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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Saturday, 20 November 2010

Arsene Wenger wants respect for William Gallas

Barclays Premier League
Venue: Emirates Stadium Date: Saturday, 20 November Kick-off: 1245 GMT
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports 2 and highlights on Match of the Day; BBC Radio 5 live and local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

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Redknapp welcomes Defoe's return

Arsene Wenger has urged Arsenal fans to show former captain William Gallas the respect he deserves when he returns with arch-rivals Tottenham on Saturday.

Gallas, 33, left the Gunners when his contract ran out in the summer and was picked up by Spurs boss Harry Redknapp.

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

Redknapp stated: "I don't see why he should get abused. But he will be up for it, it will be hard for him."

Gallas had a controversial Arsenal career after he moved from Chelsea in August 2006.

After being installed as skipper the Frenchman famously broke down in the centre-circle at Birmingham after a match which had seen Eduardo suffer a broken leg.

And in November 2008 he publicly questioned the spirit of Wenger's young side, after which he was replaced as captain by Cesc Fabregas.

Wenger added: "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."

Arsenal can, for a few hours at least, go above Chelsea to top the 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," admitted 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."

Wenger believes Spurs pose a real threat, and says it is important to keep in-form winger Gareth Bale quiet.

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

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Spurs look to end a winless run at the home of their arch-rivals stretching back more than 17 years. But Redknapp said: "We're stronger now perhaps than what we were in lots of those years.

"First year I came two years ago, we had that 4-4 draw, which was an amazing game, so we can go there full of confidence."

Tottenham finished only five points behind third-placed Arsenal last season but are already seven adrift this term.

And with just nine points separating the top seven, Redknapp reckons victory could even ignite a Tottenham title push.

"You've to win these games if you're going to look to win a championship," he stated. The championship has never been so open.

"I think anyone who can put a run together out of the top group has got a real chance this season because no-one's walking away with it."

Spurs lie three places and three points outside the Champions League reckoning, meaning only a victory will do if they are not to risk falling further behind in the race for a top-four spot.

And Bale, who has been in terrific form this season, insists Saturday's encounter is another must-win match.

Wenger asks Arsenal fans to 'respect' Gallas

"We need to win every game we play at the moment," said the Welsh winger.

"We're good enough to beat anybody and we've shown that in the past. It will be a massive test away at the Emirates, but we'll be ready for it."

Those sentiments were echoed by Redknapp, who said: "It was close last year - there was very little between the two teams - and I think this year's exactly the same.

"Arsenal play fantastic football - let's be honest - and I think we do as well."

Redknapp has welcomed the return to fitness of Jermain Defoe ahead of Saturday's game. The England striker has been sidelined for just over two months following ankle surgery.

He has returned to training a month ahead of schedule and Redknapp said: "It's great to have him back. He's a fantastic goalscorer."

Tottenham do, however, have a host of injury worries, with the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Vedran Corluka and Robbie Keane ruled out.

There was some good news on Jonathan Woodgate's long battle with a groin injury, though, with Redknapp revealing: "He's got to go through a 'pre-season' next week, if you like, a month of real intensive, hard work.

"If he can come through that okay then there's real light at the end of the tunnel for him, which would be great."

Jack Wilshere should be fit for the Gunners after a back problem.

The injury prevented the 18-year-old midfielder from making his first start for England in the 2-1 defeat by France on Wednesday.

Manager Arsene Wenger told Arsenal TV: "He has a strain of a little muscle in his back - we'll know more on Friday."

Wilshere is not the only Arsenal player facing a fitness test on his return from international duty, with midfielders Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky also to be monitored.

Arshavin played in Russia's 2-0 home defeat by Belgium while Rosicky was involved in the Czech Republic's 0-0 draw in Denmark.

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"We have to assess Arshavin, who has still to come back," Wenger added.

"Rosicky is coming in later too. He had a tight hamstring, but should be OK.

"[Robin] van Persie had 45 minutes [for the Netherlands in their 1-0 win over Turkey], which was agreed. He needed that. We had someone at the game and he looked quite sharp."

Arsenal head into the match on the back of two encouraging away wins at Wolves and Everton, but the defensive frailties which have haunted Wenger's team this season have mostly occurred at home.

West Brom and, most recently, Newcastle have both scored surprise away wins at the Emirates this season, and another home defeat would threaten to undermine the Gunners' title ambitions.



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see also
Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham
20 Nov 10 |  Premier League
Lawro's Premier League predictions
22 Nov 10 |  Football Focus
Tottenham boosted by Defoe return
16 Nov 10 |  Tottenham
Huddlestone to have ankle surgery
15 Nov 10 |  Tottenham
Defoe ruled out for three months
10 Sep 10 |  Tottenham
Wilshere signs new Arsenal deal
01 Nov 10 |  Arsenal
Wenger hails Fabregas & Wilshere
19 Oct 10 |  Europe


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