Football: Highbury rewarded as Henry rises to occasion
Arsenal 2 Derby County 1
Monday 29 November 1999
A case of Rams to the slaughter, then? Well, not quite, as one can surmise from the scoreline, but Derby's defeat was emphatic in its tenor, if not on paper, and leaves them third from bottom of the Premiership while Arsenal move back up to third from top.
Emmanuel Petit had been considered an unlikely starter after straining his fragile knee ligaments on Thursday, but his presence, coupled with that of a dynamic Marc Overmars, supplied Arsenal with fluency and verve. However, not before Derby had made their own unsettling contribution.
The Israeli international Avi Nimni was welcomed in his first full game for Derby by colliding with Tony Adams. Happily for Derby, the ball ran to Deon Burton, who fed the ball to fellow striker Dean Sturridge. An efficient finish beat Alex Manninger, deputising for the injured David Seaman, after only two minutes had elapsed.
The Highbury crowd did not seem too perturbed. Surely, this was a consolation goal, one could almost sense them reason.
This view received some support soon after. Petit had demonstrated his fitness with a foul on Nimni after 10 seconds. As if to emphasise that his game can be creative as well as disruptive, he swung a free-kick a foot or so too high as Arsenal began to come into the game.
Thierry Henry, the 21-year-old French international, was put through by Marc Overmars, who had left Rory Delap in a state of confusion inside his own half. A slide-rule ball through to Henry found the striker in full stride through the middle. A beautiful right-footed finish beat Mart Poom with ease and style. It was like watching Nicolas Anelka but with a smile on his face.
Henry, in a central striking position, put in a performance which pleased Arsene Wenger. "His runs and moves were quite encouraging as it has shown that he can be a central striker," the Arsenal manager said. "In fairness, he could have scored four or five today. He lost his confidence at one stage and he had a period when he was a little bit down. Now he has to repeat that kind of performance and be consistent."
Within the first five minutes of the second half, Overmars picked up the ball on the left, jinked upfield and laid a beautifully oblique ball into the path of Henry. In double-quick time, it was 2-1 to the Arsenal as he expertly tucked the ball across Poom and inside his far post.
On the hour, Derby manager Jim Smith brought on Georgi Kinkladze, the Georgian international and former Manchester City midfielder he signed on loan from Ajax. His sporadic wizardry served to cheer up the frozen Derby supporters, but his advanced midfield role was unproductive.
Nwankwo Kanu followed as a substitute for the disappointing Bergkamp soon after, but he seemed cursed by his predecessor's indifferent form. Stefan Malz, a 19-year-old signed from 1860 Munich, appeared to be more effective when he replaced Overmars. A gloriously straight shot from a lay-back by Suker deserved to emphasise Arsenal's superiority, but his shot bounced down and off the line.
Goals: Sturridge (2) 0-1; Henry (11) 1-1; Henry (51) 2-1.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Manninger; Winterburn, Adams, Upson, Luzhny; Overmars (Malz, 72), Parlour, Petit, Grimandi; Bergkamp (Kanu, 63), Henry (Suker, 72). Substitutes not used: Lukic (gk), Vernazza.
Derby County (5-3-2): Poom; Delap, Laursen, Prior, Carbonari (Elliott, 45), Dorigo; Johnson, Powell, Nimni (Kinkladze, 60); Burton (Robinson, 72), Sturridge. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Elliott, Murray.
Bookings: Derby: Johnson, Dorigo, Delap. Arsenal: Grimandi, Suker, Bergkamp.
Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).
Man of the match: Overmars.
Latest in Sport
Perth midfielder Ruben Zadkovich sent off 17 seconds after coming on against Wellington
F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2014 live: Lewis Hamilton heads towards second championship as Nico Rosberg has major engine troubles
England vs Samoa match report: England finally end losing streak as Jonny May stars in win ahead of Wallabies showdown
Arsenal vs Manchester United report: Wayne Rooney and a Kieran Gibbs own goal make Gunners rue missed chances
Arsenal vs Manchester United player ratings: Who was the star man? Wayne Rooney or David De Gea?
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...