Arsenal top guns return ahead of Euro clash

Champions League 2006 finalists Thierry Henry and Robert Pires train with team before key Marseille amid comeback talk.

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud, left, and former Arsenal player Thierry Henry warm up during the training session [AFP]
Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud, left, and former Arsenal player Thierry Henry warm up during the training session [AFP]

Arsenal manager Aresene Wenger has denied that Thierry Henry will return to the team after the Gunners great trained with the squad ahead of their Champions League match against Marseille.

Arsenal’s 36-year-old all-time record goalscorer joined Robert Pires, 40, a fellow 2006 Champions League finalist for Arsenal, in London on Monday, as Wenger put his squad through a light training session at their base north of London, in preparation for their Champions League Group F game at the Emirates Stadium.

New York Red Bulls star Henry had a loan spell at Arsenal in January 2012, when he scored against Leeds in the FA Cup and a winner in stoppage-time at Sunderland on his last appearance.

But Wenger said he had no plans to sign Henry up for another spell with Arsenal, despite the fact he is keen for more fire power up front to support star striker Olivier Giroud.

“They have no real target,” Wenger said of Henry and Pires, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“They just want to enjoy themselves and keep their fitness. When we have some room we invite them to play with us but usually they train separately to us.

“They like to come back to Arsenal, to practice. When they can join in, they do. They integrate well with the spirit of the team. Nothing more than that.”

Nothing to lose

Arsenal are top of Group F with nine points from four games, ahead of Napoli on goal difference and their head-to-head record.

Borussia Dortmund, last year’s beaten finalists, are third on six points, with Marseille fourth, having lost all four of their matches to date.

If Marseille lose their last two games, it could work out that three teams finish on 12 points and one of either Arsenal, Napoli of Dortmund will have to drop down to the Europa League.

“That’s always the case when one team has no points,” Wenger said on Monday.

“But we know what is at stake and we want to qualify and we know that tomorrow is a very big game in that final stage of the qualifiers. And we have an opportunity to do it at home.”

Wenger accepted his side would have to be on top of their game against Marseille, as there is no pressure on the French team and they can play with more freedom.

“They have nothing to lose and that always makes the French teams very dangerous,” Wenger said.

“They have quality, Marseille. They are in a better period at the moment, because they have just won their last two games and so that makes them a dangerous team to play against.”

Arsenal beat Marseille 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome in September with goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.

A similar result on Tuesday will take Arsenal to 12 points and they will start the game as favourites to win comfortably.

In Group F’s other match, Dortmund are at home to Napoli and Wenger’s men will be hoping for a draw there. 

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