A day in history: how Arsenal secured Champions League football at Spurs’ expense in 2006

Henry made the difference that day in 2006

Henry made the difference that day in 2006

I don’t have a penchant for transfer speculation so I avoid transfer talk and avoid offering any sort of opinion on players that I feel we need because quite frankly, I am in no position to offer the such.

Having said that; I will also say that I am a man for nostalgia – I enjoy looking back at some fantastic goals and/or moments that the Arsenal has given me. Last week I decided I would make nostalgia a permanent fixture in my column for the season break and recall some fantastic goals over the years. However, it won’t be simply a goal that caught the imagination because of its sheer brilliance; it will be goals that were either:

  1. Technically fantastic especially in the context they were scored in
  2. Seemingly ordinary/not too difficult to execute; but, meant a lot at the time

In either case, it’s the story in the build-up to those goals that make them more memorable while a technically brilliant execution is the cherry on top.

Today, I look at another piece of Henry’s brilliance at a time when we needed inspiration.

Cast in bronze

Cast in bronze

Build Up

Patrick Vieira had left Arsenal in the summer of 2005 in search for European glory and signed for a club that seemed more likely to satisfy that ambition – Juventus. Ironically, it was the Gunners who knocked out Juventus from the Champions League that season but that’s a tale for another day! The point being, Arsenal had lost their midfield General and Captain.

The Gunners were having a poor season in the Premier League and had amassed 11 losses by the time the North London Derby arrived late in the season; however, the Gunners had managed to place one foot in the final of the Champions League just before this game. The reverse fixture earlier in the season had seen a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane. This game, however, had more hanging on it then bragging rights.

Spurs were having a similar season to the Gunners if not slightly better. Heading into this game, our rivals were on 61 points from 35 games. Arsenal was on 60 points from 34 games. Spurs were 4th, the Gunners were 5th and Blackburn close behind.

4th place HAD to be sealed to ensure Champions League qualification because winning the competition did not guarantee a return to the competition to defend the title; that rule changed when Liverpool won it in the next year if I’m not wrong.

If Arsenal were to lose this game, they would fall 4 points behind with only two games to spare, not good prospects! Can you imagine losing your spot in the Champions League – a competition that the Gunners had qualified for eight consecutive years till then – to Spurs?!

This game had a lot riding on it to say the least; plus, it was at Highbury!

Never lost to Tottenham

Never lost to Tottenham

The Game

Thierry Henry wasn’t fully fit and started on the bench; new signing Adebayor started up front.

Spurs took the lead mid-way through the second half amid controversial circumstances – Gilberto had collided with Eboue leaving the Ivorian on the floor; Arsenal shut off for a couple of seconds expecting Spurs to put the ball out of play, back then it didn’t have to be head injury to push such an action. Spurs played on and scored a relatively simple goal as Davids crossed the ball from the left for Keane to slot home.

Henry had been introduced to the game just moments before that goal. Arsenal was struggling to create anything meaningful till that point. However, the Gunners became more assertive and around the 80th minute a long-ball was played to Adebayor who took the ball in his control near the half way line, in the middle of the park, with his back to goal.

The Goal

Adebayor shifted away from his marker using the outside of his boot, still with back to goal, he kept going till the sideline and then ran towards goal, brushing off the attention of the Spurs fullback – what was his name? He was a Canadian fellow. Anyway, he moved in towards the center and Henry made a diagonal run from a deep central position into the gap left by one of the center backs ; Adebayor had drawn the center back’s attention.

Adebayor slipped in the pass for Henry, and what happened next was unimaginable! Check it out below:


The brilliance of this goal cannot be understated. Not simply a matter of one touch-BAM!

Considering the marker stuck with Thierry, the Frenchman luckily had half a yard on his marker but knew he could not take another touch to set up a shot with his left foot because the angle would become way too narrow and/or give his marker a chance to tackle. Secondly, because his first touch was with his right foot but kept the ball close to his right foot, the left could not be used due to this reason as well. So he flicks it with the outside of his boot into the far corner.

A flick! A bloody flick! How on earth did he generate enough power in a flick to beat the keeper?! The confidence that Henry had in his abilities was awe-inspiring. I don’t think any other striker would attempt something like that, but Henry did.

What Happened Next?

The game ended 1-1. Arsenal and Spurs went into the final day of the season with the former needing a draw and Spurs needing a win. A number of the Spurs squad suffered food poisoning just before their match and at one point they were winning their game while Arsenal were losing theirs! Luckily the King scored a memorable hat-trick to secure Champions League for another season.

Till next time!

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9 Responses to A day in history: how Arsenal secured Champions League football at Spurs’ expense in 2006

  1. Fred72 June 12, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    The Canadian fellow was Paul Stalteri.

    • Omar Hasan Khan June 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      Yes! That’s the name!

      Thanks Fred!

  2. nately June 12, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    I wonder why arsenal are so obsessed with spurs. I mean there’s west ham, chelsea, qpr, charlton, crystal palace, fulham etc. but no, its spurs you’re always looking at. Yes you always finish above spurs and always win, but the same could be said about almost all other london football clubs.
    Yet, all the gunners articles I see is about spurs, wilshere mentioned only spurs. when arsenal beat spurs to welbecks signature, arsenal fans were all over.
    arsenal are way more successful, more money, way more trophies, world class players tottenham could only dream of signing. yet gunners keep harping on spurs, reminding everybody how they are so better than tottenham. like envious(if there is anything spurs have to be envied) kids, they dont want spurs to have any nice things.
    spurs fans on the other hand only stoke the rivalry half-heatedly, its not like they have any real case. they’re just reciprocating the hate. if spurs are no threat, what is there really to hate, or is it just the white shirt?

    • Omar Hasan Khan June 12, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      Hi Nately,

      Firstly, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      It’s a good question you have raised about the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry. You are right about there being other clubs in London, but these are two are specifically from North London so I’m guessing it feels a bit more “local” so to speak.

      Do Spurs have a real case? You’re right, they don’t. However, Spurs wouldn’t give up an opportunity to celebrate any sort of success over Arsenal; case in point being the club releasing a DVD on a victory over the Gunners in recent times.

      The rivalry itself however started a long time ago, the roots of it can be read here http://thearsenalhistory.com/?p=9103

      I’m an international Gooner and have never been to London, so there’s only so much I can say. However, the North London Derby is probably as important to Spurs fans as it is to Gooners. It’s as important to both teams as well.

      I don’t know what else to say really, if a Gooner from London is reading this, perhaps s/he can help me answer this better!

  3. nately June 12, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    I wonder why arsenal are so obsessed with spurs. I mean there’s west ham, chelsea, qpr, charlton, crystal palace, fulham etc. but no, its spurs you’re always looking at. Yes you always finish above spurs and always win, but the same could be said about almost all other london football clubs.
    Yet, all the gunners articles I see is about spurs, wilshere mentioned only spurs. when arsenal beat spurs to welbecks signature, arsenal fans were all over.
    arsenal are way more successful, more money, way more trophies, world class players tottenham could only dream of signing. yet gunners keep harping on spurs, reminding everybody how they are so better than tottenham. like envious(if there is anything spurs have to be envied) kids, they dont want spurs to have any nice things.
    spurs fans on the other hand only stoke the rivalry half-heatedly, its not like they have any real case. they’re just reciprocating the hate. if spurs are no threat, what is there really to hate, or is it just the white shirt?

  4. PeeLee June 12, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I’m sure your article turned out to be interesting, but taking so long to get to its point must have lost other readers en route too.

    • Omar Hasan Khan June 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Hello PeeLee,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Different readers have different preferences so I wouldn’t generalize but I am very interested to know at what point did I lose you?

      Additionally, what were you expecting to see/read when you clicked on the link?

      Your further feedback will be invaluable.

  5. Jaymin June 12, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Ohhhhhhhhhh Lasagna! We laughed ourselves to bits, when tott’num got the sh*ts!

    • Omar Hasan Khan June 13, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      Hahaha brilliant Jaymin!

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