Henry eclipses Wright tally

Sparta Prague 0 Arsenal 2

Henry scored a two-goal burst on his return from injury against Sparta Prague.

Henry's superb double strike earned a 2-0 win and moved Arsenal within one point of the knock-out stages of the Champions League after just three group games, with two home ties left to play.

Having taken part in just one full training session with the first team after six weeks out with a groin injury, he was summoned from the bench after only 15 minutes when Jose Antonio Reyes went off with a rib problem.

Within six minutes of his arrival, Henry equalled Wright's all-time club mark of 185 goals and, with 17 minutes left, he beat the record with another accomplished finish.

His first goal was something special. He controlled a long ball forward by Toure on his instep, spun and curled an exquisite shot with the outside of his right boot into the far corner past the despairing Blazek.

And he struck for a fifth time this season in the second-half, when he latched onto Pires' excellent through-ball and finished with aplomb as he clipped his shot past Blazek.

He declared: "It sounds great to hear 'Thierry Henry, record goalscorer for Arsenal'. Their fans didn't realise why I was celebrating like that - I was trying to draw the number 186 in the air.

"Wrighty was a great player and will always be a legend at Arsenal. To beat his record is tremendous. I wanted to do it at Highbury but if I get the chance to score, then I will take it.

"It was an important victory for us after the West Bromwich Albion (defeat, at the weekend). We showed our character. I was happy to put the ball in the net and delighted to get the record."

Henry's goals underlined his importance to the club, although he was reluctant to discuss his long-term future, with less than two years left on his contract.

"It's really important to concentrate on this season and see what happens. I will discuss it at the end of the season," he added.

"I've seen a lot of speculation but whenever I step onto the pitch, I give it all my heart and play 100%. You can never doubt my commitment on the pitch and hopefully people will respect that."

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, revealed he had considered not bringing on Henry when Reyes went off injured as he had only planned to use the France international for at most 30 minutes as a substitute.

"He'd only had one short session with the team in 37 days and that's not a lot. I didn't expect him to be on the pitch after 15 minutes and neither did he.

"When I told him he was going on, he just looked at me," he said.

"But when he came on, he wanted to score so much that he kept on trying and his class allowed him to score the first goal.

"It's an exceptional record. He's beaten it in a short time and he's not even a typical goalscorer. He's an all-round player, not a guy who lurks in the box.

"It's really unexplainable that a guy who is not only interested in scoring goals should score so many goals. He'll not only have a place in the history of Arsenal but in the history of football.

"He's still just 28 and Ian Wright was 33 or 34 when he broke Cliff Bastin's record. Thierry has a lot of time in front of him and there is a lot more to come from him."

With nine points from their three group games, Arsenal are now realistically just one point away from the knock-out stages, with a home game against Sparta to come in a fortnight's time.

"We have virtually qualified now, not completely, but I think we will go through. In the Premier League, things have gone against us but the opposite is true in the Champions League," concluded Wenger.

SPARTA PRAGUE: Blazek, Pergl (Matusovic 70), Petrous, Lukas, Kadlec, Petras, Pospech, Zelenka, Kisel, Polacek, Slepicka (Dosek 77).

ARSENAL: Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Cygan, Clichy, Fabregas (Owusu-Abeyie 89), Flamini, Silva, Pires, Van Persie (Eboue 73), Reyes (Henry 15).

Ref: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).

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