Wenger keeps faith with Gallas for Chelsea testNovember 27th, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS
London, Nov 27 (DPA) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hinted that William Gallas will line up against his former club Chelsea Sunday, after praising his “fully committed” performance in the 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.The centre-back had been dropped from the squad for Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City after criticising a lack of mental strength among the rest of the squad, but returned for the Champions League tie.
He did not have the easiest evening, blocking a shot from his team-mate Robin van Persie, and being caught in possession by Dynamo’s Ismael Bangoura, but the crowd at the Emirates seemed to respond warmly to him.
He will face a rather more hostile reception at Stamford Bridge, having manoeuvred a move away from Chelsea in 2006.
But Wenger has condemned recent criticism of the man who was his captain until last week.
“It was based neither on the man himself nor his quality as a player but more on his blunder,” Wenger told a French television.
“It was a witch-hunt and everything that he did, even when it was good, was bad.
“In these conditions, the player had no chance. He didn’t intend to be malicious but it put his team under enormous pressure.
“He will remain himself and it can free him as a player if there is less pressure.”
Chelsea will be without forward Didier Drogba, who is suspended after throwing a coin into the crowd during the League Cup match against Burnley a fortnight ago.
The other big game Sunday sees Manchester United travel to Manchester City, against whom they lost twice last week.
Forward Dimitar Berbatov remains a doubt with his thigh injury, a particular concern given that United have failed to score in either of the last two games he missed - against Aston Villa last Saturday and Villarreal on Wednesday.
“I hope we’re saving the goals for Manchester City,” striker Wayne Rooney told MUTV.
“The derby at the weekend is a big game for us and we’re all looking forward to it.”
League leaders Liverpool face West Ham Monday, while two of the promoted sides meet as Hull travel to Stoke.
Sunderland face a crucial game at home to Bolton, seeking to avoid a sixth defeat in their last seven games.