Thierry Henry has been cleared to make an emotional return to Arsenal’s team for Monday’s FA Cup clash with Leeds United – but Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan today warned: “It’s not all about him.”
Arsenal’s record goalscorer is looking to extend his astonishing strikerate against Leeds after agreeing a two-month loan at the Emirates Stadium, and Arsenal have intensified his training regime with the inLeedstention of unleashing him on United in 48 hours’ time.
Henry, whose move from the New York Red Bulls materialised just half-an-hour before the deadline set to register him for the FA Cup, tormented Leeds during an eight-year spell with Arsenal between 1999 and 2007, scoring 11 goals in 11 appearances against the Elland Road side.
The Frenchman ran riot on his last encounter with Leeds, striking four times in Arsenal’s 5-0 win at Highbury in April 2004, and manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that Henry – a winner of the World Cup, the European Championship and the Champions League – would feature in Monday’s third-round tie at the Emirates.
But United keeper Lonergan said: “If he plays then there’ll be a lot of attention on him but there’ll still be 10 others on the pitch who are perfectly capable of producing the goods. It’s not all about him.
“Henry’s probably one of the best players ever to play football in England, and possibly the world. He’s a World Cup winner and it would be nice to share a pitch with him.
“Personally I think he’s got a lot to offer so I can’t see any negatives to him going back there.”
Henry turned 34 last year and is winding down his career in Major League Soccer after a spell with Barcelona, but Wenger has turned to him to compensate for the loss of strikers Gervinho and Maroune Chamakh, both of whom will travel to the African Cup of Nations this month.
Wenger watched Leeds hold Arsenal to a 1-1 draw at the same stage of of the FA Cup last season, and the Gunners boss said: “I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do.
“Thierry works hard, he is a bit behind physically of course and I think in one or two weeks he will be fine. But he will be involved against Leeds.
“At the moment 90 minutes is a bit long for him because he has not played for a long time. But Thierry is a world-class player and even at this club a player of that dimension is always very difficult to find, especially at this period of the season. He can add something more to the team.”
Meanwhile, United have extended keeper Maik Taylor’s contract until the end of the season.
Taylor’s initial short-term deal was due to expire later this month but the 40-year-old will remain at Elland Road for the rest of the Championship term, providing cover for first-choice Lonergan.