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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 May 2006, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Henry delight at Highbury finale
Arsenal captain Thierry Henry kneels down to kiss the Highbury turf
Arsenal's Thierry Henry kneels down to kiss the Highbury turf
Arsenal captain Thierry Henry said the 4-2 win over Wigan, which gave the Gunners fourth spot in the Premiership, was a fitting finale for Highbury.

After scoring a brilliant hat-trick, he said: "That was the perfect send-off.

"We are fourth in the league and the table does not lie after 38 games, so we deserve to be in this position.

"We've missed so many players this season and we did it the hard way. When I kissed the ground after my third, I was saying goodbye to this stadium."

Arsenal's fourth place means they take the last Champions League berth for next season ahead of Spurs, though they will have to qualify for a place in the group stages.

It was different this season as we weren't playing for the title but we deserve fourth place
Midfielder Gilberto Silva

Henry added: "It's not normally what we do, finish fourth, but we will take that this season.

"However we still have to play qualifying games so we are not quite in the Champions League yet."

Boss Arsene Wenger said he did not know whether finishing fourth would persuade Henry to commit his long-term future to the club.

"I believe we have something special happening here and I'll encourage Thierry to stay," said Wenger.

"He has given us no encouragement so far but we must respect that until he wants to make a decision.

"He knows how much we want him to stay and playing in the Champions League makes a big difference because players like that need to play at the top level."

Wenger admitted he would have been upset had Highbury's last game finished with an Arsenal defeat or draw.

"For the history of the club and for this building here, to finish on a high I am very proud," he added.

"We would all have felt guilty to have walked out of here on a low after what has happened here for years.

"There was fantastic excitement, strength of character and quality as well."

Gunners defender Ashley Cole said the players all admired Henry and wanted him to stay at the club.

"We will handcuff Thierry to keep him here," joked the left-back.

"He is a great player and a great friend to all of us but we have to wait for him to make a decision so we will just leave him."

Midfielder Gilberto Silva admitted it was vital for Arsenal to be playing in the Champions League when they move to their new stadium next season.

"It's very important for this club to be in that competition," said the Brazilian.

"With this season it was different because we weren't playing for the title but we definitely deserve fourth place."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Thierry Henry


Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger


Interview: Arsenal's Ashley Cole



SEE ALSO
Highbury finale photos
08 May 06 |  Photo Galleries
Arsenal 4-2 Wigan
07 May 06 |  Premiership
West Ham 2-1 Tottenham
07 May 06 |  Premiership
Spurs boss rues illness outbreak
07 May 06 |  Football


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