Sunday, March 29, 2020
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Steve Sidwell put it perfectly. After Aston Villa’s victory last weekend the former Arsenal man left the Emirates with this gambit: “You come to Arsenal thinking you can pick up points." Steve hit the proverbial nail on the head.


What a departure from the ‘Invincibles’ era, when teams were beaten before they even took to the pitch. Lining up in the tunnel and looking across the opposition would see the towering figure of Patrick Viera behind whom stood the likes of Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry. A fearsome prospect.    


Look across the tunnel now and fear isn’t so readily struck. Walcott, Fabregas, Van Persie, Adebayor et al are exceptionally talented players, but they are not of the stature or calibre to intimidate the opposition.  


Nowhere is this better epitomized than the man who has stood at the front of the line. The sub six-foot central defender with a mohawk and the number 10 on his back - William Gallas. The Frenchman was much maligned even before his sit down protest at St. Andrews last season; but that ridiculous strop provided a symbolic representation of his inability to lead a team.   


Yesterday’s outburst was the final nail in his coffin. Although many thought Wenger shouldn’t have given the armband to him again this season, the Arsenal manager showed incredible loyalty. By questioning the bravery of his young charges during one of the most difficult periods in the club’s recent history, Gallas has done his manager a huge disservice.   


Essentially Gallas pointed the finger of blame at Van Persie. He revealed that there was a bust-up between the Dutchman and Theo Walcott at half-time during the game against Tottenham. He then went on to cryptically reiterate who the biggest trouble maker is: “I’m 31, the player is six years younger than me.” Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Eboue and Van Persie are the only players that fit that bill. “I am trying to defend myself without giving names. Otherwise I’m taking it all,” said Arsenal’s then leader of men.   


Coupled the uproar he has caused off it, the Frenchman’s performances on the pitch have been nothing to write home about. On the whole Gallas has been poor since signing from Chelsea. His move to Arsenal was to ensure he played in the centre of defense; however, his inability to deal with aerial threats and general lack of command explain why he has been predominantly deployed on either the right or left for both Chelsea and France.   


Wenger has acted decisively by stripping Gallas of the captaincy, and if it also means a Roy Keane-esque expulsion from the club then so be it. Gallas has shown that he is poor captain and his performances have been little better. The whole furor gives the perfect opportunity to give Cesc Fabregas the armband. With Barcelona’s own invincible football turning his head, the young Spaniard needs convincing that his future is at the Emirates. His own performances have been affected by the recent turmoil and if they are to lose him then the Gunners’ troubles really would escalate into a crisis.   


With Man City and Villa promising to open their check books during the transfer window, what happens between now and January 31st may very well change the face of the top of the Premier League. Arsenal need to keep Fabregas and to get him firing as their new captain. They also need to add some quality additions themself - including a possible replacement for Gallas - if the are to fend off the threat from the league's nuveau riche.  


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