By Richard Clarke
The true benefit of having Thierry Henry on the pitch against PSV tonight will not be obvious, according to Arsène Wenger.
Yes, there are the goals, the assists, the crosses, the free-kicks, the corners and the captaincy. But, just as important, there will be the doubts Henry's presence places in the minds of the visiting defenders.
The 29-year-old striker has been passed 'fit enough to start' in the crucial Champions League tie at Emirates Stadium but, according to Wenger, he will be some way from 100 per cent.
PSV coach Ronald Koeman is widely expected to send out his side with a specific game-plan. Top of his priorities is to protect the 1-0 lead his Eindhoven side chiselled out in the first leg. Only then will they grab what they can on the break.
Of course, Henry has the ability to prise the pearl from the oyster all by himself. But, according to Wenger, his mere appearance will serve to worry the PSV backline and boost his own side.
"It is vital [Thierry plays] because he can score us a goal at any minute," said the manager. "But he has a psychological impact on the opponent as well. Therefore I am very happy that I have him available.
"The team feel stronger when he is with us, and that goes [opposite] for the opponents.
"Every player is important, but last summer [when he decided to stay] it was so influential because of the history and the goals he has scored.
"I feel the most difficult thing to do in the modern game is to score goals."
Henry used to be a player who wanted to play every minute of every game. However niggling injuries have taken their toll this season. The 29-year-old has begun 24 games for Arsenal, only the 11th highest tally this term and behind youngsters such as Justin Hoyte and Johan Djourou. Perhaps that says just as much about the injury problems at the back as Henry's niggles but the captain certainly has been enduring a season of interruptions.
"His game has been disturbed by minor injuries that stopped him playing at 100 per cent," said Wenger. "He was down for a little while but his attitude has been great.
"His problem has been his back and that his hamstring has been tight. It has been that way the whole season.
"If the injuries get worse after the game, then we will stop him completely for a while."
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