Search

Arsenal boss Wenger: 2004 Invincibles Good Friday clash my favourite Liverpool match – but now it’s top four ‘not about winning league’

PUBLISHED: 23:36 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 01:46 22 December 2017

Arsenal's Thierry Henry (centre) celebrates with team-mates after the Barclaycard Premiership game against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, London. Arsenal are the Premiership champions for the second time in three seasons. They clinched the title with a 2-2 draw..

Arsenal's Thierry Henry (centre) celebrates with team-mates after the Barclaycard Premiership game against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, London. Arsenal are the Premiership champions for the second time in three seasons. They clinched the title with a 2-2 draw..

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates on Friday evening – but Arsene Wenger inadvertently revealed how far the club has fallen on the pitch since the heady days of his favourite clash against the Reds.

Highbury Stadium (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) Highbury Stadium (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The long-serving Frenchman was asked this week what his best game was against the Merseyside giants. He chose the never-to-be-forgotten 4-2 victory against Gerard Houlier’s side at Highbury on Friday, April 9, 2004.

It had been a traumatic week for the all-conquering soon-to-be Invincibles after they suffered a crushing 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea in the second leg of the quarter finals of the Champions League three days previously. A late goal by Wayne Bridge knocked the club out when they looked well placed to lift the tournament that year. Three days prior to that Wenger’s men had fallen to a Paul Scholes goal at Villa Park as Manchester United beat the Gunners 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final.

The team which had topped the table for most of the season had to dig deep as many outside the club started to doubt their chances of lifting the Premier League.

But in a match which is undoubtedly one of the greatest matches ever played in Arsenal’s long and illustrious history the team showed the character they possessed and blew Liverpool away in a stunning second half at Highbury.

Thierry Henry cancels out Robbie Keane's opener in the 1-1 draw in April 22 2006, a match which saw Edgar Davids sent off.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) Thierry Henry cancels out Robbie Keane's opener in the 1-1 draw in April 22 2006, a match which saw Edgar Davids sent off. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Thierry Henry grabbed arguably his most important hat-trick for the club as they swept away the Reds and went on to lift the title at White Hart Lane 16 days later.

Wenger said this week: “I don’t know what is my best memory, maybe when we won the championship in 2004 — we were 2-1 down at half-time and won 4-2. Thierry Henry.

“It was a pivotal game in the unbeaten season.

“It’s always an important game against Liverpool.”

Patrick Vieira during his time at Arsenal (David Davies/PA Wire) Patrick Vieira during his time at Arsenal (David Davies/PA Wire)

However 13 years on from the Invincibles Wenger let slip how far the club has fallen from that heady era, when he admitted the result of Friday’s fixture will help the club in their hunt to finish in the top four after missing out last season.

The Arsenal boss conceded Friday night’s game is all about pushing for a place in the top four rather than challenging for the title.

Wenger said: “I am aware of the history, yes.

“But this game is not about winning the League, it’s about being our next Premier League game to come back in a strong position in the top four. That’s what it’s about.

Arsene Wenger in 1996 after being appointed Arsenal manager. Photo: Cheskin/PA Arsene Wenger in 1996 after being appointed Arsenal manager. Photo: Cheskin/PA

“Let’s not forget I’ve played against Liverpool when they had Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Owen. They’ve had fantastic teams in the past, always.

“Now it seems there are six or seven teams fighting for the top four. So this game is important because of that, but not more than any other in the top seven.”

Arsenal lost at Anfield in August in a humiliating rout to Jurgen Klopp’s team and will be looking for revenge from one of the worst performances in the club’s history over the last three decades.

Wenger appears to have abandoned his back three which he introduced back in April and has switched back to a 4-4-2 in a bid to introduce a tighter backline.

Tony Evans lists Dennis Bergkamp as the best Arsenal player he's seen, comparing him to his beloved Kenny Dalglish. PA Tony Evans lists Dennis Bergkamp as the best Arsenal player he's seen, comparing him to his beloved Kenny Dalglish. PA

The fixture has always traditionally been full of goals and Friday’s match may be no different.

With both teams believing attack is the best form of defence the winner will be guaranteed fourth place for Christmas.

Wenger said: “Christmas is just after the 22nd and our happiness depends not on the presents we get but the results we make. That is what it is about.

“Liverpool are an offensive team. We are a team who likes to go forward and create chances, and we do create chances.

Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates  by bowing to the North Bank fans during the last match at Highbury after 93 years. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates by bowing to the North Bank fans during the last match at Highbury after 93 years. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“Our home form has been strong, but you want to transform that into points. Against Man United [the 3-1 home defeat] we came away frustrated because we created so many chances.

“We want to continue to focus on our performance because that is the most important thing, that enables us to win the game.

“There is a gap in points, that’s true – more than in performances.

“It’s very simple if you look at the mathematics. Who are the team who have created the most chances in the league? Arsenal. Have we scored the most goals? No. That means there is a deficit between the expected goals and the number of goals we have scored.

Thierry Henry completes his hat-trick for Arsenal as they thumped Leicester 6-1 on a goal crazy day in London. Boxing Day 2000 also saw West Ham hit Charlton for five, Fulham put five past Watford and Millwall thumped Colchester 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport Thierry Henry completes his hat-trick for Arsenal as they thumped Leicester 6-1 on a goal crazy day in London. Boxing Day 2000 also saw West Ham hit Charlton for five, Fulham put five past Watford and Millwall thumped Colchester 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

“Maybe we have to find solutions to be more efficient in front of goal.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 17:00

Sarries in Pool Two along with Tigers, Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors

Yesterday, 14:00

Toby Alderweireld played his part to deny five of his Spurs team-mates a chance of finishing third in Russia

Yesterday, 11:10

Former Finchley amateur to put WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Russian rival

Yesterday, 10:00

The Spurs goalkeeper made a mistake against Croatia, but it didn’t stop him lifting the trophy at full time

Yesterday, 09:00

France marked their 20th anniversary since winning the World Cup by being crowned once again after sealing a 4-2 victory against Croatia.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hendon came close to snatching a draw from their friendly against St Albans City at a boiling hot Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

So, England finished fourth at the World Cup finals in Russia.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Boreham Wood hosted Unai Emery’s Arsenal’s at Meadow Park on Saturday afternoon. Read on for Layth Yousif’s report.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now