Champions League Special: Thierry Henry's Top 10 Greatest Moments For Arsenal

The classy French striker's finest performances for the Gunners
Thierry Henry has described losing Barcelona, to his current club, in the 2006 Champions League final as the worst moment of his otherwise joyous and honour-laden Arsenal career.  But what were the best moments?

The man who broke the Gunners' goalscoring record, setting a new and considerably higher benchmark (226 goals plus 92 assists in 369 appearances between August 1999 and May 2007); who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups as a Gunner; was voted both Players' Player and Football Writers' Footballer of the Year in consecutive seasons before winning the latter award an unprecedented third time; and whom Arsenal fans hailed as their club's greatest ever player in a 2008 poll, certainly has more than enough magic moments to choose from.

As Henry reluctanctly prepares to face his former club back in London in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final, UK offers its own ten suggestions...

10.  First goal for Arsenal, v Southampton (a) 18 September 1999

Even mighty oaks must grow from little acorns, and Henry's acorn was greeted with much relief, for the player signed to replace the moody, Madrid-bound Nicolas Anelka had toiled somewhat in his first seven games as a Gunner. Arsene Wenger had introduced his new signing from Juventus to the media by saying: "Thierry has the ability to do as well as Nicolas... he has all the qualities, best of all is his pace and power dribbling."

But Arsenal fans had seen a winger trying to adjust to the demands of the Premier League and producing some distinctly erratic finishing. Then in the 79th minute at the Dell, Henry, having come off the bench, controlled a long pass from Tony Adams, slipped the ball inside to elude a tackle and curled it into the net from 20 yards. His account was open; he was up and running.

9. Winner v Manchester Utd (h), 1 October 2000

Henry hadn't scored for six games when champions Manchester United came to Highbury, but he ended the mini-drought in spectacular fashion with a sublime volley, flicking the ball up and spinning to loop it unstoppably over his former Monaco team-mate Fabien Barthez from 20 yards. It was a sensational strike, made all the sweeter because it was the game's only goal. Henry admitted afterwards: "I was a bit down because I haven't scored recently."

8. Hat-trick against Roma (a), 27 November 2002

Among Henry's nine hat-tricks for Arsenal, the one he scored in the Olimpico Stadium against Fabio Capello's Roma was certainly one of the most memorable. Antonio Cassano had put Il Lupi 1-0 up within four minutes of the start of this opening match of the Champions League second group stage. Then Titi stole the show, equalising just two minutes later as he cut in from the left to tuck the ball into the far corner with trademark precision.

Twenty minutes from time he put the Gunners ahead, explaining: "I was particularly pleased with the second goal because I challenged for the ball in the box and I had to have quick reactions to get to the loose ball ahead of the defender. It was perhaps not the kind of goal I score usually, a real striker's goal." Five minutes later he completed his treble with a stunning free kick, later admitting: "You can never be super confident, but there are times when you can already see a goal before you take the free-kick, you think already the ball is going to go in.  It was one of those nights, everything that I was doing was working."

7. The Goal of the Season v Tottenham (h), 16 November 2002

Thirteen minutes into the first north London derby of the 2002-03 campaign, Henry scored a classic that neither he nor the capacity Highbury crowd would quickly forget. Taking possession of the ball just outside his own penalty area, Henry turned and set off a mesmeric 70-yard run at pace, dribbling the ball past Matthew Etherington, Ledley King and Stephen Carr as he bore down on the Spurs goal, then planting it coolly but decisively past Kasey Keller for Arsenal's first in a3-0 win against their fiercest rivals. It was later voted Goal of the Season.

6. Four-goal haul v Leeds United (h), 16 April 2004

As 'The Invincibles' closed in on the Premier League title in their unbeaten 2003-04 campaign, Henry scored four times in a 5-0 rout of Leeds, who a year earlier had dramatically won at Highbury to extinguish the Gunners' hopes of retaining the League crown. It was a different story this time as Thierry became the first Arsenal player to net four in a game since Ian Wright in December 1991.

The pick of the bunch was a typically searing run from the centre-circle past two defenders that ended with Henry placing the ball beyond Paul Robinson. It was his 38th of the season, and his 150th for Arsenal, taking him past John Radford's total of 149 and making him the club's highest scorer behind Wright and Cliff Bastin.

5. Highbury's last salute, v Wigan Athletic, 7 May 2006

Henry's love affair with Arsenal was also a love affair with Highbury, and on the occasion of the famous old ground's last-ever competitive match - the final League game of the 2005-06 season - the Frenchman did not disappoint. It was an emotional day, but Arsenal needed to win, and hope Spurs lost, to pip their neighbours to the coveted fourth Champions League spot. Henry obliged with a scintillating hat-trick, symbolically kissing the hallowed turf in the process to cement his place in Gunners' folklore.     

4. Rout of Inter at the San Siro, 25 November 2003

Arsenal produced one of their finest performances in European competition to destroy Inter in Milan, and the architect was Henry - whose penalty had been saved by Francesco Toldo when the teams met at Highbury earlier in the group as the Nerazzurri won 3-0. Now Henry was in inspired mood, swapping passes with Ashley Cole midway through the first half before picking his spot and side-footing the ball into the bottom corner of Inter's net.

Christian Vieri levelled eight minutes later with a wickedly deflected effort, but four minutes into the second half Henry found Freddie Ljungberg unmarked in the area with a left-wing cross and the Swede turned the ball in from close range. Henry would have increased the lead had he not tried to square the ball to a team-mate with only Toldo to beat, but he was soon sprinting clear and beating Javier Zanetti before shooting beyond Toldo from a tight angle for the Gunners' third. Edu and Robert Pires added further goals as Inter committed men forward, but the emphatic victory was testament to Henry at his peak.

3. Silencing the Bernabeu, 21 February 2006

A 47th minute Henry goal ensured Arsenal became the first side from England ever to win at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, when the Gunners met Real Madrid in the first knockout round of the 2005-06 Champions League. The future Barca star had been made captain of a young Arsenal side in transition following the break up of the Invincibles, but while their domestic form was patchy, in Europe they excelled, and would go all the way to the Paris final. Against Real they generally had the better of the contest, which was settled when Henry set off on surging run from midfield, evading challenges from both Ronaldo and Thomas Gravesen before shooting low past Iker Casillas.  
2. His record-breaking penultimate season as a Gunner, 2005-06

It was the first season since 2000-01 that Arsenal had failed to win a trophy, but for Henry the 2005–06 season was one out outstanding achievement on a personal level. On 17 October 2005 he became the Gunners' top goalscorer of all time when his brace against Sparta Prague in the Champions League saw him overtake Ian Wright's record 185-goal haul. Then on 1 February 2006, he scored against West Ham to take his tally of League goals to 151, breaking Bastin's record that had stood since 1939.

Henry went on to achieve the unique feat of scoring 100 League goals at Highbury, completed the season as the league's top goal-scorer with 27 goals, and for the fifth consecutive campaign notched 30 or more goals for the club in all competitions. To cap it all, for the third time in his career, Henry was voted the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.

1. Season-defining hat-trick v Liverpool (h), 9 April 2004

Arsenal, unbeaten in the League, were chasing the treble when March turned to April in 2004. But in a traumatic week, they nearly lost the lot. Manchester United won a closely-fought FA Cup semi-final 1-0, and three days later Chelsea came from behind at Highbury to win a Champions League quarter-final 3-2 on aggregate.

Three days after that, on Good Friday, Liverpool were the visitors to Highbury, and it seemed the fates were cruelly toying with Arsenal's dreams as Liverpool twice took the lead to go in 2-1 ahead at the break.

But in their hour of need Henry, in possibly his finest performance for the club -  completed a stunning hat-trick to hold things together when they'd looked like falling apart. The goal that turned the match Arsenal's way saw him take possession on the left, drift inside leaving a trio of defenders in his wake, then curl his right-footed shot beyond Jerzy Dudek and into the net. The Gunners went on to win 4-2, putting them seven points clear at the top. His four goals a week later against Leeds (see No.6 above) left them needing just one more point to clinch the title.

What was your favourite Henry moment for Arsenal? wants to know...

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