By Chris Harris
For William Gallas, Sunday's victory against Chelsea was more about getting back on track than getting one over his old mates.
The Arsenal captain has a happy knack of popping up with vital goals and he did the trick again in first-half stoppage time at Emirates Stadium, capitalising on Petr Cech's error to nod the ball into an unguarded net.
Gallas' header clinched Arsenal's first win over Chelsea since February 2004 and restored Arsène Wenger's side to the top of the Premier League table. As far as their matchwinner is concerned, it was the perfect response to last weekend's poor performance at Middlesbrough.
"It was really important to win that game," said Gallas. "It was not easy for us because we were playing against a good team. Chelsea were very strong but at the end we took the three points and we are still at the top.
"I think in the first half we played well - one and two-touch like before. After the games against Newcastle and Middlesbrough it was very important for us to play how we play normally. And I think tonight was OK.
"In the second half we did not play the same way but we
defended very well and all the players stayed very compact. Chelsea
tried to score. They pushed very high. It was not easy but I said
congratulations to the players because they fight for 90 minutes.
"It was not easy for me playing against my ex-team. You are not the same because I spent six years there and it was a little bit strange for me but it was very important for me to try to play well. Today I did not think I played my best football. I have to play for the team and not myself."
While Chelsea's fans trooped out at one end of the ground, their former favourite celebrated in style at the other end. Gallas is quick to deflect any personal glory onto his team-mates but, equally, he knows exactly how much victories like this mean to the Arsenal fans.
"I went to see my family and my friends because they are in a box and I went to see the fans as well," explained Gallas. "You have to give your maximum for them because they want to see us all the time winning trophies. You have to remember that.
"Now I am 30 years old I understand more the fans and you have to show your enjoyment on the pitch and fight, fight, fight and play some good football.
"When the victory is there, everybody is happy. They can now go back home and enjoy it. Maybe drink some beer. For the players it is the same. I will go back home now and will be happy to be with my wife and my kids. I don't drink. I will drink at the end of the season. That is my new rule."
If Gallas maintains his mantle as Arsenal's matchwinner, he could be drinking out of the Premier League trophy come May.
Copyright 2015 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 17 Dec 2007