Henry does it his way, ending on a high note

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2

The Stadium of Light

Thierry Henry called it his last game in the Premier League, but then Frank Sinatra used to say something similar about each of his farewell tours. Time will tell on that one; like Arsène Wenger, he was ambiguous.

But when Henry, applauded on to the field of play in the 66th minute by all four sides of the Stadium of Light, later called it "a magical day", there were no arguments; a bit of Wearside angst perhaps in that the home side were genuinely unfortunate not to pick up at least a point, but a 92nd-minute winner, for a player who has illuminated so many grounds up and down the country, felt the perfect way to say goodbye.

Of course it was in front of the travelling support. "To be able to celebrate with all the Arsenal fans, who have come such a long way, it really was magical," he said. "It was a fantastic atmosphere and overall it was so special for me, with it being my last game in the Premier League.

"Emotional? When it comes to Arsenal I am always emotional. I don't want to think about it too much, to be honest. I just want to do my best to help the team. Looking at the results, everything seemed to go our way and now people need to keep on going and make sure we stay where we are.

"I knew when the final whistle blew that this was my last game in the Premier League, but I guess you can never say never. I never thought I was going to come back and play for Arsenal. Who knows if I can say that this was definitely the end? It could be different. Always I say it's kind of difficult for me to say 'no'. If they need some help one day, I'll be around. Who knows? That's why I celebrated so much with my team-mates and the fans. We will see. We have another game now against AC Milan and we have just got to try and get some momentum going. I said that to the lads in the dressing room."

It was interesting to listen afterwards to Wenger, whose decision to bring Henry back was justified in that moment, in injury time, when he slipped between Michael Turner and John O'Shea to score the winner.

"When you have done what he has done in the game, players are just happy to listen to him," said Wenger. "He gives a lot of positives, he makes sure to keep the confidence level high because we had gone through a crisis when he came and when you are young, players' confidence drops quickly, but he came in and the spirit in the camp was raised.

"Every player is different; with Thierry, I gave him his start when he was 17 at Monaco, then he came to Arsenal, then after Barcelona he came back here, so there are three chapters to our story in the book and the history we have had together is a bit special. You do not often meet the same player three times. Now he has to go back to the Red Bulls. We will see next season; maybe he might want to stop at some stage as well."

Sunderland's bravery could easily be forgotten. They led for five minutes through James McClean before another Arsenal substitute, Aaron Ramsey, equalised. That they felt so disappointed to lose to a team with genuine ambitions for the top four seems highly significant, given where they were two months ago when Martin O'Neill was appointed manager.

"It was a great effort from the lads, but obviously we're disappointed with how we've lost the game in the first minute of injury time," said their captain, O'Shea. "It's a bitter pill to take because we've done well in the game." Still, this was not their day; perhaps it was never supposed to be.

There has to be a hope that this really is it for Henry; scoring the winning goal in a real game, against the Premier League's form team. Reviving Arsenal, as he always did. Leaving the kind of memories that can be cherished.

Match facts

Sunderland: MIGNOLET 7/10; BARDSLEY 7; O'SHEA 6; TURNER 7; RICHARDSON 7; LARSSON 6; GARDNER 8; COLBACK 7; CAMPBELL 6; SESSEGNON 6; McCLEAN 7

Scorers: Sunderland McClean 70 Arsenal Ramsey 75, Henry 90.

Substitutes: Sunderland Ji (Campbell, 87). Arsenal Henry 8 (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 66), Ramsey (Mertesacker, 72), Arshavin (Walcott, 87). Booked: Sunderland Richardson, Campbell. Arsenal Rosicky.

Man of the match Gardner. Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Sunderland 47% Arsenal 53%.

Attempts on target: Sunderland 6 Arsenal 8.

Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire) Attendance 40,312.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones