By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has dismissed suggestions that William Gallas' captaincy contributed to Arsenal's downfall this season.

The French defender succeeded Thierry Henry as skipper last summer and guided his team to the top of the Premier League table. However, Gallas was criticised after his angry reaction to a last-minute penalty conceded at Birmingham in February as Arsenal dropped two crucial points in the title race.

Wenger admits that Gallas' behaviour was wrong. However, speaking at this week's shareholders Q&A, the Arsenal manager insisted that his compatriot was not to blame for Arsenal's failure to land a trophy.

"I don't share the view that Gallas is a bad captain," said Wenger. "I think he is a captain who is very committed and tries to work hard for the team.

"He had an outburst at Birmingham but I still believe today that, even if that was a mistake, that was not why we did not win the championship. That would be too easy as an excuse because there are other incidents. That would be a cheap excuse.

"At the time [of the Birmingham game] we were five points in front and everybody has been praising his captaincy. I believe we all make mistakes and we had to come back as a unit and try to win the championship."

Wenger refused to be drawn on whether Gallas will captain the Club next season. "It [the captaincy issue] has been raised by a lot of newspapers but I must say I have not looked at the situation yet," he said.

"My priority is to keep this team together and then we will see where we go for next season."

The full Q&A with Wenger will be shown on Arsenal TV from 9.15pm (UK time) on Thursday.

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
Chris Harris 8 May 2008