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Leading Arsenal in Paris? Great!

The Arsenal skipper is relishing the prospect of playing Champions League final at the Stade de France in his home city of Paris.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 21:10 IST

Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry is relishing the prospect of playing next month's Champions League final at the Stade de France in his home city of Paris.

Success over Spanish side Villarreal in the semi-finals will give the Gunners' a date with either Barcelona or AC Milan in the May 17 final at the stadium where Henry helped France lift the 1998 World Cup.

"Going to the final in Paris would be a great story," the France striker said on Friday.

"Back home they are already saying it's going to be Arsenal's year because the final is in Paris and we have so many Frenchmen (in the team)."

"I was born in a suburb of Paris while Abou Diaby and Alex Song were both born just around the corner from the Stade de France," he added in the interview in The Sun.

"Obviously I remember winning the World Cup there with France in 1998 and people can see the story repeating itself this year. But we're not there yet!"

Henry paid tribute to the young team assembled by Arsene Wenger which has performed with such promise on the European stage this season, seeing off Juventus 2-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

"We have shown that even though we don't have the big names like Real Madrid and Juventus we can still do some great stuff.

"What we are doing with such a young squad cannot be ignored.

"Now I want to go all the way and win the thing. But first we have to go out there against Villarreal and make it happen."

His fellow countryman and teamate Robert Pires suggests that Wenger's reliance on youth has had its disadvantages.

The 32-year-old winger, dropped to the bench for Tuesday's quarter-final second leg in Turin, told the same newspaper: "Arsene took the gamble of investing in young players and putting them in the starting line-up and overall he is on the way to winning his bet.

"But it is fair to say this policy has had its shortcomings in the Premiership as we are only fifth in the table and more than 25 points behind Chelsea.

"The problem now is that unless we win the Champions League this will become a bad season for Arsenal. If we get knocked out by Villarreal in the semi-final everybody will forget about us."

Pires reckons the Spanish surprise package of this season's competition are tougher than Juventus.

"They are defensively sound and possess some truly gifted midfield players. It will be like playing ourselves."

The first legs of the Champions League semi-finals are scheduled for April 18 and 19 and the return legs on April 25 and 26.