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Outcast skipper Gallas still has future at Arsenal, says Wenger

SoccerNews in English Premier League 23 Nov 2008

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists deposed skipper William Gallas still has a future at the club despite his shock public criticism of his team-mates last week.

Gallas was stripped of the club captaincy, fined two weeks' wages and dropped from the squad that lost 3-0 at Manchester City, the north London club's third defeat in four English Premier League games.

Wenger refused to talk about his decision to discipline the France defender but insisted the events of a turbulent week could not be blamed for Arsenal's desperately unconvincing performance at Eastlands.

And despite the fall-out between manager and player, Wenger is adamant that his compatriot Gallas could yet rebuild his bridges and remain at Emirates Stadium.

“Of course he has a future at the club,” Wenger said.

“We have had difficult times. We have always been strong enough to deal with it and we will be strong again to deal with it.

“Nothing was disturbed by what happened before the game. We had a good focus, good concentration and I believe it was a flattering score-line for Manchester City.”

Goals from Stephen Ireland, Robinho and a late penalty from Daniel Sturridge inflicted Arsenal's fifth defeat of the season and seriously undermined any hope Wenger's side had of clawing their way back into the title race.

But the Frenchman refused to write off his team's hopes and insisted any analysis of his side's problems should include an examination of his own contribution as well as that of the players.

“I always look at myself, even when we win,” he said.

“We are not in a blame culture at our club. We stand up for our responsibilities.

“We have to take the positive and keep the belief. In a strong team at a strong club we sometimes have to go through these periods and it is how we handle these periods that makes our future.

“I believe we have to try to win the next game and not set targets that at the moment don't look immediately reachable. Let's try to win the next game and see where we go from there.”

And he added: “I've had worse weeks than this at Arsenal.”

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes admitted Arsenal's problems did his side no harm at all as they attempted to recover from their own dip in form and return to winning ways.

“We've have difficult weeks all year but there has been a lot of speculation about what's gone on,” the Welshman said.

“I don't know exactly what's gone on but you can only go up against the opposition put up against you and I thought we did well.”

Hughes believes his side once again underlined its attacking credentials — but also showed the defensive stability that has been lacking this season.

“We have scored 29 goals now which is outstanding but we looked much stronger defensively,” he said.

“Robinho could have had a hat-trick and was outstanding once again. He went over on his ankle but he should be OK.”

The manager also hailed the contribution of Ireland who scored his seventh goal of the season and predicted the midfielder would play a major role in City's campaign.

Hughes said: “The timing of his runs is superb and he gets into the box very well. There is no reason why he shouldn't get double figures for us.”

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