Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Cesc Fabregas will be available for Tuesday [Champions League match versus Dynamo Kiev] and maybe Gallas. The most important thing for us is to keep strong, united, focused and not panic. We haven’t lost our football in three days so therefore, let’s go and win our next game. That is difficult, I don’t deny that, but there’s no need to be desperate as well.” – Arsene Wenger.
Runner-up: “It’s always the big four that everyone speaks about, but itâ€™s still about Chelsea and Man U. Arsenal are already behind, which makes it very difficult for them. Liverpool are very good at this moment, but they are always a club for the Champions League, partly because they can put all their focus on one or two matches. But when you look at results and squads over the past couple of seasons, I think us and Man U are just a little bit stronger.” – Michael Ballack.
Today’s overview: After Fleet Street were ready to lend a helping hand to assist William Gallas in packing his bags at the weekend, many scribes turn up to work this Monday with their tails between their legs as it now seems that Gallas is staying at Arsenal.
The latest in the William Gallas saga is that the Frenchman is being brought in from the cold by Wenger. The Daily Express paint a picture of public humiliation claiming that “Gallas is likely to have to say sorry to the whole squad before training this morning before Wenger reinstates him â€“ a stipulation that could well represent far too large a helping of humble pie for the deposed club captain.” Matt Hughes cynically suggests that Gallas’ motivation comes from the fact “the 31-year-old is aware that he will struggle to collect his Â£90,000-a-week wages elsewhere, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.” The same line of thought was adopted by Mark Irwin, writing “[Gallas] is earning Â£80,000 a week on a contract that runs until 2011. That equates to Â£10m. So an apology is likely to be forthcoming.”
Steven Howard suggests that Wenger is close to being mentally ill in his “aversion to spend… to achieve his dream of building a superteam based on youth and beautiful football. But this has become a self-destructive phobia. Clear thinking has been replaced by a stubborn compunction to prove himself right and everyone else wrong. It now threatens to consume him.” More constructively, Phil Shaw believes Wenger’s behaviour showed “the Arsenal manager indicated a better understanding of the adage about cutting off the nose to spite the face.”
A limited defence of Gallas is served by Aidan O’Hara, commenting “Wenger felt backed into a corner by Gallas’s comments and acted accordingly but, unless some heed is taken of the reasons behind his frustration, it will further emasculate a club whose reputation for being soft is hardening.” Yet sympathy for Arsenal is in short supply, as Alan Hansen (calling Gallas “an absolute idiot”) failed to mince his words on his critique of their performance at Eastlands reporting “they were so bad I could hardly believe what I was seeing.”
Martin Samuel turns on the Arsenal manager, writing “the mantra that ‘Arsene knows’ is looking increasingly like whistling to keep the spirits up. He is a brilliant manager but has spent too much time of late proving his critics right. In the end, Philippe Senderos was not good enough; Gallas was not a leader; Mathieu Flamini should have been replaced with a combative midfield player in the summer; the present squad is too young and too fragile to sustain a challenge for the title; Nicklas Bendtner is not a top-line Barclays Premier League striker.”
Reporting on Tottenham’s defeat of Rovers, David Pleat charged Blackburn with needing “to be braver. When reduced to 10 men and chasing a deficit, you need to adopt a more direct and simpler game.” Rob Smyth added more harsh words in Blackburn’s direction, reporting that with three points in eight league games “Blackburn have ski-sloped after a decent start to the season. Having slipped to second-bottom, they do not have much further to travel.”
In other news, Sam Wallace belittles suggestions that Alan Shearer is playing politics with Newcastle, advising the former number 9 that “the ideal place for him to start [management] is pretty much anywhere but St James’ Park.” Mark Hateley speaks to Nick That arcane fact is evidence that, this season, none of the big four has yet hit barnstorming form.”
With Inter beating Juve in Serie A, Ben Findon pinpointed “Mourinho’s masterstroke had been to restore wayward Brazilian Adriano to partner Ibrahimovic up front, supported by Dejan Stankovic in an attack-orientated 4-4-2 formation.”he can change his tactical approach and face adversity head on.”