Thierry Henry rejoins Arsenal on loan
LONDON -- Thierry Henry attempted to dampen expectations among Arsenal fans after finalizing a two-month loan to the English club where he is among its most beloved players.
The French forward could begin his second spell with the Gunners in Monday's FA Cup third-round match against Leeds. He scored a club-record 226 goals for Arsenal in 370 appearances from 1999 to 2007.
He is held in such high esteem by the club's fans that he was voted the team's greatest player in a poll on its official website in 2008. There also is a bronze statue of Henry outside Emirates Stadium, but the 34-year-old warned supporters not to expect the same player who terrorized defenses in his first stint.
"I am not coming here to be a hero or prove anything. I am just coming here to help. People have to understand that," Henry said. "I'll be on the bench most of the time. If I can make the bench, that is."
Henry had to wait a week to secure the temporary switch while Arsenal finalized insurance agreements with the New York Red Bulls, his club in Major League Soccer. He will return to the United States for his team's MLS opener at Dallas on March 11.
"It is unreal, to be honest. But when it comes to Arsenal, my heart will always do the talking," Henry said. "I always said I was never going to come back and play in Europe again, but when the team you love and support asks you back, it's kind of hard to say no."
Henry will be available for January and most of February. He could appear in six league games, including the home match Jan. 22 against Manchester United.
There is a chance he also could feature in the north London derby against Tottenham on Feb. 26, although he said he may choose to return to New York before then to prepare for the MLS season.
"Even if it is just five seconds, one second, or just talking in the dressing room, I will give my best, whatever it is," Henry said.
Without a major trophy since 2005, Arsenal (11-6-3) is fifth in the Premier League, 12 points behind leader Manchester City (15-2-3) and one behind Chelsea (11-5-4), which holds the fourth and final Champions League spot.
"I am sure during these two months he will be a massive asset to the team in the dressing room and on the pitch," Wenger said. "He can be relaxed, not under too much pressure and be a tremendous help to the team."
Henry will act as one of the backups to Robin van Persie, who has taken over the Frenchman's mantle as Arsenal's star attacker and scored 17 league goals this season.
In 2011, van Persie scored 35 times in the league, one more than the previous club record for a calendar year set by Henry.
"Right now Robin is flying. I can be around and talk to him but he is doing what he does best -- scoring goals," Henry said. "When the boss spoke to me about coming back, I wanted to make sure I didn't disturb the team that was in place. That was important to me."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press