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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 21:39 GMT
Arsenal 4-0 Charlton
By Jonathan Stevenson

Arsenal goalscorers Justin Hoyte and Thierry Henry celebrate
Hoyte got his first Arsenal goal, Henry his 222nd for the Gunners
Arsenal captain Thierry Henry returned from his injury lay-off to inspire the Gunners to a win over 10-man Charlton.

Henry slotted home the opener from the penalty spot after Osei Sankofa was sent off for fouling Robin van Persie.

Henry then played a fine one-two with Justin Hoyte for the defender to slot past Scott Carson, who had already magnificently saved from Cesc Fabregas.

Van Persie scored another spot-kick after Souleymane Diawara fouled Henry and then chipped in a fine late fourth.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on this match

With Henry back after his well-documented 34-day absence, the skipper's team-mates appeared keen to welcome their leader back with a goal glut.

Arsenal poured forward from the first whistle and after Gilberto Silva and Van Persie went close, Fabregas was denied by a contender for save of the season.

Played into the area, he fired in a shot from 10 yards towards the top corner that Carson somehow stuck out his left hand to and tipped over.

As Charlton began to get more of a footing in the game, an encounter with lots of potential was suddenly dead in the water.

A Fabregas shot from 30 yards got a wicked deflection and looped up on to the crossbar and as Van Persie surged towards the ball, Sankofa bundled him over.

The right-back was harshly dismissed by referee Mike Riley on just his seventh Premiership start and Henry nonchalantly sent Carson the wrong way from the spot.

Just before the break, Hoyte got his first Gunners goal with an effort so beautifully crafted any of his illustrious team-mates would have been proud to call it theirs.

Cutting in from the right he played a sumptuous one-two with Henry and ghosted into the box to expertly slot past Carson into the far corner.

Charlton boss Alan Pardew's main task at half-time must have been trying to prevent a rout, which looked increasingly difficult as Tomas Rosicky fired against a post not long after the restart.

Some of Arsenal's passing was a joy to behold and Henry had a goal ruled out for offside after a sublime move involving the impressive Hleb down the inside right channel.

It was a procession on the Charlton goal and only a mixture of Carson, dogged defending and Arsenal trying to walk the ball in kept the score at 2-0.

Rosicky burst on to a Van Persie pass to force another fabulous save from Carson before the keeper was in the right place again to deny Fabregas 12 yards out.

Henry then shot straight at Carson from inside the box before the disbelieving Frenchman saw the on-loan stopper wonderfully tip away his top corner-bound curler.

Van Persie finally got his name on the scoresheet from the spot with 14 minutes left after Henry bamboozled Diawara and was blatantly tugged to the ground in the box.

The Dutchman made it 4-0 in stoppage time, latching on to a Mathieu Flamini pass and delaying before executing a fine lofted finish over Carson and into the net.

The effortless victory moves Arsenal up to fourth, while Charlton remain a distant six points away from Premiership safety.

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henry's return:
    "Of course it is a massive individual and psychological boost for the team to know he is back.

    "We worked Thierry hard on his fitness, which is why he looked so sharp.

    "The penalty and the sending off was a turning point, we controlled the game before that but they didn't give us any space. We needed patience and got it."

  • Charlton manager Alan Pardew on Sankofa's sending off:
    "My view was that Robin van Persie was offside anyway. But then he's ahead of my full-back who tried to get back and it's not really a foul.

    "I'm aggrieved he got sent off. To play Arsenal's best XI with five missing is hard enough, let alone with 10 men.

    "But I was pleased with how we played and Scott Carson was just fantastic."

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas (Denilson 82), Silva (Flamini 70), Rosicky (Aliadiere 77), Henry, Van Persie.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Djourou.

    Goals: Henry 30 pen, Hoyte 45, Van Persie 76 pen, 90.

    Charlton: Carson, Sankofa, El Karkouri, Diawara, Traore, Rommedahl, Hughes (Fortune 32), Faye (Kishishev 77), Holland, Ambrose (Thomas 63), Marcus Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Myhre, Hasselbaink.

    Sent Off: Sankofa (29).

    Booked: Diawara.

    Att: 60,057.

    Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

    Tuesday's football photos
    02 Jan 07 |  Football


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