Oct 262008

It’s back to the action this afternoon as Arsenal travel to Upton Park to play West Ham in a match that hasn’t gone too well over the past few seasons. Three points would see us move four points clear of United, and to within a point of Chelsea, who finally lost their unbeaten home record to Liverpool this afternoon.

Team news sees Gallas return alongside Silvestre in defence, with Toure and Sagna on the bench, while Bendtner starts up front ahead of Adebayor, who is being rested for Spurs.

Unfortunately, the build up to this match has again been overshadowed by the actions of our captain, with Gallas this week photographed with a cigarette in his mouth. I can’t say he was smoking, because it was unlit, but these things aren’t exactly fashion statements so to claim that he had no intention of smoking it would be ridiculous in the extreme.

It might seem like a minor crime in the grand scheme of things, and it is, but it just adds to the catalog of black marks against his reign at the club. And I say ‘reign’ because it seems that is how he sees it.

He isn’t playing well, which is the first thing, and while he admits this himself you suspect that his frankness is an attempt to get the fans on side. But while players make mistakes on the field, he isn’t showing the defensive commitment as much as he should, his pre match team talks seem more for show than anything, and his comments off the pitch aren’t as captain-like as those of his ideal replacement, Fabregas.

But Wenger isn’t one to admit his mistakes quickly. Remember that this is man who gave Aliadiere chances for seven years before finally letting him go. He likes to prove the critics wrong, and while he usually succeeds, the Gallas experiment is surely not going to be seen as one his best decisions.

My opinion? Gallas’ reign as captain will end with him leaving the club, whenever that may be. It could happen next summer, but it is hard to imagine him staying in any other capacity.

But there are more important things to think about today, and that is how to get the three points from a West Ham side likely to play football under Zola, rather than shutting up shop. Here’s to a good game, and three points.

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