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Arsenal fans wait to find Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) Arsenal's 'Jekyll and Hyde' season will reach its climax in the Champions League final against Barcelona, with the Highbury faithful hoping to see the good guy in action.

Too tough for Real Madrid and Juventus in Europe, but a pushover for Bolton Wanderers in domestic football, Arsenal's young side have shown a split personality in a challenging year.

Their run to Wednesday's final in Paris has broken an all-time record in European cup football, with 10 consecutive clean sheets restoring Arsenal's traditional strength of tight defending.

Wednesday will be also be a unique achievement for a club that had never previously survived past the quarter-final stages, adding real lustre to their final season at Highbury.

The composure at the back that was so cruelly lacking in previous forays into Europe has finally materialised, while talismanic captain Thierry Henry and teenage midfielder Francesc Fabregas have provided the threat going forward.

The final will be a particularly special game for Henry, who symbolises the French flair that compatriot Arsene Wenger has brought to the club in a decade as manager.

The 28-year-old striker grew up in the Paris suburb of Les Ulis and watched France win the 1998 World Cup from the subs bench in the Stade de France that is hosting their showdown with Barca.

More importantly, he holds the key to Arsenal's present and its future.

With a single devastating burst of pace, a mazy run from outside the area or an audacious shot from distance, Henry has the ability to turn the Premier League's fourth-best side into European champions.

HENRY'S FUTURE However, win or lose, the club's record goalscorer could also decide to leave in the aftermath of the final.

Instead of leading Arsenal out next season at their new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, Henry could be at the Nou Camp with the very team he faces on Wednesday, Barcelona.

MORE REUTERS AY KN1453

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