Henry in line for shock third Gunners spell

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has hinted Thierry Henry could make a shock return on loan from New York Red Bulls in January for a third spell at the club.

The Gunners’ record goalscorer enjoyed a brief spell back at Arsenal last season, scoring in a 1-0 win over Leeds in the FA Cup and hitting a last minute winner at Sunderland.

Wenger is set to lose forwards Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to the Africa Cup of Nations in the New Year and insists the 35-year-old Henry, who has been training with Arsenal during the American close season, still has something to offer.

“He has been practising with us. Will I sign him again in January? I don’t know. I don’t rule it out. He is sharp,” said Wenger.

“He gives you hope, especially when he comes on. That is the most important thing. He is a communicator, an extrovert, very intelligent. He can only give good advice to players because he was in their position when he arrived here.”

Forward Theo Walcott, meanwhile, is out of tonight’s Champions League fixture against Montpellier with a minor shoulder injury sustained in a heavy fall during Saturday’s derby win over Tottenham. Left-back Andre Santos has a stomach strain but Kieran Gibbs is back in the squad following a thigh injury while winger Gervinho is available after an ankle problem as Arsenal look to clinch a last 16 place.

Wenger’s men will seal their qualification from Group B if they beat the French champions at Emirates Stadium and Schalke win at Olympiacos.

“First of all we want to qualify, then try to top the group. Let’s just win the game,” Wenger added. “It is important on the back of the Tottenham game that we put in another good performance.”

THE GIBBS FACTOR

■ With Kieran Gibbs in the side this season Arsenal have won 56 per cent of Premier League and Champions League games, without him it has fallen to 29 per cent

■ He has been missed in defence; they average just 0.78 goals conceded per game with Gibbs but 1.71 without

■ His attacking impact should not be underestimated though; with him they’ve scored 2.11 goals and created 11.2 chances per game but netted 1.71 and fashioned shots 9.6 without