Henry still has Premier class – Mertesacker


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The Independent Football

Arsenal have made no formal approach yet to Thierry Henry about the possibility of him rejoining them on loan next month, despite their manager Arsène Wenger's refusal to rule it out as an option.

The 34-year-old would require the permission of his Major League Soccer franchise, the New York Red Bulls, were he to make such a move and that would require some negotiation. The player is in London and training with Arsenal but does not believe he has a decision to make on the issue until the club ask him to raise it with the Red Bulls.

Wenger was again asked about the possibility of re-signing Henry on Tuesday night and said that he expected "nothing at the moment" in terms of developments.

The Major League Soccer season starts in March and, given the demands of pre-season, the loan could only realistically be for six weeks at the maximum, provided that it began at the start of next week.

Per Mertesacker said after Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers that, in training, Henry still looked capable of playing in the Premier League for the club he left more than four years ago. "I am very happy training with him [Henry], very happy," the defender said. "He is playing very, very well. It is a great experience to play against him in training.

"[Re-signing him] is a great opportunity for us, but I'm not the manager, I couldn't make a decision on what is possible for him or for us. In training he shows his class and to have him with us in training is great because he shows his attitude, his experience. He still has the same attitude he showed in a lot of games at Arsenal."

Mertesacker also gave his approval to another of Wenger's potential targets when he said this week that Lukas Podolski, the Cologne forward, who is a Germany team-mate, would be a good addition to the team. Podolski is on the list as Wenger seeks to cover the absences of Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho at the African Cup of Nations in January and February.

Mertesacker said: "He is a great player, especially for the national team. He scores a lot of goals, he's a good striker with a very good finish with his left foot. His left foot is unbelievable and I'm a fan of him. In this year, he has scored a lot of goals. He is powerful as well, he's a great player. Us Germans are not so bad."

Arsenal expect that Jack Wilshere will be back in contention to play at the start of February following a long recovery from the stress fracture to his right ankle, which required surgery. The England international tweeted yesterday that he was taking ice baths to speed the recovery. The next four weeks of rehabilitation will be crucial to Wilshere returning to competitive action at the start of February.

Mertesacker said that the draw with Wolves, which meant that Arsenal did not move above Chelsea into fourth in the Premier League, was "a very disappointing result. We created a lot of chances. We had a big chance to go into fourth place, but we didn't do that. It was our fault. We had a lot of chances, particularly in the second half.

"We didn't score and that was the main problem. There are some days in the life of goalkeepers where something happens like it did for Wolves' goalkeeper [Wayne Hennessey]. Sometimes, somebody [has] great form and that was him."

Hunt: We must gang up on refs

The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Stephen Hunt has risked a Football Association charge by saying that his team-mates should put pressure on referees to send off opponents, following Nenad Milijas' red card against Arsenal on Wednesday.

Hunt said: "Everyone does it now, maybe we should be better at it maybe than any other team. We have been done in the past - Jonathan Woodgate [who could have been dismissed for a foul on Matt Jarvis this month] for instance - when we should have been surrounding him [the referee] to get him sent off. We don't do it when we get punished, maybe we should start doing it."