LONDON, England, May 29 – Arsenal great Thierry Henry warned the club on Wednesday that they must set their sights higher than merely qualifying for the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side celebrated jubilantly after securing a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Newcastle United on the final day of the Premier League season, drawing criticism from some quarters.
Henry, who now plays for the New York Red Bulls, says the only thing worth celebrating this season was the fact Arsenal denied fierce local rivals Tottenham Hotspur a Champions League place.
“Putting Tottenham out of the top four, and I really do hope that’s what they were celebrating about, that’s the only thing you can celebrate,” he told Sky Sports.
“If you’re an Arsenal man through and through, that’s like winning something. I said it when we did to them in 2006. It wasn’t the fact that we qualified for the Champions League, it was because we kicked them out of it and we went in.”
Henry won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups during his eight-year spell with the club, and he said Arsenal should still be aiming for the top prizes.
“Yes, they finished in the top four, but there is only one champion — Man United,” the 35-year-old said.
“I’m a competitor so that’s the only thing I will remember from the season — Man United won the league. You’re going to have to do better than what United did this year.
“Chelsea I’m sure are thinking about the same thing right now, or Man City. Tottenham are going to think, ‘How can we come back into the top four?’ All the teams are going to be thinking, ‘How can we win this title?’”
Henry also paid tribute to Arsenal manager Wenger, who has been in charge since October 1996, and said it was difficult to imagine what life would be like when the Frenchman finally steps down.
“It’s very difficult to see Arsenal playing, one day, without Arsene on the bench. It’s going to be weird,” he said.
“I’d just love to have him there all the time, but we all know that’s not going to happen. One day he’s going to have to go, but it’s going to be hard. He’s not thinking of leaving.”