Gilberto disappointed, Gallas delighted
A really interesting story has broken today with the news the Arsenal captain who never was, Gilberto Silva, was not told directly about the decision to appoint William Gallas in the role by manager Arsene Wenger. Gilberto explained that whilst he was not disappointed about being overlooked for the Arsenal captaincy he was disappointed about the way the news was broken to him.
“I was surprised [Wenger] didn’t speak to me about his decision. He had the time to do it because I was at the training ground before it was made public. He didn’t say anything to me and I just found out about it that evening when I saw it on the Arsenal website. I wasn’t upset about not being captain, but I was about the way I learnt about it.”
It was obvious that before the decision was made, Gilberto was the popular choice for captain in most people’s minds and it was a real surprise when the news broke that Gallas had been named. You really have to feel for Gilberto about this. He has been nothing but an excellent servant of the club and to be treated this way by Wenger is a quite shocking. Wenger has always been known as a great nurturer of talent and a respectable human being but there is no excuse for him not telling the Brazilian about his decision surrounding the captaincy. Or is there?
Why was Gilberto not told?
For this to make any sense you have to ask the question, why didn’t Wenger tell Gilberto that he would not be named captain? Is it because he wants to sell him and did not want to tell him the truth? Maybe. Is it because he wants to phase out his responsibilities during this season and blood in the likes of Abou Diaby and Mathieu Flamini? More probable. Either way, something has definitely changed in the way that Wenger now values Gilberto.
The decision to name Gallas – a man who has displayed an outspoken nature and determination throughout his career – suggests that Wenger wants someone to represent Arsenal in a more intimidating way. The younger players need to believe they can tough it out against intimidating clubs like Bolton and Blackburn and maybe this is the a way that Wenger believes this can be achieved. Recent comments from new captain Gallas suggest this may be the case:
“We have shown everybody already we can fight. Maybe something will happen this year, maybe we can win something, I don’t know. But the squad is very compact. They want to win and they want to fight.”
Wenger is not known to make mistakes like this so there must be reason behind all this madness. There have been times when supporters have complained that Wenger has lacked the decisiveness of managers like Sir Alex Ferguson to make the tough decisions and cut players loose because it is best for the club. Gilberto has always been a great servant, but has Wenger now decided he does not want him to help anymore? Personally I think Gilberto is a valuable asset to the team and should remain a big part of the club for at least another year or two. Whether Wenger sees this as the case is another matter entirely. It is a very interesting situation and one that we may find out more about before the tranfer window closes on 31 August.
Rosicky v Fabregas v Hleb
In more positive news, Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky has revealed that he has a bet going with Cesc Fabregas and Alexander Hleb about who will score the most goals this season.
“The three of us, we are preparing a bet – the one who scores more goals will win. We still don’t know what the prize will be but that decision will be made soon.”
It might not seem like much but I think this little bet says a lot about the team spirit at the club at the moment. These sort of things don’t just come from nowhere and it suggests that Hleb, Fabregas and Rosicky have bonded during their time at the club. Just on the actual bet, it’s actually a pretty tough call. If I had to pick one I’d go for Hleb but in all reality I think any one of the three could end up as the higher goalscorer. I’ve got a new poll going and I’d love to see what you think.
Lehmann & Sparta Prague
Finally today, German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has admitted that his mistake against Fulham in the opening minute was the worst of his career.
“I have never taken such a woeful first touch in my entire career. I first wanted to play the ball out to my left. However, I changed my mind midway through. If that is the way the season begins for me, it can only get better.”
I have admired Lehmann’s attitude after such an awful error. There are plenty of goalkeepers who would’ve crumbled after a moment like the one against Fulham and the thing I like most about Lehmann is his ability to remain unaffected by his own mistakes. At the end of the day he doesn’t make any more than the average goalkeeper and he rarely, if ever, compounds one error with a second one. His bungle aside, I actually thought Lehmann had quite a solid game against Fulham, making numerous saves and looking confident against the high ball. There will be many people thinking he deserves the axe after his mistake, but I am certainly not one of them.
I’ll just finish by mentioning that Arsenal play Sparta Prague away on Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo da Silva and Gilberto should all be missing for the trip, but I still think we have a great chance to win. I mentioned earlier that it’s quite a tough tie, but if Arsenal can’t get past Sparta Prague then they really don’t deserve to play in the competition. Arsenal should line up exactly as they did against Fulham, perhaps with Diaby and Theo Walcott in for Flamini and Emmanuel Eboue, just to freshen things up. I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch the match but if I do you’ll here my personaly review of the game as soon as I get around it it. And for the record I’m predicting 1-0 to Arsenal with Hleb to grab another goal.
Update: The squad for Arsenal’s game against Sparta Prague has been named and you can find it here. As expected, Adebayor, Eduardo and Gilberto are all missing as well as Denilson and Diaby. I can see a starting line-up very similar to the one against Fulham. Enjoy the game.
What do you think?