Youri Djorkaeff has warned Thierry Henry he will again have to settle for second best today after believing his close friend should have been named World Footballer of the Year this week. Henry was beaten to the award by his compatriot Zinedine Zidane, but Djorkaeff was left stunned that the Arsenal striker was not crowned the game's top player.
Henry and his Gunners team-mates now head to Bolton and the Reebok Stadium, where the Wanderers manager, Sam Allardyce, reckons Arsenal psychologically lost the Premiership title last season. Arsène Wenger's side cruised into a 2-0 lead last April against a Bolton team fighting to beat the drop but they slipped up - both in the game and ultimately in the title race - as Wanderers took a point.
The former World Cup winner Djorkaeff believes that despite the brilliance of Henry, another disappointment could await the Gunners in Lancashire.
"Thierry has demonstrated this year he's the best player in the world," Djorkaeff said yesterday. "But tomorrow is different. Tomorrow he knows he is playing against me and he will be thinking to himself 'what can I do in a game like this?'. Tonight he will be thinking about me because he knows what I can do.
"I was surprised he didn't receive the award, not just because of what he has done this year but for what he has done for Arsenal for many years. He's certainly one of the best players I have played with.
"He has improved so much over the years. Over the summer, I watched him grow as a player with the national team and now he has the same responsibilities as he does at Arsenal. There were a number of players who didn't play in the Confederations Cup, including Zidane, and Thierry took the team into his hands. Now he's very confident when he plays for the national team. He is scoring some important goals and I think he could be the man of the European Championships in Portugal."
Bolton are on a high after a run of just one defeat in their last nine games and are into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup. Despite that, Allardyce admits Arsenal pose threats to that record. "You can come up with a plan but it's about stopping the service to him and seeking to restrict his opportunities," Allardyce said. "But they have any one of five or six players who can turn a game in their favour, so if Henry is not on song, then it will be Dennis Bergkamp, and, if it's not him, then Robert Pires or Freddie Ljungberg or Patrick Vieira.
"That's why they are where they are. If somebody fails to do it on the day, then they have somebody else who comes in. But if Henry hasn't got his shooting boots with him and we are at our best, then who knows?
"But the whole of the Arsenal team is on a better run this year than they were last. Arsène thought they could go the whole season undefeated and he said it publicly, which I thought was a brave statement. He hasn't said it this year and they've not been defeated yet, so maybe he has learned his lessons from that point of view but 15 games unbeaten in this league is a major achievement."Reuse content