Once bitten, twice shy. Not a term you would associate with the current captain of Arsenal Football Club, William Gallas. On an auspicious day where Arsene Wenger celebrates the 12th anniversary at the helm of the club, he was let down by the same player who lost the plot last season. This wasn’t in the script, not after the wonderful performance of an even younger Arsenal team that tore Sheffield United apart.
The only error that Wenger made this season is not letting go of players like Flamini or Hleb and also not in signing Nasri and Ramsey but rather it is the continuation of captaincy in the hands of one William Gallas. His antics nearing the end of the Birmingham game last season was unforgivable. No Arsenal captain can or should be allowed to act in such childish manner. Tony Adams would’ve made mince meat out of Gallas if he saw any player to that during his time. At Arsenal, the captain is a symbol of the club and at all times he should play with dignity and pride to lead the club.
Saturday was the third time this season in a space of 6 Premier League matches in which Arsenal conceded directly from a corner. It is also the 3rd time that the person that was supposed to be marking the goalscorer happen to be Gallas. Coincidence? I bet you not. On all 3 occasions he was too slow to follow his man. Concentration for 2 minutes must be beyond this Frenchman. All 3 eluded him with such ease that you start to wonder how the rest of the team responds when their captain doesn’t look to be bothered.
Wenger had the guts to drop Lehman after his early season follies; it is time to do the same for Gallas. Granted, Almunia was neither better nor more talented than Lehman but was still given the vote because Wenger felt that the mistakes were coming thick and fast. Gallas was a dependable defender whilst at Chelsea but none of it is seen in Arsenal colours. It’s hard for other players to play whole-heartedly when their captain is not. Although that shouldn’t really be the case but when one is designated as the team captain he should lead by example.
In the heat of all these, it is hard not to think of what might have happened with Phillipe Senderos. Outcast on loan to AC Milan with an option to buy, the young Swiss will be the one that got away. He had a wonderful career at Highbury and Emirates. Big and strong, he always had that sense of leadership and ability to command the defense. Ultimately his problem is not his confidence but rather the lack of it shown my Arsene Wenger. Why is it that Gallas’s mistakes are permitted but when Senderos commits one, he is dropped to the bench? Playing consistently and knowing your manager trust you are important especially in someone so young. His longest run in the squad coincides with Arsenal’s run to the Champions League final. It’s safe to say that his confidence has never been the same since the final. How can it be that even if you are playing so well and got the team into the final without conceding a single goal in the knockout phase and still got relegated to the bench for the showpiece finale.
The problem with Senderos is not his pace, not Drogba or Torres but the reluctance of his manager to persist with him even when the chips are down. We will do well to remember that the great Tony Adams was once a clumsy defender who turned out very well because the manager then persisted with him. Unfortunately, Senderos will never have such chance to prove the doubters wrong.