William Gallas had his doubters at the start of the season when he was named skipper of the side ahead of Kolo Toure and last season’s stand in Gilberto. People questioned his commitment to this club at times and others questioned why such an outspoken player was made captain. People wondered why he was given the armband after one injury ravaged season following his move from rivals Chelsea. For me the fact he was a winner, the desire he showed to win matches last season and the fact he was not afraid to speak his mind made him the ideal captain. Yes, Toure has been a loyal servant to the club and Gilberto filled in admirably last season but Wenger was spot on in my opinion. He knew Gilberto would not nescessarily be first choice and that Toure already had the job of leading a young back four. A captain must be outspoken and tough – look at Adams, Vieira and Keane
The last few weeks Gallas has shown what a player he is and why he was such a good choice as skipper. Three events in the last few weeks come to mind:
1. Liverpool vs Arsenal (Anfield): With the scores level at 1-1 Steven Gerrard broke through the midfield and hit a goal bound shot that looked destined for the net. Suddenly Gallas came out of nowhere and showed brilliant determination to block the shot and earn us a point.
2. Arsenal vs Man.Utd (Emirates): In injury time Gallas popped up at the back post with a really great finish to level the scores. Gambling, he showed great desire to get in the box and got his just reward.
3. Arsenal vs Wigan (Emirates): With Arsenal struggling to break Wigan down Gallas again ventured forward to get on the end of Sagna’s cross.
These 3 moments in matches summed up the desire to win within Gallas and yesterday his goal was as important as anything he has achieved in an Arsenal shirt. With Man Utd losing to Bolton it was important to put some distance – however small – between us and last years Champions. From the moment Marcus Bent fouled Denilson from behind Gallas was even more pumped up. He had a confrontation with Heskey that led to a booking and this spurred him on. In a way it made him determined to inflict pain on those doing the same to his team mates and the best way for him to do this was to get the winner. As soon as he played the ball to Bendtner and continued his run, it almost seemed like an inevitability he would be on the end of Sagna’s fantastic cross. Once the first went in, the game was over – Wigan never looked like breaching the defence.
Aswell as playing a part in the first goal, Nicklas Bendtner had an even bigger role in the second goal as he carried the ball out of our half and turned defence into attack within seconds. He timed the pass to Rosicky perfectly as he fed the Czech midfielder to slot home. It was a typical Arsenal counter attack. For me Bendtner is futher along the line of development than Walcott and he seems to have a far larger impact when it comes to goals. Everything Walcott did was lively but it did not always lead to an end product. He made some good passes and linked well with Adebayor and Eboue at times, he just needs a league goal to gain confidence. I just hope his injury is not serious as he looked in pain.
The interesting thing for me is that Eduardo cannot seem to get a start for Arsenal. I thought that after his performance for Croatia Wenger would give him the 90 minutes to try and get some goals in the League at last. The Croat can finish well and has pace to play alongside Adebayor. The thinking on Wenger’s behalf might be that Eduardo will feature more in the second half of the season once he has had the proverbial ‘6 months to settle’. His ability in front of goal can be crucial for us come the run in to this season.
With Hleb and Fabregas out injured and suspended respectively, we did struggle to create chances. Rosicky was his usual busy self and looked to force the issue like he does so well. He showed directness and purpose and got his goal late on. Lassana Diarra showed why Gilberto may soon move on. Flamini has been brilliant in the destructive role this season and Diarra showed he can do the same. If anything Diarra has better ball control and passing than Flamini, as well as the bite in the tackle of his fellow Frenchman. With some work in training (particularly his shooting) Diarra can push Flamini for the supporting role to Cesc. Eboue showed flashes of brilliance and he has the dribbiling ability to beat players and get to the byline. I partcularly like his partnership with Sagna which was working well yesterday. Denilson showed some good moments but had large boots to fill with Fabregas out and did not do enough to put pressure on the Spaniard. I cant wait to see Cesc back in action at Villa.
Alan Shearer summed it up briefly on MOTD: “Last season Arsenal would have drawn this type of game”. Once again we ground out a good result and march on into a difficult December with a small margin between us and United. Well Done Lads!
Almunia – 6
Sagna – 7 – Toure – 7 – Gallas – 8 – Clichy – 6
Eboue – 6.5 (Eduardo – 6) – Diarra – 7 – Denilson – 6 – Rosicky – 7
Adebayor – 6 – Walcott – 7 (Bendtner – 7.5)