Henry downplays Arsenal return

Thierry Henry tried to play down expectations after marking his Arsenal comeback with the winning goal in the Gunners’ FA Cup victory over Leeds.

The 34-year-old France World Cup-winner, Arsenal’s record goal scorer, came off the bench to slot home the only goal of the game with a typically composed finish to seal a 1-0 third round success in front of his adoring fans at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

Henry, who left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007, has returned to north London on a short-term loan deal from New York Red Bulls with Major League Soccer now in its close season.

And there remains the possibility he could feature in the derby against arch-rivals Tottenham, third in the Premier League table and six points in front of Arsenal, at the Emirates on February 26.

In the meantime Henry urged Arsenal fans not to get carried away by the manner of his return.

“I know I scored but that is not going to happen every time I play. I don’t know if my runs were intelligent or not but that’s the way I play,” Henry told Arsenal Player.

“I am going to try to bring what I can. Maybe another time it won’t be enough but I will always try my best.”

‘Immense desire’
Henry, who recently saw a statue of himself unveiled outside the Emirates, added: “I love the club — I say it so many times. We are not going to redo the story — I just love the club and that’s how it is.

“If the boss [Arsene Wenger] needs me for 30 seconds, a minute, if he doesn’t need me, I am going to try to be around the guys and help in the dressing room.

“I am here to be another player, to help the squad and that is it.”

Wenger was delighted to have his compatriot back on board.

“What is good for the young players at the club is that a guy like Thierry, who has done it all, comes and prepares 100%, warms up, is focused and motivated, and comes on with an immense desire to do well.”

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was not surprised by Henry’s performance against Leeds.

“I watched the game and knew Henry would score, it was written, some are meant to happen. It was just amazing,” Redknapp said.

“I hope he doesn’t make too big an impact because we want to finish above Arsenal this season, which is not going to be easy, but I am sure he will have some impact on the football club.

Club greats
“Having people like that around the place is worth their weight in gold.

“They are good professionals with good habits, the young players can learn more from watching them every day than they can from being coached by anybody.”

Redknapp, who last season tried to bring David Beckham to White Hart Lane from the MLS on a short-term loan, joked Spurs would be recalling some of their club greats to counter Henry.

“We might combat him with either [Glenn] Hoddle or [Ossie] Ardiles, so we will be ready for him. Graham Roberts or Paul Miller is going to come out of retirement to kick him,” said a deadpan Redknapp.

Henry’s return followed Manchester United’s shock recall from retirement of Paul Scholes for their FA Cup win against Manchester City and Redknapp said: “It’s a bit scary when you look around and see they are still better than some of the younger players.

Henry was joined at Arsenal training on Tuesday by fellow Frenchman and former Gunners team-mate Robert Pires.

The 38-year-old Pires, who had a spell at Aston Villa last season, told his followers on Twitter: “I am training just to maintain my fitness level! But thanks I appreciate you all want me back at Arsenal!” — AFP

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Julian Guyer
Guest Author

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