By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger remains comfortable with his decision to start William Gallas against Barcelona on Wednesday, even though he admits it turned out to be a mistake.
The appearance of the French defender in midweek was a surprise. The 32-year-old was not expected back after missing the previous eight games with a calf problem.
However he did not complete the first half.
Gallas pulled up just before the break with a recurrence of the problem and was replaced by Denilson just before the whistle. In his television press conference on Friday, Wenger said: “It was a gamble which did not pay off and was a mistake.”
The decision drew criticism from French manager Raymond Domenech, who requires the services of Gallas in South Africa this summer. However, despite the outcome, Wenger believes he did all the research he could.
"I don't think it will cost him his World Cup,” said the Arsenal manager. “He declared himself fit and I had [good] reports from the rehabilitation centre where he worked for ten days. He had four days training with the team too.
“Maybe we should have taken some more time but he was jumping, running up and down the stairs in France. He had very hard sessions.
"Gallas is 32, soon 33. You ask a player of that experience do you feel ready to play, have you worked hard enough, do you feel ready to go into this game - when they say yes you have to believe them.
“I didn't speak to [Domenech] after the game. But we have to first take care of the interests of Arsenal. The French national team is important but Arsenal are as well and he is paid by the Club - not the French national team. We have to use the players when they declare themselves fit."Copyright 2017 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