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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 May, 2003, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Henry's debt to Bergkamp
By John May at the Millennium Stadium

Arsenal strike duo Thierry Henry (left) and Dennis Bergkamp
The double act of Henry (left) and Bergkamp worked a treat

Lone Ranger Thierry Henry pinned the Silver Star man of the match award on his chest, but he would not have won it without the help of his faithful Tonto, Dennis Bergkamp.

Henry rightly took the plaudits for another stunning display of forward play which eclipsed Southampton's sharp-shooter James Beattie.

But the Frenchman's job was made easier by Arsenal's ploy of plonking Henry up top on his own and pulling Bergkamp back into a deep-lying role.

While Henry was happy to be surrounded by yellow shirts, Saints defenders were left looking for somebody else to mark.

Their central defenders were left with the classic stick-or-twist dilemma.

Stepping out to meet Bergkamp risked leaving Henry on the shoulder of the last man while dropping off allowed the Dutch master the room to create in the nether world between back four and midfield.

Southampton striker James Beattie (left) and Arsenal defender Martin Keown
Beattie (left) rarely troubled Arsenal's Keown

Given the time and space, Bergkamp was able to paint the canvas, and how Beattie must have wished he had somebody who could serve up the ball on a platter like the Dutchman.

In contrast, Beattie had to survive on scraps and despite all the talk of Martin Keown and Oleg Luzhny being a weak link, the makeshift defensive duo had a relatively quiet afternoon.

Unlike Southampton's defence, which was pulled out of shape by Henry's pace and Bergkamp's guile and cunning, Keown and Luzhny could stand their ground.

They were able to do that as Arsenal cut off the flanks, and with it the major supply line to Beattie, who thrives on crosses.

Keown and Luzhny were rarely turned, and were able to face the play, which is what central defenders like.

In contrast, Southampton found that marking Henry is like trying to pick up spilled mercury.

From the opening seconds when less honesty from Henry would have earned Lundekvam the quickest red card in Cup history, the Frenchman was a thorn in Saints' side.

There is no finer sight in football than Henry in full flight - unless you are a defender trying to cope with it.




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