By Richard Clarke
William Gallas senses a change in Arsenal this season.
The newly-appointed captain argues that the foundations of Sunday's dramatic comeback against Fulham were laid down on the fields of Austria while the team were at their pre-season training camp. It was there the Frenchman, 30 on Friday, noticed a new strength and solidarity in his side. He believes that was the main reason for Arsène Wenger's side turning defeat into victory in the final seven minutes at Emirates Stadium over the weekend.
"When I came to Arsenal the one thing I wanted to do was win," he said. "Last year was not easy because we had too many injuries but this season everything has changed. And I can tell you it changed in pre-season - how the players train, how they fight on the pitch - and when I saw that I said 'we will do something' this season.
"We have shown everybody already we can fight. Maybe something will happen this year, maybe we can win something, I don't know. But the squad is very compact. They want to win and they want to fight."
The appointment of Gallas as captain has raised a few eyebrows. But Wenger was quick to point out that his most experienced quartet of players - Gilberto, Jens Lehmann, Kolo Toure and Gallas - all have a role to play this season.
"For me the most important thing is the squad," the former Chelsea player concurred. "It is not to be captain.
"I didn't think about it but, trust me, I'm happy. When [the boss] said you will be captain I was very proud and said, 'thank you'.
"I'm 30 years old now and I think I have the experience. I know I'll have to speak with the young players to give them information and good advice. I won't have to shout because they know what they have to do. I have only to speak with them, that's it. I think it's very good for the squad to speak together.
"I'm very proud to be captain of Arsenal because before me you had players like Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams. Now I just have to try to do the best job I can."
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 14 Aug 2007