“Arsenal are at war” & “Fabio Capello is untouchable, halfway between Sir Alf Ramsey and God”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We are not brave enough in battle. I think we need to be soldiers. To be champions, you have to play big matches every weekend and fight. We are coming up against teams who are not scared to play football against us, who are not scared to take us on at our place, and this is becoming dangerous for Arsenal. We have to be warriors. That is how the team will forge their character and experience…  There was a problem at half-time of the 4-4 draw with Tottenham, the only thing that I could say at half-time was ‘guys, we resolve these problems after the match, not at halftime’. When as captain some players come up to you and talk to you about a player… complaining about him… and then during the match you speak to this player and the player in question insults us, there comes a time where we can no longer comprehend how this can happen, I am trying to defend myself a bit without giving names. Otherwise I’m taking it all (the blame). I’m 31, the player is six years younger than me… I have to win something this year. I have to win something, Arsenal has to win something. It’s four or five years since Arsenal won anything – 2004 (the league title). That’s nearly five years, and that’s not good.” – William Gallas.

Runner-up: “We’d started a small-sided game at training on Tuesday and, after about three minutes, he called it to a halt and told us it was all wrong, he sees it, he says it and tells you no matter who you are. There’s no ambiguity. That’s what we’ve needed.” – David James on Fabio Capello.

Today’s overview: The spotlight is removed from Fabio Capello somehwat this morning due to William Gallas’ crazy outburst.

The main story in The Sun claims Arsenal “are at war” and that “William Gallas is set to be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after an explosive attack on his players tore the Gunners apart.” In the same paper Steven Howard adds to the criticism of the Frenchman, “Can you imagine Tony Adams or Martin Keown coming out with this sort of self-serving ‘I’m not to blame’ drivel?  For them, the Arsenal ethos was always ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. Well, Gallas has ensured everyone knows how divided this Arsenal dressing-room is.”

Jason Burt (Independent) writes of the Gallas outburst, “Given that Arsenal are trying to rally themselves from a disappointing start to the season and also the severe blow of losing Theo Walcott to injury for three months, then Gallas’s timing could not have been worse.” And Jim White in the Daily Telegraph argues that “Arsenal need half-a-dozen leaders – and William Gallas isn’t suited to be one of them.” Matt Hughes believes the “outburst goes some way towards explaining the club’s problems this season.”

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In other Premier League news, the exclusive in the Daily Mail today, from Neil Ashton, claims: “Mark Hughes has crushed the latest dressing-room unrest at Manchester City after it emerged two of his senior players refused to warm up in last Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Hull City. Sportsmail can reveal that Dietmar Hamann and Michael Ball were ordered to play for Manchester City’s reserves on Tuesday night against Bolton after ignoring instructions to prepare to come on as substitutes at the KC Stadium.”

Tony Paskin in the Daily Express sensationally reveals that “Newcastle United were on a state of high alert last night as it emerged that Alan Shearer has already selected his ‘staff’, should he be offered the manager’s job. Former Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee, Shearer’s long-time friend, revealed this week that Shearer was finally ready to take over the job if club circumstances were right. Now it is understood that Lee will be installed as Newcastle’s No2 if Shearer becomes the next manager of Newcastle.”

And, after signing his payoff yesterday with Spurs yesterday, Juande Ramos talks to Guillem Balague in The Times. Money quote: “I can only thank Spurs and especially the fans for the treatment I have been given in all the time I have been here. Being in the Premier League was a dream come true, a fantasy I had since I started as a manager. Given the right chance, I would love to be back.”

The praise for Don Fabio comes from almost every quarter, Phil McNulty (BBC) writes of Fabio Capello’s “midas touch.” Neil Ashton (Daily Mail) pinpoints Capello’s “steely glares,” writing: “Sometimes he has plenty to say, sometimes he just fixes his players with an icy glare. Either way, England’s players are responding to Fabio Capello’s methods.”

Matt Lawton in the Mail praises Don Fabio but also analyses “the issues that still need to be addressed.” Kevin McCarra joins in the lauding of the Italian: “A gruelling test awaits anyone enlisting in Capello’s cause but the first year of his campaign suggests there could one day be glory to grasp.” Sam Wallace (Independent) provides the “10 ways in which the new coach has completely transformed the England team.”

Henry Winter adds to the chorus of approval, “England are moving hopefully towards South Africa because Capello is teaching them to play with their head as well as their heart.” And Simon Barnes also argues that “Fabio Capello is untouchable, halfway between Sir Alf Ramsey and God. Suddenly, the England football team have a place, a purpose, a meaning, a future. Suddenly we believe in England. That means we believe in Capello; all of us, watchers, journalists, pundits, players. We have no option.”

Aside from Capello, Richard Williams picks out Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry for praise and James Lawton features John Terry in an article titled: “Terry looks a little Moore like a great England captain.” Whilst Alan Smith is quick to cite Stuart Pearce as a major reason behind England’s recent form. Martin Samuel has a word of warning for the reserve players in the England squad after many of them were responsible for the win in Berlin, “Barely five minutes had passed after the 2-1 victory over Germany on Wednesday when Fabio Capello, the England manager, was confronted with one of football’s most enduring clichés: the selection headache.”

Away from England, Jonathan Wilson features Raddy Antic, the man who is reviving the Serbian national team. And Gabriele Marcotti in The Times writes of the proposed new EU super-national body’s wide ranging regulatory powers. Finally, in a tongue-in-cheek article Harry Pearson (Guardian) suggests Everton and Liverpool should share a team.

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