Issued on • Modified
Arsenal old guns Henry and Vieira launch friendly fire
They played together in one of the most dazzling Arsenal teams to grace the English Premier League. But 15 years on from their heroics as part of Arsène Wenger's 2004 "Invincible" title-winning side, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira go head-to-head for the first time as managers of Monaco and Nice respectively.
Talk of Vieira's midfield steel, Henry's attacking brio, unbeaten streaks and league championships is far from the old pals' current thinking.
After a wobbly start, Nice are mid-table with 29 points.
Monaco began badly under coach Leonardo Jardim. Even after he was sacked in October, they have been abject under Henry. Stricken by injuries, they are in the relegation zone with just 14 points from 19 games.
Nice's preparations for the south-coast derby were rocked when the club's president, Jean-Pierre Rivière and sporting director, Julien Fournier, resigned.
"I've talked to one of the shareholders about January transfers," said Vieira who took over at Nice in the summer of 2018. "I've not had any assurances that we'll be getting people in. If none arrive, we'll keep going with what we have and we'll do our best."
Nice's circumstances could do with an Henry in his pomp. They have scored only 14 goals in 19 league matches. Monaco have hit the target 17 times but their defence has been far more porous. They have conceded 30 goals.
But while Nice ponder reinforcements, Monaco's have been acted. They have been bolstered by the arrival of Naldo, Fodé Ballo-Touré, William Vainqueur and Cesc Fabregas who, as a teenager, played with Henry at Arsenal.
None of Monaco's recruits will be able to play in the match at the Stade Louis II as they were not registered in the French league when the 7 December match was postponed due to the "gilets jaunes" weekend protests.
"We'll see how the new players strengthen the squad," said Henry. "It could really be strong when we get all the players back from injuries."