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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 6, 2006

Wenger: Henry will be Gunners skipper again

Arsene Wenger has demanded an end to criticism of Thierry Henry and insisted his position as Arsenal captain is not threatened by Gilberto Silva.

Henry has been targeted by players past and present in the French media amid speculation over Friday's bust-up with Wenger.

The 29-year-old missed the Premiership matches against Bolton and Tottenham with a sciatic nerve problem that could keep him out until the new year.

Gilberto has deputised as skipper in his absence and will lead Arsenal during tonight's crucial Champions League Group G qualifier against Porto.

But Wenger is adamant the Brazilian midfielder has only been handed the armband on a temporary basis.

He said: 'Gilberto will not stay captain when Thierry returns. Thierry will be the captain. At the moment, Thierry gets a lot of stick that he does not deserve.

'What he has done for the club is tremendous and he will again do a lot of tremendous things for us. But Gilberto is deputising for him and he is doing well for the team.'

Gilberto has impressed as skipper and has been hailed in some quarters as a more natural captain than Henry.

The 30-year-old converted two penalties in Saturday's 3-0 drubbing of Tottenham and Wenger revealed he possesses a steely resolve.

'Gilberto is a quiet type. But he is a strong leader - much stronger than people expect him to be. He stands up,' Wenger said.

'In fairness, he is not a penalty taker but the way he took them on Saturday takes something and that tells you a lot about his character.'

Wenger has challenged the club's younger players to fill the void left by Henry's enforced absence.

'Ideally, we want Henry to be playing but we have Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Jeremie Aliadiere and Theo Walcott and they can produce goals,' he said.

'When Thierry is not there, naturally it changes the game because a lot of the play goes through him. Now other players will have to get more involved.

'Adebayor compliments Henry very well but he can play on his own up front as well. The younger players will take more responsibility.'

Tonight's Group G clash has the potential to wreck Arsenal's campaign, as defeat, coupled with victory for CSKA Moscow in the pool's other game, would send them crashing out of the Champions League.

With their hopes of mounting a serious Premiership title challenge all but over, Arsenal need to stay in Europe to avoid another anti-climatic season.

In their favour is the knowledge a draw would see themselves and Porto progress to the knockout stages, but Wenger dismissed the suggestion the rivals will be looking to sharer the spoils.

'It's impossible to predict a 0-0 draw. We'll go out to win the game,' he said.

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