By Declan Taylor

Arsène Wenger has paid tribute to the mental strength of William Gallas after losing the captaincy last season.

The 31-year-old was replaced as Arsenal skipper by Cesc Fabregas last November but bounced back with some impressive performances in the season’s run-in.

The Frenchman has picked up where he left off this term with a trio of towering performances alongside summer-signing Thomas Vermaelen in the heart of defence. What’s more, he has found the net, albeit sometimes scruffily, in all three games.

Speaking at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, Wenger hailed his compatriot’s attitude to losing the captaincy before lifting the lid on the defender’s long-term future.

“I feel it was certainly a big blow to him, but he has shown his mental strength, and [that’s] what I respect a lot,” the manager said.

“Secondly he has worked even harder and it was quite an amusing situation because now suddenly he’s captain of the French national team.

“That shows you he has taken the right attitude, what we expect from a top level sportsman.”

“[We haven’t discussed a new contract] yet, no. We are early in the season, and we will see later, but he is now a big influence in the side.”

Gallas has averaged more than one goal every ten games for Arsenal during his four years at the Club, more than any other regular member of the back-four.

But what does the manager make of his current goal-a-game ratio?

“What is most important for me is that he's looking sharp defensively,” said the manager. “We know that the goals he will score some of them are a bit accidental but very helpful.

“What I mean is that it's not what I expect from him. But as a defender I'm very happy. That's all I want from him.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
26 Aug 2009