William Gallas admits he does not know how much Arsenal will miss Kolo Toure while he is away at the African Nations Cup.
The Ivorian played his last Premier League game before going to Ghana in the 2-0 victory over West Ham on New Year's Day. If Toure's team go all the way he will not be available for Arsenal again until mid-February.
Gallas concedes that Toure's loss is a blow to the leaders.
"Kolo is very important for the squad because he is very strong," said the captain. "He has good qualities and my relationship with him has been good.
"We have good players in the squad and someone else will be able to play. If you play for Arsenal you are very good and I hope my relationship with them will be good too. We will miss Kolo but I can only say how much after a few weeks."
The win over West Ham helped Arsenal emerge from a difficult Christmas campaign with a two-point lead in the Premier League.
"We played very well and it was just about what we had to do," said Gallas. "We have got two days off so we can relax now.
"It is good that we are top. It was important for us to show everybody that we wanted to be there. For me it is not finished and we have to stay strong to stay on top.
"I think Manchester United and Chelsea want to come back on us. It will not be easy for them and it will not be easy for us. We have to show people how we are strong and how we want to win the Premier League.
"Everyday I speak with the players and the boss and we know how we want to play. We know sometimes it will not be easy to win. For example we needed to do what we did against Everton.
"We didn't play well but we were so strong. We wanted to win that game and we showed everybody. If we can keep doing that I think everything will be fine."

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2 Jan 2008