Arsene Wenger believes Thierry Henry needs to start using his head before he can fulfil his true potential.
Henry claimed his 50th goal in European football when he opened the scoring with a superbly-taken header in Arsenal’s 2-0 Champions League win against Porto at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.
But the Gunners captain has often been criticised for not scoring enough headed goals and Wenger is hoping his strike against Porto, his second header in four days, shows he has added a another dimension to his game.
Wenger believes the French star can become an even more dangerous proposition for opposing defences if he starts to make the most of his aerial ability.
He said: ”He has been here for seven years and you can still learn things about him. He has really good timing to anticipate when the cross will come. I would like him to do it more often because he is very powerful in the air.
”He likes to score and he’s intelligent. He knows who can give him good crosses and he makes a relationship with them. It was a great cross from [Emmanuel] Eboue and he is beginning to link up well with him.
”If you look for the players who have scored as many goals in Europe as him you won’t find many. The numbers don’t lie. It is even more impressive because he doesn’t play just to score. He drifts wide and brings other people into the game.”
Wenger’s side have now won four consecutive matches after a slow start to the season and look odds-on to qualify comfortably from a group they lead after two wins.
So the French coach, who celebrates the tenth anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal on Thursday, could be forgiven a moment of indulgence as he reflected on how much he has in common with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
But any Arsenal fans worried Wenger is considering emulating Blair by preparing to leave his position shouldn’t panic just yet.
Like Blair, Wenger has been in charge for 10 years and he revealed the politician’s speech at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday struck a chord with him.
Wenger said: ”I sometimes think about how things have changed in my time at Arsenal. In fact I listened to Tony Blair this afternoon saying I started ten years ago’ and I was thinking is he was talking about me?
”He was talking about how the world had changed since he has been prime minister. Our world at Arsenal has changed a lot in ten years as well.
”One day I won’t be here and you hope you can look back with a little bit of pride. We want to keep developing and the new stadium and the young team are signs we are doing that.”
Porto were unable to contain Arsenal’s fluid passing and movement and, after opening in the scoring in the 38th minute, Henry set up the second for Alexandr Hleb three minutes after halftime.
William Gallas strode forward with a mazy run that took him past three defenders and when he laid the ball off to Henry, the striker quickly shifted it to Hleb, who drove past Helton for his first European goal for Arsenal.
Porto face a struggle to reach the second round after collecting just one point from their first two matches, but manager Jesualdo Ferreira is refusing to panic.
He said: ”The conclusions we can take from this game are that we still have things to learn. We are a young team and are a capable of improving on our mistakes and we will get better for the next game.
”Of course I am disappointed with the result but it is not a disaster because we can learn a lot from this and improve for the future. We have to be positive. There is no other way.
”We are not in a positive position in the group. Porto is not used to losing games but it happens. We can’t get desperate. We have to keep our heads and try to work even harder.” – Sapa-AFP