Sat, Dec 31, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Fans hope Henry’s ‘return’ will galvanize Arsenal

AFP and AP, LONDON

Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls waves to the crowd after winning the Emirates Cup friendly tournament in London, England, on July 31.

Photo: EPA

Arsenal fans are hoping news of Thierry Henry rejoining the club will inspire the side to victory over London rivals Queens Park Rangers today.

The 34-year-old France international, 34, scored a record 226 goals for the Gunners from 1999 to 2007 and has been training with Arsenal as his current club, New York Red Bulls, are in their close season.

Henry watched from the stands as Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves on Tuesday and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger late yesterday said the two-month loan deal “will certainly happen,” as long as an insurance agreement is reached with the Red Bulls.

With Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh scheduled to take part in the African Cup of Nations next month, Arsenal are in need of extra fire-power and Henry does not have to be back in the US until March.

Certainly, there seemed to be little dissent on the training ground about Arsenal great Henry returning to the first team squad.

“I am very happy training with Thierry,” said Per Mertesacker, the Germany defender. “He shows his class and to have him with us is great because he shows his attitude, his experience. He still has the same attitude he showed in a lot of games at Arsenal.”

Midfielder Alex Song added: “When I see him training, I am teasing him: ‘You could still play with us, you know.’ But he has never replied and just smiles.”

“What he’s achieved during his career is just amazing. He has nothing more to prove in football,” he said. “Today, he has the opportunity to give us a boost.”

Victory over QPR is the most pressing concern and Wenger is keen to avoid a repeat of the Wolves setback, which saw Arsenal fire in 23 shots against a relegation-threatened side that played almost a quarter of the match a man down following the dismissal of Nenad Milijas.

Indeed, Arsenal would be kicking off out of the European places in sixth if Liverpool won at home to Newcastle United yesterday, although a victory would see them rise to at least fifth and to fourth if Chelsea fail to beat Aston Villa.

Wenger is hopeful winger Theo Walcott will be available again following illness, but defenders Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos and Carl Jenkinson are still injured.

Queens Park Rangers are expected to add to the squad next month as well, but for different reasons: Manager Neil Warnock’s side will arrive at the Emirates Stadium only two places and three points above the relegation zone.

The Hoops will be looking to their own 34-year-old international forward for inspiration as Heidar Helguson, their top scorer this term with seven goals in 12 Premier League appearances, has just signed a new contract.

The Iceland international is set to stay at Loftus Road until 2013.

“I fought tooth and nail to keep Heidar here over the summer because I knew he could be a threat for us,” Warnock said. “We know he’s not going to play every game at his age, which is why we need to add to our options in that department. It’s something we’re working on and we’re quite hopeful we’ll be successful in our pursuit.”

QPR owner Tony Fernandes spent heavily in August bringing former England internationals Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips to west London. He has indicated he will back Warnock again in the transfer market next month.

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