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Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Arsenal name Fabregas as captain


Wenger says Gallas has a future at Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has chosen 21-year-old Spaniard Cesc Fabregas to replace William Gallas as captain.

Gallas, 31, was stripped of the captaincy for Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Manchester City following controversial comments about his team-mates.

But Wenger revealed the Frenchman will play in the Champions League group game against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.

Wenger said: "Fabregas will be the captain, permanently. I do not have to explain to you why."

He added: "I believe the captain is the voice of the club towards the outside, and is one of the leaders of the team.

"However, I do not believe in just one man in the dressing-room who sorts out all of the problems.

I know we have the spirit and commitment to get back to winning ways and fulfil our potential

Cesc Fabregas
"A successful team is a shared leadership inside the dressing room. Fabregas will be one of the leaders, but not the only one."

Fabregas told the club's website: "It is a great honour for me to captain one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"It is a proud moment. I know it's a big responsibility but together with my team-mates, I know we have the spirit and commitment to get back to winning ways and fulfil our potential."

Gallas was widely criticised last week for publicly accusing some team-mates of in-fighting, insulting behaviour and lacking bravery.

His captaincy has been under scrutiny since a game against Birmingham last season when he kicked an advertising hoarding and remained sat down on the pitch for several minutes following the final whistle after Arsenal conceded a late leveller.

He was left out of the squad for Saturday's humbling defeat and forced to train on his own in London, but was back in the fold for Sunday's training session and is set to win back his place in the side.

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"Gallas will play on Tuesday, but Cesc will be the captain, I have made that decision," said Wenger.

Asked if he thought he had made a mistake over the appointment of Gallas, he said: "No, I do not regret making him captain in the first place."

Wenger believes Gallas, who signed for the club from Chelsea in August 2006, still has a big future at the Emirates Stadium.

"William is a player that I rate and a man I rate. I have a big respect for him. He was working as captain in a very difficult media environment," said Wenger.

"He was under big pressure from the press and at some stage you do not want that high pressure to affect him or the team. But for the man and player I have a big respect.

"I cannot stop suggestions. For me he is a player who is committed to the club and can be even stronger as a player.

The media have tried to get into people's heads, saying he is not good enough, but he has been sensational for us

Gael Clichy on Gallas
"He took all the problems of the team to his heart. It can be a new start for him and make him stronger."

Fellow French defender Gael Clichy, who was tipped by some to take over as skipper, says he believes Gallas has been harshly treated by the English press since the Birmingham game.

"For seven months we were top of the league and William did not have any critics, but one moment, one game, that is all it took and everything turned then," said Clichy.

"The media have tried to get into people's heads, saying he is not good enough, but he has been sensational for us.

"He is a great player and we all want to tell the fans that we respect William a lot, he adds experience to our team and we want to achieve great things together."

Arsenal are already rank outsiders to win the Premier League, lying in fifth place, 10 points behind Chelsea and Liverpool having lost five league games.

The Gunners have picked up only 11 points from a possible 27 and, coupled with the captaincy situation, Wenger has come under increasing scrutiny as their season threatens to fall apart.

But the Frenchman said: "When you do not win, nobody jumps off the roof, but the frustration does kick in.

"It is a good opportunity now for us to show we have strength and ability - you know how it works, you go from fantastic to a catastrophe, but real life is somewhere in between.

"Even if we are frustrated right now, it is not all doom and gloom. We have a strong belief in our ability and we have a good opportunity to show we care about the club tomorrow."

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see also
Gallas future 'in his own hands'
24 Nov 08 |  Arsenal
Man City 3-0 Arsenal
22 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Gallas stripped of captain role
22 Nov 08 |  Arsenal
Gallas launches Arsenal outburst
21 Nov 08 |  Arsenal
Wenger concerned by Gallas photo
24 Oct 08 |  Arsenal
Gallas retains Arsenal captaincy
01 Aug 08 |  Arsenal
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
29 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Birmingham 2-2 Arsenal
23 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Blues beat deadline to sign Cole
01 Sep 06 |  Premier League

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