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Sometimes, Arsene Needs To Break His Own Rules
Stories are making the rounds this morning regarding the future of William Gallas. At 32, Gallas is more than two years past Arsene’s imaginary new contract threshold. As we all know, in the past, Arsene has refused to give multi-year contracts to players over the age of 30. However, in this case, Arsene needs to break his own rule.
There is no doubt that William Gallas has finally began to show the kind of form that made him a regular for Chelsea’s back-to-back title-winning sides five years ago. Gallas had originally emerged after an injury-laden debut season with the club as captain of the young 2007-08 side. His fiery temperament served him and the club well for the first half of the season, which saw him score match-tying goal in stoppage time against United and also the winner against Chelsea, both at the Emirates.
However, his temper finally caught up with him on a cold night in the midlands in February of 2008. I’m sure we all remember the incident and, I have to admit, that even to this day, I can’t even begin comprehend what he must have been thinking when he sat on the other side of the pitch as the penalty was being taken. Gallas retained the captaincy for some time but his removal as skipper was inevitable.
I thought that if Wenger removed the captaincy from him that he would implode even more and that he would need to be sold. In the meantime, there was the incident with the book and some bad press in France. But, following his removal from the captaincy, Gallas seemed to gain a second wind during the latter half of the 2008-09 season. It was quite unexpected and showed that Gallas was perhaps far more mature than many gave him credit for. The club’s defensive run from January on was a prime factor in Arsenal retaining its Champions League place for this season.
Gallas was further revitalized when Kolo Toure was sold and replaced with Thomas Vermaelen. The Gallas-Toure pairing never worked and something needed to be done. Toure, though I love him to death for all he did for the club, was not a true centre-half and Gallas was forced many times to compensate for this. But, since pairing him with a natural, left-footed centre-half, Gallas has been free to worry only about his job and we have seen in the last year that he is still more than equipped to do that job well.
Our steadiness in central defense this season is a huge factor in the club’s form over the first half of 2009-10. Vermaelen has been fantastic and he developed a solid partnership with Gallas from day one. That understanding has only increased as the two have started every Premier League match, all but the last Champions League group match, and the 3rd round FA Cup tie with West Ham. For years, the title-winners have always had this kind of steadiness in central defense, i.e. Terry/Carvalho and Ferdinand/Vidic, and we are finally seeing the benefits of this kind of consistency.
At this time last year, I thought that it was a given that Gallas would go on a free back to France at the end of his contract. However, it would be sheer lunacy at this point to not give Gallas a new, multi-year contract. Djourou’s long-term injury means he will have lost nearly a season of developmental time and, apparently, Senderos is not a real first-team option anymore. Also, considering that Wenger just gave Tomas Rosicky, who is 29 and has been injured for almost two years, a new contract, it seems likely Gallas will probably hold out a bit since this will be his last chance at a big payday, but that Arsene will make a multi-year offer and he will accept.
In match news, as of 2:30pm GMT, the match against Bolton Wanderers is still on.