Wenger plans heart-to-heart with troubled Thierry

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger pursed his lips slightly, as is his wont when irritated, and set himself on an apparent collision course with his captain, Thierry Henry. "I want to sit down with him and tell him what I expect of him and where we go when he has recovered," he said.

The Arsenal manager went on to clarify that he was talking about the physical "preparation" Henry needs to do when he has fully overcome the injury that ruled him out of yesterday's meeting with Tottenham Hotspur. But there was an unmistakable mood that Wenger was certainly less than happy with his captain and his actions and the distraction it has caused.

Henry's injury is damage to the sciatic nerve and a painful neck. But what he has created is a right pain in the neck for Wenger even if his team responded with a vibrant, cohesive performance that offered up more questions than answers.

Indeed it set the mood, not for the first time, that maybe this young team, and notably strikers Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor, play better, and with less inhibition, without their best player.

On his way to the game, Henry had denied claims that he had rowed with Wenger but confirmed that he had left the club's training ground immediately after a discussion with the manager at which he was told he needed to rest.

"We all decided I was going to come back when I am fully fit," said Henry who went on to claim that period of rest might include missing next Sunday's meeting with Chelsea. "That is why I left the training ground upset," he said. "Unless you are psychic you cannot know what happened. No one knows what we said to each other and still people are speculating. I just came here to support the team."

And he did do that. In the tunnel beforehand he was there, dressed all in black but trying not to be the villain of the piece. He whispered words of encouragement to Van Persie, Adebayor and Jens Lehmann. Cynics would say Henry was aware the cameras were on him too.

During the match he sat next to the home dugout and once Adebayor scored it was to Henry he ran to. Little sign of the apparent exasperation the Arsenal captain has with the Togolese striker. At the final whistle Henry loitered by the touchline - Wenger had long since gone down the tunnel - and it was Van Persie, another for whom Henry's body language is clear, who nudged him on to the pitch to join in the celebrations.

"Today I would like to give credit to the team who responded magnificently," Wenger said. "I would like to speak about that more than the rest of it." He could afford to be dismissive. After all Arsenal had won. Was Henry in the wrong? "I don't know, you should ask him." There was a pause. Then he added: "I have said many times that this team is not a one-player team." At times it has not appeared like that, not least with the apparently endless saga last season as to whether or not Henry would sign a new contract or move to Barcelona.

Part of his procrastination was over Arsenal's ambitions and the players they needed to sign. He has indicated again that Wenger needs to move into the transfer market. The manager was having none of that either and, as he left, there was a lingering feeling that maybe one piece of business he should have done was, perhaps, to have let his highest-paid player go.

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