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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 21, 2006

Wenger confident despite Henry ban

Arsenal captain Thierry Henry ruled himself out of the decisive Group G clash with Porto with a third Champions League booking but manager Arsene Wenger insisted after a 3-1 win over Hamburg: 'We will do it without him.'

Henry completed a hat-trick of cautions - he was booked for a disputed handball when he thought he had scored against CSKA Moscow last month and again in the opening minute of the Emirates Stadium return against the Russians - following a second half shove in the back on Hamburg defender Joris Mathijsen.

Henry then appeared to have words with Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen who brandished the yellow card.

Now the Gunners need just a draw in Oporto to go through to the knockout stage with the 2004 Champions League winners - and consign CSKA Moscow to the UEFA Cup despite failing to beat them in two meetings.

Wenger, who saw his team come back with two goals in the last seven minutes by full-back Emmanuel Eboue and Brazilian substitute Julio Baptista, said: 'I could see Thierry was frustrated. He was held back by his shirt pulled on quite a few occasions.

'Of course it was a blow. We wanted to go to Portugal with Thierry, but now we will go and do it without him.'

Wenger added: 'I'm sure both teams will fight for a win but if it is a draw then neither need be disappointed.'

The Arsenal boss could well look to £12million teenager Theo Walcott for inspiration in Portugal.

Walcott, 17, came on as 75th-minute substitute for Freddie Ljungberg and set up decisive goals in the last seven minutes for Eboue and Baptista after Robin van Persie's clinical 52nd minute finish wiped out a stunning opener in just three minutes by Hamburg's Holland hero Rafael van der Vaart.

Wenger, who has given Walcott just one Premiership start, said: 'He will play more and more now because we have so many games.

'When he came on against Hamburg he gave an injection of power and pace - especially after he moved from the left to the right.'

Wenger added: 'It was a convincing comeback against a good side. It will convince the players we can come back from a goal down to win here.

'The team refused to accept defeat and never, at any time felt sorry for themselves after going behind and then hitting the bar and post.

'Hamburg are better than their league position in Germany (17th) - because my scouts have seen them give some impressive performances.

'We were a little bit sideways in the first half but after half-time we were more direct. In these matches the last 10 or 15 minutes and can make a big difference and we mastered Hamburg physically in the end. I was always confident about that.'

Thomas Doll, Hamburg's coach admitted: 'We knew about Walcott. We knew when he came on he would be very fast.

'Our tactics worked in the first half but Arsenal kept up the pressure and it was too much for us. We were punished in the end but they deserved their victory.'

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