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Premier League

Bacary Sagna declares 'war' on William Gallas

Bacary Sagna today declared war on former Arsenal team-mate William Gallas ahead of Saturday's north London derby.

But the Gunners full-back insisted the pair would resume their strong friendship as soon as the final whistle is blown at the Emirates Stadium.

This weekend sees Gallas return to his former club for the first time since crossing the north London divide in one of the most controversial transfers of recent years.

The 33-year-old Tottenham defender can expect a hostile reception from the home fans, many of whom will have branded him a traitor.

And Gallas will be very much the enemy as far as Sagna is concerned during the lunchtime clash.

"On the pitch there is a war, but off the pitch we are all friends," he told his club's official website, www.arsenal.com.

Indeed, Gallas' fellow Frenchman bears no grudge towards his former captain for joining Arsenal's arch-rivals.

"I'm not angry at him because he signed for our rivals," said Sagna.

"He was always very professional (here) and he always gave everything.

"Football is football; I'm not furious against him.

"He needed to leave to play football and that is what he loves."

Gallas' temperament was questioned during his time as Arsenal captain and he was infamously stripped of the armband after attacking his team-mates.

"That was his hunger because he wanted to win so much," Sagna said.

"Maybe he expressed it in a bad way but it was not bad at all because he wanted us to win."

He added: "He deserves a good reception because during the time he played for Arsenal he always did well."

Saturday's game also sees Sagna go head to head with the man he describes as one of the "most dangerous" wingers around.

The 27-year-old will become the latest player to try to tame the in-form Gareth Bale, who has been one of the stars of the season so far.

The Tottenham midfielder has made mincemeat of several full-backs during the campaign, including - twice - much-vaunted Inter Milan star Maicon.

Bale's performances have led to teams doubling up on him, something the 21-year-old had been struggling to deal with.

But he netted his eighth and ninth goals of the season in last weekend's 4-2 victory over Blackburn and will arrive at the Emirates on Saturday full of confidence.

He also got the better of Sagna on their last meeting back in April, netting the winner in a 2-1 success for Spurs.

The Arsenal defender believes it is too soon to start comparing Bale with the best players in the world but has no doubt of the threat he poses.

"He's doing very well at the moment but don't put pressure on him too early," Sagna said.

"At the moment, he's one of the most dangerous wingers."

Failure to stop Bale could cost Arsenal the victory they need to overhaul Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Three points in the lunchtime clash would take the Gunners above the champions and pile the pressure on them ahead of the latter's 3pm kick-off at Birmingham.

Arsenal have flattered to deceive since their 'Invincibles' side won the title in 2004 but Sagna insisted the current crop are ready to reclaim the crown.

"Of course everyone is ready, everyone is focused, everyone is motivated," he said.

"Now we have to do it."

Meanwhile, midfielder Tomas Rosicky is confident Nicklas Bendtner will stay at Arsenal, despite the striker's ire at a lack of first-team action.

Bendtner recently claimed he was "wasting time on the bench", prompting manager Arsene Wenger to tell him to show more patience.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away, with Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer recently suggesting the Bundesliga champions would consider signing him.

But Rosicky said in Ekstra Bladet: "Of course I believe he has a future at the club.

"He has been injured for a while, but obviously he has to be patient as (Marouane) Chamakh's playing well at the moment."