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from Left field:

Va-va-voom. Vintage Henry scores on Arsenal return.

The clock said 68 minutes, and no one at the Emirates Stadium in north London was looking at the action on the pitch as the fourth official held aloft his lit-up board to signal the re-introduction of Thierry Henry to English football.

Ten minutes later and he'd scored the game's eventual winner. Comebacks don't get this good this often.

14 to replace 15 shone the bright numbers before the goal, but alas Henry's former number has since been taken by young English talent Theo Walcott, who idolises the French great.

Now, for six weeks and six weeks only after which he will return to the United States with the New York Red Bulls, Henry can be seen wearing an Arsenal shirt with the number 12, the same as his France days during which he won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship.

What is Arsenal’s future?

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By Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade

It is a bit early to single out Manchester rivals United and City as the only title contenders this season, but it appears highly likely that Arsenal will not be among the chasing pack now headed by the new-look Liverpool and Chelsea.

What is more, the 8-2 hammering the Gunners suffered at Old Trafford suggests that Arsene Wenger’s side might even struggle to finish in the top six, unless the Frenchman can swiftly turn around their fortunes.

Fergie the old hand shows softer side…for a bit

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By Simon Hart

For a brief moment, it seemed Sir Alex Ferguson really might be mellowing with age.

Twenty-four hours after ending his seven-year feud with the BBC, the Manchester United manager spent part of his weekly news conference on Friday defending the record of his erstwhile chief adversary Arsene Wenger, who comes to Old Trafford with Arsenal on Sunday.

Who can Arsenal actually buy?

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With Cesc Fabregas gone and Samir Nasri possibly on the move too, there is a lot of gloom around Arsenal at the moment and Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool did nothing to help the mood.

Arsenal fans are for the first time questioning the stewardship of Arsene Wenger and have demanded some top signings to prevent yet another trophyless season.

Do Barca really need to splash out on Cesc?

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In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the latest round of speculation over the future of Cesc Fabregas and classy Mali striker Frederic Kanoute’s decision to play on at Sevilla for one more season.

Do Barca really need to splash out on Cesc?

The annual ‘will Cesc Fabregas leave Arsenal and return to Barcelona’ media machine has been cranking into gear in recent weeks and the man himself showed up in Madrid last week to present a new fragrance at a trendy art gallery near Atocha railway station.

Soccer Break Thursday – Power to Portugal

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It was no classic but Porto cemented themselves as one of Europe’s top sides on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over compatriots Braga in the Europa League final in Dublin, surely the start of better days for the Portuguese game.

Key to this is that Porto’s coach Andre Villas-Boas and figurehead striker Radamel Falcao have agreed to stay at the club, a nice touch in the fast-paced football world where players and coaches come and go all too often.

Soccer Break Wednesday – Money buys success

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Cash, dollars, bucks, dough, call it what you want, it paves the way for football clubs to be successful.

On Tuesday the bank-rolled Manchester City outfit reached the Champions League qualifiers for next season and could even secure an automatic berth if they pip Arsenal to third place in the Premier League. That would be a real kick in the guts to Arsene Wenger, who has barely spent anything in comparison to City since he took over the North Londoners in 1996.

Soccer Break Thursday – United roll on

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Manchester United just keep on winning despite a sluggish season by their usually high standards and will now face Barcelona in the Champions League final on May 28.

Predictions? Hard to see even a full strength United keeping Messi and co at bay, especially as Barca coach Pep Guardiola will be seeking to continue his love affair with Wembley.

Soccer Break Monday – Goalline technology…again

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It is never over until the fat lady sings or should that be until Alex Ferguson stops talking about refereeing decisions?

The Premier League title race is reaching boiling point and Ferguson is hot under the collar that his team did not get a penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Soccer Break Thursday – Mourinho wins. Again.

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SOCCER-SPAIN/CUPJose Mourinho and winning appear to go hand in hand after the colourful Portuguese coach delivered at the first time of asking in Wednesday’s King’s Cup final.

All the more significant was beating Barcelona for the first time as Real coach, which sets up a fascinating double header in the Champions League semi-finals on April 27 and May 3.

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