THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LONDON — Thierry Henry is heading back to the New York Red Bulls on time after all.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said last week that he may try to extend the former France striker’s loan from Major League Soccer by two weeks to bolster his scant attacking options.
But Wenger said Friday that won’t happen.
"I would have loved Thierry to stay for two more weeks but he has to go back," Wenger said. "It’s only fair on New York."
An extension would have made the 34-year-old striker available for Arsenal’s Feb. 18 FA Cup match at Sunderland and a Feb. 26 game against local rival Tottenham — a match crucial for local bragging rights and Arsenal’s hopes of climbing back into the Champions League qualifying spots.
But Wenger will mostly rely on leading scorer Robin van Persie to lead the attack alone, although Gervinho will soon be back with the club after his stint at the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.
Henry has only Saturday’s English Premier League game at Sunderland and Wednesday’s Champions League match at AC Milan to play before returning to New York on Feb. 16.
The MLS season starts March 10.
Henry rejoined the club he quit in 2007 on Jan. 6 after training with the Gunners during the MLS off-season. He has scored twice in five substitute appearances over the past six weeks to extend his club-record haul to 228.
Speaking after Henry scored the final goal in last weekend’s 7-1 win over struggling Blackburn, Wenger said Henry had lifted the club since returning.
"How much, you can never give a percentage, but he was very positive and everyone takes his advice on board because he has delivered here and they want to deliver, too," Wenger said. "He is respected and he was very positive."