Football: Henry provides part of Arsenal striking solution

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The Independent Online
ARSENE WENGER may have found a tempting solution to the dilemma of which pair of his four recognised strikers to use: by playing them all. Substitutes Nwankwo Kanu and Thierry Henry had joined Davor Suker and Dennis Bergkamp on the sodden Wembley pitch by the time Arsenal's Champions' League match on Wednesday against AIK Solna was transformed from an inadequate - possibly disastrous - 1-1 draw into a 3-1 victory with goals in stoppage time by Henry and Suker.

It was, to be accurate, a desperate measure as much as a logical tactical change. As Kanu and Henry stood waiting to make their entrance in the 69th minute, Suker drifted towards the touchline, expecting to be replaced, only to see the two wide midfielders, Marc Overmars and Fredrick Ljungberg, being called off.

Kanu joined the front-line and in the second minute of added time toe- ended the ball square for Henry, who had been playing down the right, to drive in a second Arsenal goal. Less than two minutes later the young Frenchman led a swift break following a Swedish corner and set up Suker for a flattering margin of victory.

Carrying a pounds 10m label following his transfer from Juventus in August has not helped Henry, who agreed that a match-winning goal at Southampton, followed by Wednesday's success, should do much to help him settle at the club. "It will help my confidence to score goals," he said. "I wanted to show I could score and I missed a lot of chances against Leicester in an earlier match."

So did his team-mates in their first Group B game, the 0-0 draw in Florence, and then on either side of Ljungberg's effort in the 27th minute at Wembley. According to Wenger, a second draw would have made it "nearly impossible" to qualify. As things stand, Arsenal are quite happy that Barcelona should have dealt another blow to Fiorentina's hopes, with a 4-2 win, before the double-header between the two group favourites. Although Emmanuel Petit will not be fit for the first of those games, in the Nou Camp on Wednesday, Ray Parlour will finally be free of a European suspension and goalkeeper David Seaman - to his deputy Alex Manninger's mortification - is close to returning.

AIK can consider themselves hard done by to have conceded two goals so late in each. Their performances have reflected credit on Stuart Baxter, the progressive manager born in Wolverhampton of a Scottish father, who will have come to the attention of various British chairmen.

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