashion.
With half an hour gone Giles Grimandi rolled a pass into his compatriot, who had his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area.
With Dennis Irwin tight to him, Henry couldn’t turn his marker, so what he did was ingenious.
Flicking the ball up with his right foot, swivelling and shooting all in one movement, the ball looped high over a motionless Fabian Barthez in the United goal and hit the back of the net.
The Highbury crowd was stunned by Henry’s brilliance and it’s a goal that will go down in football history.
The return of the king v Leeds United, Monday 9 January
Henry left for Barcelona in 2009 and we thought that we would never see him play for Arsenal again.
Then, on January 6 2012, the unthinkable happened.
Thierry Henry re-joined Arsenal on a two-month loan deal from New York Red Bulls and he would make his second debut just three days later in an FA Cup third round tie against Leeds United.
With 22 minutes left, Henry replaced Marouane Chamakh with the score at 0-0.
Many thought Henry’s return would be a nostalgia trip but, as he has proven many a time, he can win a game on his own.
12 minutes remained when Alex Song received a pass from Andrey Arshavin deep in midfield. Henry was lurking in the left channel as he loved to do and when Song played a killer pass, it took just two touches before the ball was in the back of the net.
One to control and open up his body, the second to slot the ball into the net with the same finish that we had seen oh so many times.
Such a noise had never been heard at the Emirates and it nor has it been heard since.
He may have been cast in bronze, his pace may have diminished and he may not have been wearing the number 14 shirt but, it was still Thierry Henry. A match winner, an exceptionally talented footballer and the greatest to ever pull on an Arsenal shirt.
So Thierry, thank you for everything you have done for this football club and I hope you enjoyed your 40th birthday, you deserve it