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Three for Thursday: Henry moments vs. Man. United

Henry vs. MUFC

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

When the MLS All-Stars take the pitch on July 27 against reigning English Premier League champs Manchester United (8:30 pm ET; ESPN2/Galavisión/TSN), they’ll have a deadly weapon in their ranks.

No one that day will have more experience facing the Red Devils than current New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, who spent eight seasons battling them as part of Arsenal from 1999 to 2007. All in all, since his start in AS Monaco and throughout stints with Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona, the prolific French striker has faced Manchester United a total of 22 times.

In this special All-Star edition of Three For Thursday, we take a look at three top Henry moments against the most successful English club.

1. Henry’s legendary goal at Highbury

When Henry arrived at Arsenal from Juventus in 1999, he did so amid a power struggle with Manchester United for English Premier League superiority.

The Gunners entered the 2000-01 season having finished runners up to the Red Devils the season before, so when Henry & Co. hosted their toughest rivals in just the eighth game of the season, they knew the result could play a large role in their title hopes.

Half an hour into the match, with the score still 0-0, Henry created a breathtaking masterpiece out of seemingly nothing. The Frenchman held off a defender at the top of the box as he received a pass from Gilles Grimaldi. In one swift motion, Henry flicked the ball up on the roll, turned and laced a volley that sliced and dipped over a helpless Fabien Barthez.

The goal proved to be the match-winner. And though Arsenal would finish runners-up to Manchester United for the EPL crown that season, Henry’s goal was second to none.

2. Henry becomes a European champ … at the expense of Man. United

It was 2009 and Henry had been with Barcelona for two seasons. And despite having a cabinet-full of accolades at personal, club and international levels — including the 1998 World Cup — the Frenchman had yet to capture the UEFA Champions League trophy.

He had come close in 2006 as a Gunner, but a then Ronaldinho-led Barcelona ruined Henry’s intentions of winning the most coveted club title in Europe. So three years later, when Henry found himself in the final in Rome against Manchester United, there was no way he was going to let the crown escape him a second time.

As one prong of the lethal Barcelona trident that also featured Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o, Henry got two chances on target but failed to score. Messi and Eto’o, however, hit the mark and the Blaugrana won the match 2-0. Henry had his European Cup trophy at last.

3. Henry powers in header for Arsenal's win

It’s a scenario about which the best stories are written.

In 2007, down 1-0 after Wayne Rooney scored for Manchester United in the 53rd minute, Arsenal tried but couldn’t punish the Red Devils' defense — until the final seven minutes of the match.

As Man. United tried to kill off the match, Henry & Co. turned up the heat. Cesc Fàbregas won the ball and sent Tomas Rosicky through on the right side, and the Czech midfielder crossed it in for Henry. The Frenchman used a cheeky back-heel to flick the ball to the far post, where Robin van Persie streaked in to finish for the equalizer.

With the score tied three minutes into stoppage time, Henry took matters into his own hands — or head, rather. Emmanuel Eboué played a give-and-go with Rosicky on the right side and then crossed the ball into the box, where the star rose to head over Edwin van der Sar for the winner.

That tally turned out to be Henry’s penultimate of a 226-goal haul in eight years with the Gunners.