Henry is the best player in the top flight - and that's official

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Thierry Henry's final-day heroics which earned Arsenal fourth place in the Premiership also saw him crowned the Premiership's top player, according to official statistics.

Henry's hat-trick against Wigan in the last match at Highbury saw Arsenal steal the final Champions' League place from Tottenham, and Henry backed up his reputation as the division's top player by reaching the summit of the Actim Index on the last day of the season.

The Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard had led the index for most of the season as Chelsea retained their League title. But Henry's 0.64 rating against Wigan, while Lampard was rested for Chelsea's 1-0 defeat by Newcastle, saw him move from third to first to finish ahead of the England midfielder and the Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who stormed away from Old Trafford after being dropped for the season finale at home to Charlton.

The Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, came fourth followed by his England colleague Rio Ferdinand. Theo Walcott, selected in Sven Goran Eriksson's squad for the World Cup, finished 549th as he has not featured in any Premiership games since joining Arsenal in January.

Dennis Bergkamp has urged Arsenal's players to seize the day when they take on Barcelona in the Champions' League final next week. The former Ajax trainee turns 37 today and is set to retire after spending more than a decade in London after a £7.5m transfer from Internazionale.

Bergkamp has secured both domestic and European success with Ajax and then again in Italy, before becoming an integral part of the all-conquering Arsenal side of the late 1990s. He won 79 international caps for the Netherlands, playing in two World Cups, most notably netting a brilliant late winner to beat Argentina in the quarter-finals of France 98.

Champions' League glory, however, has eluded him. While Bergkamp prepares to be involved in a game as a professional for the last time, he is quick to impress on some of the younger members of the Arsenal squad just how special their trip to Paris will be.

"As a more experienced player, you realise how important it is," he said. "I have told a few of the guys over the past weeks that this could be the only Champions' League final they ever play in - there are no guarantees. I know how hard the club have worked for this - I have been there throughout those seasons. We had played probably the best football in Europe at some stage and got knocked out in the quarter-finals.

"I am sure all the players will realise that this could be a [one-off]. You have to focus - first of all enjoy it but as well you have to try to give everything to win it. There is some pressure on Barcelona because they have to show they are a great team, which they can do. But we have caused a few upsets this season and so have got the confidence as well."

Arsenal ensured they will at least get another crack at the Champions' League again next season, regardless of next Wednesday's result in the Stade de France, following a dramatic final day of the Premiership campaign when they beat Wigan, while Spurs, their rivals for the fourth Champions' League place, were beaten by West Ham.

Although Arsenal, who must pre-qualify, are not yet guaranteed a place in the group stages, Bergkamp was in no doubt of the significance as the club prepare for life at the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium next season.

"It is difficult to understand now, but when we move to the new stadium and the Champions' League group stages come up, and we are not there, then it would be a big blow for a club like Arsenal," he said. "It was vital that we at least were able to try to qualify. The main goal is achieved now, we do not have to worry, hopefully, about there not being Champions' League football next year.

"It takes a bit of pressure off the final and we can just go out there now and try to play football, show what we are good at, to play our normal game - then, of course, we always have a chance."

With Paris accessible for the non-flying Dutchman, there is every chance Bergkamp could make his 424th Arsenal appearance in the final. "I think I will be involved, hopefully in a playing way," he said.

The veteran striker, with 120 goals to his name for the Gunners, has been rewarded with a testimonial which will mark the opening of the new stadium in Ashburton Grove on 22 July.

As for the future, however, Bergkamp said he had no immediate plans to take up coaching. "I will just take a break, then see how much I am going to miss football, and see what I am going to do [afterwards]," he said. "What I like about football is playing the game, and the other side at this moment is not what I like to do. Maybe that comes in the future, but at the moment, no."

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