REWIND: On this day in 2004 Thierry Henry scored four goals against Leeds at Highbury

On this day, April 16, 2004 Arsenal legend Thierry Henry scored four goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Leeds as the soon-to-be Invincibles headed for the Premier League title

REWIND: On this day in 2004 Thierry Henry scored four goals against Leeds at Highbury

Thierry Henry hugs team mate Robert Pires after scoring his 4th goal of the night during a 5-0 win for Arsenal over Leeds. CREDIT: OFFSIDE



A hard-fought 0-0 draw in the north east on Easter Monday against Newcastle United at St James’ Park kept Arsene Wenger’s side unbeaten, but it was imperative Arsenal won their next game.

The reason?

If results worked out, there was a chance the Premier League title could soon be clinched at White Hart Lane, the home of the Gunners bitter rivals Spurs.

It was a delicious thought to contemplate before hosting relegation haunted Leeds on a rare Friday night fixture at Highbury – which helped contribute to the raucous atmosphere inside the grand old ground - although it may have also been aided by many Gooners, this writer included, spending the entire Friday afternoon imbibing copious amounts of pre-match beer to start the weekend.

However, by kick-off the only thing that really mattered was the accumulation of another three points to ease closer to the title, no matter where it would be won.

As it was, the evening turned into a wonderful Henry masterclass.

Arsenal vs Leeds lineups

Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole; Gilberto (Edu), Vieira, Pires (Parlour), Bergkamp (Reyes), Henry, Wiltord.

Unused subs: Stack, Keown

Leeds: Robinson, Matteo, Caldwell, Kelly, Radebe, Harte, Duberry, Pennant, Milner, Smith, Viduka.

Unused subs: Carson, Kilgallon, Lennon

Referee: Dermot Gallagher

Attendance: 38,094

Not content with completing his second hattrick in three matches following his hugely important treble against Liverpool in north London on Good Friday, Henry went one better to grab four, moving his season’s total to 38, two fewer than Leeds managed as a team, during what had to be said was a miserable year for the Elland Road outfit.

When questions were asked of Arsenal before and during their most recent home game with the Reds, it was Henry who responded with a brilliant treble. Against the side from west Yorkshire, he was again the star of the show, aided by a superb supporting cast including the irrepressible Pires, who again supplemented the scoreline by netting in the same match as Henry, as he did against Liverpool.

Wenger's soon-to-be-Invincibles utterly dominant

Wenger’s side were utterly dominant when facing a poor Leeds team - with their low morale taking a further battering as the match progressed. Their dispirited efforts did nothing to aid their aim of avoiding relegation and a looming financial abyss which would cast them into the wilderness even to this day more than a decade and a half later – thanks to their peculiar concept of ‘chasing the dream’ as described by their notorious then chairman Peter Risdale.

Whatever you thought of Wenger then and now, looking back at the glorious Invincibles season amid the first ten years of his reign, with Arsenal’s finances as tight as ever, with vast amounts of money being channeled towards the proposed new stadium at Ashburton Grove, it is worth remembering the job he and others did in balancing budgets while investing a relative pittance in the squad – all the while playing such incredible football, as was witnessed during the 2003-04 season, which included the evisceration of the financially hapless Leeds side they were facing.

Henry and Gunners simply breathtaking

The Gunners were simply breathtaking as they dismissed the visitors with panache and vigour. In the opening exchanges, Arsenal signaled their intent as Gael Clichy chased down Gary Kelly attempting to clear his lines – resulting in the ball falling for Robert Pires who crossed for Sylvan Wiltord. Despite glancing the ball goalwards, there was no-one available to tap the ball into an empty net.

The miss only delayed the inevitable as Pires opened the floodgates on only six minutes, following a superb through-ball from Dennis Bergkamp. The French wideman took the ball cleanly before opening his body up to curl the ball beyond Paul Robinson in the Leeds goal. His 18thgoal of a stellar season was a work of rare beauty – but the hungry Gunners had only just started their night’s work.

Wenger’s side may have gone into the match with an advantageous seven-point lead yet goals were the only thing on their minds once they went 1-0 ahead, banishing any jitters in the process.

In the 27thminute, Arsenal’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Gilberto fed Henry as he latched onto the pass by accelerating beyond slow-paced Leeds defence before slotting past an increasingly beleaguered Robinson to make it 2-0.

King Henry smashes records

The strike took him to 150 goals in only 251 appearances for the club he joined as a dispirited makeshift winger in the summer of 1999 after Juventus’ strange experiment in playing him out wide failed dismally.

While La Vecchia Signora singularly failed Henry on and off the pitch as their young signing from Monaco lost belief in his undoubted abilities – Wenger pulled a tactical masterstroke by moving the flying Frenchman inside, bolstering fragile confidence through his utter faith in Henry’s ability.

It was a bold move from Wenger but one which brought considerable joy and silverware to the club while rewriting the course of the Gunners history during that time.

Henry soon chased down his 39thgoal of a brilliant season. With 12 minutes to go until half-time, Bergkamp, who was also having an excellent game, playing between the lines in a role he loved, played a one-two with Wiltord just outside the box, before lifting the ball into the area, prompting a ponderous Michael Duberry to handle.

Henry scored the resultant penalty, awarded by referee Dermot Gallagher, with the cheekiest of chips straight down the middle with a Panenka-style dink to make it 3-0. There was then time for Vieira to thud a header against the woodwork, before the interval brought respite for an increasingly shell-shocked Leeds.

Five minutes after the restart, the Frenchman made it three, and 4-0 to Arsenal on the night, as Wiltord nudged the ball to a rampant Henry, who showed exceptional acceleration in running past a static Leeds defence before stretching to finish under Robinson’s frame.

Further records fall to peerless Henry

It was the first time a Gunners player had scored back-to-back Highbury hattricks since Doug Lishman in November 1951, when he struck trebles against West Brom in a 6-3 victory and Bolton in a 4-2 triumph.

Henry’s third and the Gunners fourth saw Leeds raise the white flag of surrender as they realised the enormity of the oblivion they faced - on and off the pitch.

However, the irrepressible Henry was still not finished. As the joyous Highbury crowd contemplated continuing the celebrations well into a north London Friday night Arsenal’s striker made it four for himself and five for his club when Pires pushed the ball into his path with a matter of minutes remaining.

Henry again used his tremendous powers of acceleration to race past a tired Kelly into the box. As the forlorn Leeds defender went to trip him, Henry used all his strength and balance to stay on his feet for a fraction of a second longer to drive the ball past the onrushing Robinson. Henry’s fourth signaled another record – the first Gunner to hit a quadruple since Ian Wright achieved the feat against Everton in a 4-2 win at Highbury in December 1991.

As referee Gallagher blew the whistle to put Leeds out of their misery, Highbury rose as one to acclaim Henry’s efforts as they savoured the fact they knew they were watching the finest football Arsenal were playing in many a year.

Arsene's Arsenal head for White Hart Lane and immortality

The result also meant Arsenal were heading for immortality and a chance to win the league title at White Hart Lane for a second time in the club’s history the following week.

Speaking after the match a clearly impressed Wenger hailed Henry.

“It’s difficult to find new words for Thierry. Rather than talking about him, it’s better watching him. When the team is on the same wavelength, with his power and pace and skills, it’s a joy to watch.

"We have many players who can put him through. His finishing gets better and better. In a central position he is extremely dangerous.”

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  1. Hybridgooner

    Apr 16, 2020, 13:52 #116756

    Remember rushing home from working at a Supermarket to watch the masterclass. Was still nervous because Leeds did Arsenal 3-2 the year before to win United the title Arsenal should have won. Thanks to Newcastle to beating Chelsea the Sunday after to ensure only a point was needed at WHL.