'It didn't matter much about the style'

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The Independent Football

Thierry Henry admitted that the Arsenal players were driven by a fear of ending the season empty-handed. "We did not want to finish without any trophies and it would have been a bit harsh for us not to get anything," he claimed. "But, at the end of the day, it may have been harsh but you get what you deserve." Not that he felt the FA Cup win was not warranted.

"I thought we were stronger on the pitch than just 1-0. But you just need to score one more than the opposition to win a game and so that is what we did." 1-0 to the Arsenal, then? "If you can do it in style that is great, but it did not matter so much about the style."

Henry, the man-of-the-match, feared a repeat of the final two years ago when Arsenal let a slender lead slip in the dying minutes. "It looked like it was going to be a final like against Liverpool [which finished 2-1] and that is why at the end we just wanted to keep the ball," he said.

Nevertheless Southampton did create late chances. "We knew it was not going to be easy," said the 25-year-old striker. "They had one last corner kick at the end and Ashley Cole had to save the ball on the line. But you have to just make sure you deserve it and I think we deserved it."

The tension was heightened by the opportunities Arsenal spurned. Henry could have scored a hat-trick in the opening 10 minutes and admitted: "They did brilliantly at the back and it looked like the ball would just not go in."

The double footballer of the year, added: "If you look at the teams we beat to get to the final it was not the easiest way to get to Cardiff." Indeed after a comfortable passage into the fifth round the holders had to defeat cup specialists Sheffield United in the semi-finals plus Chelsea and, of course, Manchester United.

Henry did not want to make comparisons with the Premiership champions. "We won the League last season, finished second this season," he said. "We won the cup last season, and again this season. I will let others do the talking."

The Frenchman, having just signed a new three-year deal at Highbury, has now played 61 games this season but still intends to play for his country in the Confederations Cup in two weeks' time. "For some reason I just keep going," he said. "I just want to be happy about that."

His Arsenal team-mate Fredrik Ljungberg said the players had felt under pressure on Saturday. "But at the same time when you come out into the stadium the atmosphere is so brilliant that you just enjoy it. Of course we did not want to lose."

He added: "Southampton wanted to kick it long and play off [James] Beattie. That makes it hard for us but I think we showed that everybody was together. Everybody had to be together to play well in a game like this.

"We set our targets for the year and we wanted to win every competition that we entered. Unfortunately we did not do that but we won the FA Cup and it is a great competition."

Giovanni van Bronckhorst, a non-playing substitute, added: "It was a long season and at the end you want to have some prizes to show it was a good season." He claimed that the Arsenal players had only themselves to blame for losing the title. "We have to be focused from day one to the end like we did today. We cannot wait to get started again."

Gilberto Silva, the Brazilian World Cup winner in his first season at the club, added: "It was important that we did not finish the season with nothing."