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Gallas stripped of captain role

William Gallas
Gallas's role as skipper was reviewed at the end of last season

Arsenal defender William Gallas has been stripped of his captaincy role after his public attack on the team.

Gallas, 31, was left out of the squad for Saturday's game against Manchester City, with Manuel Almunia named captain for the match at Eastlands.

On Saturday Gallas instead trained at Arsenal's London Colney complex.

Ex-Arsenal defender Lee Dixon backed the club's decision, made after Gallas questioned team-mates' bravery and accused a player of disrupting morale.

"Quite rightly, in my view, Arsene Wenger has acted on it," Dixon told the BBC's Football Focus programme.

"I think in the dressing room they're pleasantly surprised that Wenger has taken some action and not just sat back.

"Yes, if you've had a conversation in the dressing room about what's going on, you can come out and say it. But you can't come out and just slag off players and the team spirit."

Last season the Frenchman's skills as a captain were questioned as the club failed to win a trophy for a third year running.

What Gallas has done is to undermine his manager Arsene Wenger

Nigel Winterburn
Gallas joined Arsenal in September 2006 from Chelsea and was given the captain's armband by Wenger in August 2007.

He was heavily criticised following his petulant reaction to last season's draw with Birmingham.

During the match at St Andrew's in February, Gallas kicked an advertising hoarding and stood in the other half of the pitch as James McFadden scored a last-minute penalty.

The two dropped points reduced Arsenal's then lead at the Premier League summit to two points and many believed Gallas' actions undermined Arsenal's title challenge.

They won just two out of 10 subsequent games as their league and Champions League bids came to an end.

Last month he was criticised by Wenger after he was photographed with a cigarette in his mouth leaving a nightclub last month.

"What William Gallas has done is to undermine his manager Arsene Wenger by making these statements to the public," said former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn.

"When Wenger is at training he is a master at observing players. He will know if anything is going on around the training ground and if one or two of the players have fallen out. There is no need for the captain to come out and tell us all."

Following the departures of Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Brazilian Gilberto in the summer, Arsenal have struggled for consistency in the Premier League this season.

At home, Wenger's side have been beaten by Hull and Aston Villa and on their travels Arsenal have slipped to defeats at Fulham and Stoke.

After the Stoke defeat Arsene Wenger accused Tony Pulis's side of overly aggressive tactics, condemning Rory Delap and Ryan Shawcross after Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor were both hurt.

"Wenger will be very, very frustrated. He believes they were very, very close last season to having something special and they just fell away in February," added Winterburn.

"He believes they had a good enough squad to deal this time but they have been inconsistent."

More encouragingly, Arsenal are on course to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League and the club's youngsters have won rave reviews for their displays in the Carling Cup wins over Sheffield United and Wigan.

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see also
Gallas launches Arsenal outburst
21 Nov 08 |  Arsenal
Wenger concerned by Gallas photo
24 Oct 08 |  Arsenal
Wenger furious at Stoke tackling
05 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
29 Oct 08 |  Premier League

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The Times Gallas may lose the Arsenal captaincy - 22 mins ago
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