Arsenal are preparing for a high-profile encounter on July 31 when they face New York Red Bulls in a defining game of the preseason tournament - the 2011 Emirates Cup. Interestingly, the tie itself is the subplot here as the Emirates Stadium will be filled with Arsenal supporters craning their necks to get a glimpse of their former star, and a club legend, Thierry Henry.
Though it is just a pre-season friendly, the English team is looking forward to a reunion with the Arsenal great who left North London for Barcelona on June 2007 after spending eight years with the team.
He's been a great influence to me so it will be nice to see his face, Theo Walcott told Arsenal.com’s Chris Harris. I think he changes his phone number a lot so it's tough to keep in touch with him! So many people want a bit of him but he will always be there for me, definitely.”
The 22-year-old England and Arsenal striker admitted that he was a shy and a starstruck 16-year-old when he first encountered the club’s record goal-scorer.
The team reunited with Henry in January when the former great returned to train with Arsenal in January. However, the Gunners are not taking the forthcoming Emirates Cup lightly even though it is a pre-season friendly.
It will be great to play at the Emirates again and hopefully show the fans what we can do, that we're ready, Walcott added. We won't treat the Emirates Cup games as friendlies, we don't treat any pre-season games like that, we like to go out there and win. If we win the Emirates Cup hopefully we can move on and win something bigger.
Thierry Henry, who joined Arsenal from Juventus for £11 million in 1999, spent eight years with Arsenal scoring 174 goals in 254 appearances. During his stay, he was nominated for FIFA World Player of the Year twice and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as the club’s captain and led them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006.
Henry, even though he will be on the sidelines for the opposing team, is eagerly anticipated.