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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 17, 2006

Henry demands 100% focus on Villarreal

Arsenal captain Thierry Henry has urged his side to focus fully on the job in hand when they aim to take a step closer to the Champions League final against Villarreal on Wednesday night.

The Gunners head into the last-four tie on the back of a determined Premiership victory over West Brom at Highbury on Saturday, which kept them on the coattails of north-London neighbours Tottenham.

However, this week once more presents a stern challenge for Arsene Wenger's emerging side as they seek to emulate the displays which have already sent the likes of Real Madrid and Serie A leaders Juventus out of Europe's elite club competition.

Henry knows it will take another collective effort to get past the Spaniards.

'Obviously everyone is talking about the race for fourth spot - but we are going to have to put that aside [for this match] and try to concentrate on the Champions League,' the Arsenal skipper said.

'It is going to be a massive game.'

Henry declared: 'What we need to do is defend well as a team and as soon as we can, go and attack.

'We need to do it like we do it in the Premier League - that is one thing which did surprise Juve. They are not used to a team having a go at them all the time, going behind their defence, or putting a high pace into the game.

'That is what we will have to try to do.'

Villarreal have impressed on their debut season in the Champions League, having knocked Everton out of the qualifiers and then coming through the group stages ahead of Manchester United.

Currently eighth in the Spanish league, Villarreal were beaten 1-0 at Barcelona on Friday, albeit with a much-changed side as coach Manuel Pellegrini kept one eye on their trip to London.

There will have to be something of a make-shift defence, however, after Argentina centre-half Gonzalo Rodriguez suffered ankle ligament damage and will be out for the season, while Juan Manuel Pena picked up a knee problem.

However, the Spanish challenge will not be underestimated.

Henry observed: 'They are a bit like us in a way, with the way that we are playing in the Champions League.

'They are well organised, and base their game on being tight together then making sure they can hit you on the break.'

The Arsenal captain added: 'They are a good team, play good football - and if you let them play, they can really hurt you.'

Wenger has maintained there will be no special ploy to try to limit the impact of Argentina playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme.

It was a sentiment echoed by the Gunners skipper.

'With a guy like Riquelme, it is difficult to think about man-marking him - we do not do that anyway,' Henry, 28, said.

'He is a guy who can pass wherever he wants and also has the ability to do whatever he wants on the ball.'

Henry only played just over an hour against the Baggies on Saturday, a move with Wenger hopes will keep his talisman striker 'fresh' for Wednesday night.

Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is expected to return to the squad, while young midfielder Cesc Fabregas - so influential against both Real Madrid and Juventus - is battling to shake off a foot problem which has kept him out of the Gunners' last two games.

Veteran England centre-back Sol Campbell, meanwhile, is a major doubt having just undergone surgery on a broken nose, and is more likely to feature again at the weekend.