Arsene Wenger urges respect for William Gallas - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Arsene Wenger urges respect for William Gallas

Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal fans show William Gallas the respect he deserves should their former captain face his old club tomorrow - but defended the decision to strip the controversial Frenchman of the armband.

The 33-year-old left Emirates Stadium at the end of his contract during the summer, before then joining arch-rivals Tottenham.

Gallas had something of a colourful Arsenal career after he moved from Chelsea as part of the deal for Ashley Cole in August 2006.

After being installed as skipper following the departure of Thierry Henry, Gallas famously broke down in the centre-circle at Birmingham after a match which had seen Eduardo suffer a broken leg before then, in November 2008, he publicly questioned the spirit of Wenger's young side.

That outburst prompted Wenger to replace Gallas as captain with Cesc Fabregas, but the Arsenal manager maintains there can never be any question over the veteran defender's commitment on the pitch.

"When Gallas was on the pitch he gave 100% for the team and that is what you want to respect," Wenger said.

"After the statements exactly word by word is always a much more sensitive subject.

"But what I look at is just how much does the guy want to win, how much is he committed when he plays and on that front you can never fault Gallas because he was always 100% committed when he played."

Wenger added: "You are responsible for your own behaviour and not for the behaviour of other people.

"I think the basics of our attitudes at the club has always been to respect other people.

"We cannot dictate how other people behave we just want ourselves to respect him."

While the reception Gallas would receive will be under scrutiny, much of the other pre-match hype has been over just how Arsenal will cope with the threat of Gareth Bale, who helped rip Inter Milan apart in their recent Champions League clash.

While Wenger accepted it would be "important to keep Bale quiet", the Arsenal boss does not want to lose sight of the overall picture.

"Tottenham have many good players in their team and for us it is important we produce a good team performance and not to focus on a single player out in their team," he said.

"We should just focus on our performance, if our performance is right, as I think it will be, then we have a good chance to win."

Arsenal can, for a few hours at least, go above Chelsea to top the Barclays Premier League should they once again beat their fierce rivals at home.

"It is a big motivation for us because we have created a momentum, and have won five of the last six," said Wenger.

"We are the stage of the season now where we just want to go from game to game and get the points into our account, then see where we stand after.

"I always said since the first six games that it looks like the most consistent team will be rewarded."

Arsenal have no fresh injury worries from the midweek internationals, which saw several players involved in England against France at Wembley, which Jack Wilshere missed with a back problem.

Nicklas Bendtner is expected to be in the squad after missing the Everton game.

That was, officially at least, put down to the Denmark striker's recovery from a long-term groin injury rather than an outburst against his lack of first-team action.

"From what I can see he is 95% of his best and we hope he will contribute on our side to help us win football games and trophies," Wenger said. "We do not educate players to let them go."

Robin van Persie chalked up a useful 45 minutes for Holland in midweek as his recovery from an ankle injury continues.

When the Dutchman is fully fit again, then Wenger will certainly have plenty of firepower at his disposal.

"Robin has to get used to challenges again but technically and physically he is much better now," said Wenger.

"Like Bendtner, he is reasonably fit but of course players of that calibre are also very impatient to start and I have to consider as well the balance of the team, how well we have done in the last two away games."

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