Questions asked of Gallas – can he find the answers?

This would have been the perfect week for Arsenal to sit his squad down and take stock of things but sadly we’re going to be without many of them as they go to play meaningless friendlies in midweek.

Bacary Sagna has been withdrawn from the French squad and as of yet we don’t know the extent of his injury – I really hope it’s not too bad because he’s been one of our most consistent players this season. I was delighted for him when he scored on Sunday, his eyes to the sky celebration illustrates his character and how strong he’s been to continue playing so well after such personal tragedy, and his departure had a big impact on the result, I feel. Fingers crossed.

William Gallas will be away with France (along with Mathieu Flamini and Gael Clichy) and he says the team will keep fighting.

We must play until the end of the season and then see. Football is like this. You never know. You can be back. They can lose some points. We have to be ready for the next game and do not give up. We can still win it. It is not finished yet, so we have to believe.

Nice soundbites but believing is one thing, going out and winning matches is another. We’ve got Bolton next and while they’re a pale imitation of the reasonable cloggers that fat walrus looking cunt put together they’re a team that’s scrapping for their life, so it’s not going to be an easy game by any means. Particularly when you consider the kind of form we’re in. I don’t suppose there’s any point in thinking about how we line up until later in the week, after the internationals and injuries all our players will pick up on international duty.

The Sun reports that some of the players are unhappy with captain Gallas after his criticism of Theo Walcott and his tearful sit-in after the Birmingham game. According to one player’s representative:

William has not behaved the way a captain should and has lost respect among some of the players. He went round all of them in front of the cameras before the Chelsea game trying to gee them up but some think it was a bit phoney.

I didn’t see the bit before the Chelsea game but some of the people on the forums here mentioned how a couple of the players looked less than impressed by his ‘motivational’ tactics. At the time it was possible to try and excuse Gallas’ behaviour at the Birmingham game, the circumstances were extraordinary, but more and more it looks like the defining moment of the season, the one image everyone will remember, is that of Gallas’ tantrum. When you add to that his abject performances in the Carling and FA Cups it’s not a surprise that some people might have an issue with a captain who seems to pick and choose his games. Gallas has the chance to turn it around but as I’ve always said the talk has to be backed up with performances on the pitch and at times he’s fallen short this season.

Kevin McCarra in the Guardian suggests that Arsene might need to rethink his philosophy a bit and actually spend some money to improve his squad. I’m no great fan of McCarra, he’s quite capable of shit-stirring, but I think he’s got a point here:

A 5-1 trouncing by Tottenham in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final undermined any trust that a remarkable generation is emerging. The fans rightly feel a profound debt to Wenger and only that can have made 7,000 of them bite their tongues at Old Trafford in the 4-0 FA Cup beating. Senior players were guilty of dereliction of duty there as they failed to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere in a makeshift selection.

We might not have wanted the FA Cup this season but the way we performed in that game was little short of disgraceful. I said it at the time, defeats are acceptable when you know the players have given 100%, but this was a game that the captain wasn’t interested in and that was a factor in the result.

Look, this isn’t meant to be a hatchet job or anything like it, but while Gallas has been much, much improved on last season it would be wrong to sit back and not level some criticism where it’s justified. If it helps him become a better captain, because I don’t see anyone else being given the job for next season, then well and good. He’s got some games between now and the end of this campaign to lead this side to a trophy – it’s not all over by any means in the league and we still have the Champions League. But captaincy is not just a speech before the game, it’s a 24-7, 365 job. Always on. Not just when you feel like it.

All that said, I think you always have to question the veracity of a Sun report, but if there’s any truth to it at all then it’s worrying. The other point about how some of the youngsters, so lauded, might not be as good as we’d like to think they are is worth discussion but not today. I really think any dissection of the squad can wait until the end of the season. There’s plenty of time to discuss how we might need to strengthen in the summer …erm… in the summer.

Update: The Mirror picks up on this story with some quotes from Tony Adams about the Gallas speech. And thanks to Bigarse you can download the pre-game speech here – I have to say I cringed watching that. If you know there are TV cameras there tell them to fuck off or at least say what you have to say to the lads in private. Don’t air stuff like that in public.

Mathieu Flamini is not ready to quit either. He takes a walk down Believe Street and says that his agents have been talking to Arsenal. I’m not sure about what, probably the US presidential election or global warming because it doesn’t seem to be about a new contract.

Jens Lehmann says he’s thinking about retiring after the European Championships in the summer. I suppose it would be something that crosses your mind at his age anyway but his current situation can’t be helping much either.

Cesc says he’s dreaming of another Champions League final against Barcelona. So am I, I have to say. Although I’d much prefer if it was against Fenerbache or Schalke. Revenge would be sweet but an easier game would be even sweeter.

The Mirror reports we might be interested in Lyon’s Hatem Ben Arfa. He’s unhappy at his club, there’ve been training ground bust-ups and all sorts. Smells of Wiltord. It might just happen.

And that’s just about that. More, I suspect, tomorrow.