By Nick Teale
Arsène Wenger has revealed that stripping William Gallas of the Arsenal captaincy was one of the hardest decisions he has ever made.
The defender received criticism for his reaction to Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Birmingham in February 2008. The Gunners conceded a late equaliser in that game and Gallas stayed sat down on the pitch after his team-mates had left the field at the end of the match.
In November of the same year Cesc Fabregas replaced him as Arsenal captain following comments made by Gallas in the national press.
Speaking ahead of the Blackpool game, Wenger was asked if that was one of the toughest decisions he has ever taken.
"Yes," he replied. "But it [stripping him of the captaincy] was not because of what he did at Birmingham, it was because of some statements a year after.
"He's not a troublemaker, Gallas. That's an unjustified reputation, he's somebody who's not always talky but he does his job and when you are manager you respect Gallas.
"The way he responded when I stripped him of the captaincy was absolutely fantastic. He focused, worked hard and showed on the pitch he still wants to win."
The manager admitted one of the memories of Gallas' time at Arsenal will be his reaction at Birmingham but says that it could have been construed in more than one way.
"[It's an overriding memory] because it was an excessive reaction," said the manager.
"You can take that in a positive or negative way. It shows how much it means to him to win and people focused only on the negative side because he was captain at the time.
"But it shows as well that he's not somebody who came just to take his money and move away, he came to win.
"At that time it was all negative. I still believe that on the day it was a massive disappointment for us."