Arsène Wenger has thrown his full support behind captain William Gallas.

The centre back has been the subject of critical stories in the media as Arsenal's title bid faltered after the defeat at Chelsea last weekend.

But, at his press conference on Thursday, Wenger steadfastly defended his skipper.

"He has my full support and my full backing," said the Frenchman. "I am completely behind him and behind the team as well.

"People have questioned him but you still have the same William Gallas. And the same people said it was a good choice to make him captain when we were five points ahead.
"You have not to go too much overboard. We did not have a good game defensively on Sunday, that's true, if overall I feel we played all right.

"And he had not the best of games on Sunday but I don't question his position in the team, nor his leadership."

Some of the concern in the media surrounding Gallas emanates from a newspaper story last month purporting to question the development of Theo Walcott.

"I believe that the article where Theo was criticised was from an article made in GQ about Wayne Rooney," said Wenger. "I read what William said in this article [about Theo] and I agree completely with him.

"He said Walcott could be the next Wayne Rooney, but he has to work. What is wrong with that? You want, at 18 years of age, not to work?

"I read it really carefully, it didn't say anything wrong in that. After the way it has been turned, yes.

"But if you want to win the World Cup you have to accept that your players are highly exposed and you have to accept that you have to work.

"Is it an insult to say somebody has to work? I don't think so."
In reality, for Wenger, the barbs directed at Gallas are the product of his side's faltering Premier League form.

"When you don't go well, everybody is analysed and scrutinised a little bit more," said the manager. "What we want to do is perform well as a team again and we know we can do that.

"On Sunday, for example, we played OK but we have to improve recently what punished us a lot - and that is the fact that we have made big mistakes defensively.

"That happened against Middlesbrough, against Aston Villa, against Chelsea, and we are not used to it."

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28 Mar 2008