Thierry Henry – don’t ever darken Arsenal’s doors again

By Avenell Dave

Same old Arsenal, always cheating!’

Is there a chant more likely to rile us than that? Certainly not me?

Arsenal stands for fair play and integrity and that’s the way it should always be.

Remember, that chant came about purely because of the infamous Sheffield United FA Cup game a decade ago when Kanu and Marc Overmars conspired to score instead of giving the ball back to the opposition.

Remember what happened next? We replayed the game and won it all over again.

I admit, this week, I have been an Ireland fan – and not just because Arsenal has long had an Irish connection.

As well as players such as Frank Stapleton, Liam Brady, David O’Leary and even Eddie McGoldrick(!) there has always been a strong Arsenal-supporting Irish community in North London.

And I like to see nations from the British Isles competing at the World Cup (perhaps moreso than England!) and eliminating France, with their huge Arsenal presence, would have helped us next season no end...

Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby, William Gallas, Samir Nasri – that’s a big gang to play through the summer with a shorter recovery time before the new season starts. Unless they play as they did in Japan and Korea in 2002, that is!

But where there is victory in football, there is controversy and much has been made of the handball by Thierry Henry that led to the winning goal.

Of course, Titi shouldn’t have done it and only he knows how much he was deliberately cheating or instinctively moved as the ball came his way.

It leaves a sour taste in the mouth that any game is won or lost in such as way and underlines, in some respects, the need for more technology, especially when the stakes are so high.

If the French want to improve their own reputations, they should play the game again – and the stats suggest they would win if it was anything like the second leg in Paris.

But the vilification of Henry has been incredible.

He was not the person who refereed the game, remember – and both the official and FIFA have a lot to answer for from an Irish point of view.

But while Arsenal showed in the Sheffield United game that fair play can be a part of top level football, no one is perfect.

Would we sit here complaining if we’d won the Champions League in 2006?

Remember, Barca scored a legitimate goal which was ruled out by a premature referee’s whistle (which the official later admitted) and we then scored from a free kick after a blatant Manu Eboue dive.

Had we held on, would we have complained or just been philosophical about it? You win some, you lose some and football IS controversy, after all.

I’ve heard Gooners saying or writing that Titi has now lost his status as an Arsenal legend, that his reputation is tarnished forever.

True, he didn’t cover himself in glory and knew better than to try and deny his actions.

But will true Gooners, even Irish fans, lambast him forever for one incident? I don’t think so. Not if they have any sense.

Thierry Henry is a legend. Always will be.

And those Addicts who say otherwise should ship out to Sh*te H*rt L*ne where they belong.