Arsenal must make statement of intent against Chelsea, says Thierry Henry
Last Updated: 01/02/16 10:55am
Arsenal may never have a better chance to make a statement of intent in the title race against a wounded Chelsea side, according to Thierry Henry.
The league-leading Gunners welcome the current champions to the Emirates Stadium on Super Sunday looking to end a run of eight league games without a victory against their London rivals.
Chelsea, meanwhile, head across town in the midst of their worst season in the Premier League era, a shadow of the side which romped to the title last term and with Guus Hiddink in charge following Jose Mourinho's sacking last month.
A long-awaited Arsenal victory on Sunday - their first against Chelsea since October 2011 - would move Arsene Wenger a step close to winning the league for the first time in 12 seasons.
And Henry believes Chelsea's form, coupled with Mourinho's exit, presents the Gunners with an opportunity too good not to take, although he stressed both sides' form could influence the message the game delivers.
"What better chance will Arsenal have to play against the wounded Premier League champions, at home, and make a statement that they are in for the title?" Henry told Sky Sports News HQ.
What better chance will Arsenal have to play against the wounded Premier League champions, at home, and make a statement that they are in for the title?
"Despite that, I feel this game could deliver a mixed message because Chelsea are not performing at the moment.
"If Arsenal go and hammer Chelsea people will attribute that to Chelsea's poor form. However, if Arsenal win a tight game people will say they suffered against Chelsea. We will see on Sunday what they can do.
"Let's not forget that Arsenal have a great record against Chelsea when Jose Mourinho is not the coach, they usually enjoy those games."
Arsenal have received a timely injury boost ahead of Sunday's game with the news Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are expected to return to first-team from long-term and brief injury lay-offs respectively.
Relief on the injury front came as welcome news to Henry, but the Frenchman urged a degree of caution in rushing back players integral to the club's title aspirations.
"For me Ozil is the brain of the team, this year he is producing and doing it well," he added. "When he is around he is key for me at the moment.
"I said at the start of the season that Sanchez would be the key for Arsenal if they were going to win the league. We all know about his quality but the question now is whether he can be kept fit.
"It's going to be a tricky one for Arsene on Sunday, deciding whether to risk him from the start or not. We all know how important he is for Arsenal and we're going to need him fresh and performing at his best."
Olivier Giroud's new-found consistency has seen the Gunners maintain their form when the likes of Sanchez and Ozil have been missing, with the Frenchman scoring 18 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions so far this term.
Jose exit to benefit Arsenal?
Will Jose Mourinho's sacking hand Arsene Wenger the advantage on Super Sunday?
And Henry believes his compatriot is finally showing the form capable of leading Arsenal to the title, adding: "Giroud has been consistent where he wasn't in his first season.
"We all know he can finish but this year he has been consistent and finally he is showing he can lead Arsenal to the title.
"He has been criticised when he wasn't performing so you now have to give the guy credit, he is finally playing well."
Watch Arsenal v Chelsea live on Super Sunday, 4pm, Sky Sports 1 HD