Henry heading back to MLS from Arsenal on time

Thierry Henry is heading back to the New York Red Bulls on time

after all.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said last week that he may try to

extend the former France striker’s loan from Major League Soccer by

two weeks to bolster his scant attacking options.

But Wenger said Friday that won’t happen.

”I would have loved Thierry to stay for two more weeks but he

has to go back,” Wenger said. ”It’s only fair on New York.”

An extension would have made the 34-year-old striker available

for Arsenal’s Feb. 18 FA Cup match at Sunderland and a Feb. 26 game

against local rival Tottenham – a match crucial for local bragging

rights and Arsenal’s hopes of climbing back into the Champions

League qualifying spots.

But Wenger will mostly rely on leading scorer Robin van Persie

to lead the attack alone, although Gervinho will soon be back with

the club after his stint at the African Cup of Nations with Ivory


Henry has only Saturday’s English Premier League game at

Sunderland and Wednesday’s Champions League match at AC Milan to

play before returning to New York on Feb. 16.

The MLS season starts March 10.

Henry rejoined the club he quit in 2007 on Jan. 6 after training

with the Gunners during the MLS offseason. He has scored twice in

five substitute appearances over the past six weeks to extend his

club-record haul to 228.

Speaking after Henry scored the final goal in last weekend’s 7-1

win over struggling Blackburn, Wenger said Henry had lifted the

club since returning.

”How much, you can never give a percentage, but he was very

positive and everyone takes his advice on board because he has

delivered here and they want to deliver, too,” Wenger said. ”He

is respected and he was very positive.”