Birmingham City 0 Arsenal 2: Henry masks Arsenal's deficiencies

Captain holds fort as Campbell announces his return

The Campbell news broke just before the interval at St Andrew's, via an announcement from his solicitor, that not only was the player about to end his hideaway spell following a nightmarish first half against West Ham at Highbury last week, but he was also insisting that, contrary to wild and frequent rumour, he had "no personal problems". Wenger revealed that this was old news to him, Campbell having telephoned to inform him on Friday.

"It was a short conversation. He is OK," said the Arsenal manager. And will there be a welcome at the training ground for the old defensive warrior on Monday? "I don't know," said Wenger. "I plan to take the day off." As to whether the reshaped Arsenal defence, with Johan Djourou alongside Philippe Senderos in the centre, was better or worse in the absence of Campbell, Wenger smiled: "That is a subject I leave to you," before making the point that he had picked a "very, very young team" with eight players under the age of 22.

He called the victory "a great performance of which the boys can be very proud," adding that it was a perfect way to rebut the criticisms flying in the direction of his players. Not quite perfect, perhaps. The remodelled defence grew in authority and confidence after a Dad's Army start in which everyone sought to out-panic his colleague.

They would surely have been punished by a better side than Birmingham, and it was indicative of the desperation of the home side's manager, Steve Bruce, that he eventually threw on two extra strikers, Mikael Forssell and the other Campbell, City's new signing from Brentford, Dudley, alongside Chris Sutton and Emile Heskey.

The quartet was, in short order, reduced to three when Heskey, unfortunate to have been shown a yellow card for an accidental collision with Senderos, drew a second yellow and dismissal from the referee, Mike Riley, when Mathieu Flamini made a meal of their mid-air clash and lay prone. The normally equable Heskey raged, with some justification, about his fate and had to be restrained from inflicting retribution on Flamini.

It was Birmingham's seventh sending-off of the season, and Bruce considered it harsh. While conceding that the second offence was a foul, the manager insisted, with reason, that the first card had been awarded unreasonably. He also pointed out that Henry, having been cautioned early on for dissent, then fouled Jermaine Pennant and was not treated as Heskey was.

"There has to be consistency," he complained. "If we are not careful, we are going to ruin a fantastic spectacle. Who wants to see 10 men? We are fighting for our livelihood, so Emile's frustration is understandable."

While Arsenal's defence were still getting to know each other their goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann, proved the saviour, hurling himself to his left to turn away Jiri Jarosik's shot.

Arsenal, who had not scored away since Boxing Day at Charlton, were soon able to relax. Henry slid one of his speciality passes out to Abou Diaby on the right and the low cross struck the Czech centre-half Martin Latka, rebounded from goalkeeper Maik Taylor and flew into the air to provide a simple scoring header for the £7.5m arrival from Monaco, Emmanuel Adebayor, making his debut after participation in the African Nations' Cup.

Adebayor could have had a second in a breakaway, placing his effort too close to Taylor. In the second half, only an air shot by Gilberto prevented a second Arsenal goal from Henry's perfectly floated free kick, but the clincher was not long in arriving. Cesc Fabregas released a slide-rule pass from inside his own half to Henry near the centre circle and the great man accelerated away, brilliantly finishing with an unstoppable left-footer across Taylor's despairing dive. Arsenal's relief was palpable, particularly among their defence, as they swarmed to congratulate him.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam