The Great Debate: William Gallas and Arsenal.
What is going on at Arsenal?!
First fans call for the head of the most successful manager they've ever had after a string of poor results, then the club captain goes on a spectacular tirade regarding his team-mates and the lack of spine they are showing.
Yep, the crisis fever has travelled across North London and, after Harry Redknapp waved his magic wand to banish it from White Hart Lane, it seems to have found a nice, snug home at the Emirates Stadium.
Perhaps the cracks started to show way back in February in the now famous match against Birmingham, when the skipper William Gallas responded to a late penalty against his team in a very uncaptainistic way. (And yes I did just take a leaf out of Mr. Wenger's book and make up a word.)
As the penalty was being taken, Gallas stormed up the field, sitting down in the opposite half peering at the advertising boards through tear-filled eyes.
This, of course, created a sense that Arsenal were doomed even before the penalty was taken. In addition, if, by some miracle, the penalty was missed, Gallas would not be there to help out with the clearance.
After the match, he refused to leave the pitch and sat in the centre cirlcle, sulking. The picture above catches the moment perfectly.
His role as captain was analysed during the summer break, which drew attention to more problems at the normally placid North London club, chiefly the lack of depth at the club.
Arsene Wenger's transfer policies, which have often frustrated many an Arsenal fan, finally over-stepped the mark, as he let players like Mathieu Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto leave without bringing in replacements. Instead, he trusted the young players coming through the Arsenal ranks.
After a topsy-turvy start to the season, in which they lost to Hull, Fulham, Stoke and Villa but beat Manchester United, fans started to blame Wenger's transfer policies for the inconsistency and, for perhaps the first time in his Arsenal career, Wenger faced serious calls for his head.
Suddenly, Arsenal found themselves way down in a lowly fourth place and in a crisis. What West Brom or Spurs wouldn't do for a similar crisis now!
Gallas didn't help by undermining Wenger after being seen outside a night-club with a cigarette in his mouth, therefore breaking the rules "Le Boss" had set down while on International duty.
Very, very uncaptainistic.
And now, in the latest twist in the tale, William Gallas has spoken publically about some of the problems at Arsenal, singling out one player, without naming them, who was a particular problem.
Gallas did, however, say that the offender was six years younger than his 31 years of age. Which makes 25, right?
Now, the list of 25 year olds in the Arsenal squad are as follows:
Robin van Persie, Bacary Sagna, Eduardo, and Emmauel Eboue.
We can count Eduardo out as he hasn't played since that aforementioned match in February , where he picked up a horrific leg injury and Sagna is a known friend and International team-mate.
Gallas did however say that the incident came about during an attacking phase of play, which points the finger strongly towards van Persie. There is always the chance, however, that Sagna or Eboue were also involved in that attack.
Personally, I think that these comments were an attempt to inspire and lift a young team down on confidence, but they simply went wrong.
Gallas' comments about the team needing to be braver and the need to be soldiers were things a good captain would do. Due to Arsenal's and Gallas' recent plight, however, the media have turned these comments upside down so they look like an attack on his team.
The comments regarding the unnamed player may simply be the words of a man who speaks the truth, be it quietly to a friend, or to the world's press. Yes, the comments should have been made on the training pitch rather than in front of the microphones, but were they really as bad as it's being made out? No, I don't think so.
Would you rather a captain who ignored the problems altogether?
What these comments have done, however, is undermine Arsene Wenger one too many times. Should he be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy? I'm undecided. Should he play for Arsenal again? Of course he should! Let's be honest, he's probably the best centre-back they've got right now!
Overall, I think the "scathing attack" was more of a inspirational speech gone wrong.
Arsenal are not in a crisis. They are a good team going through a bad spell and, in trying to make it better, Gallas has just made things worse.
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