November 26, 2008
Following his ill-advised comments in the press last week, William Gallas was relieved of his duties as Arsenal club captain as Arsene Wenger moved swiftly to quell the storm and resolve the situation. In his place, Cesc Fabregas was appointed as the new permanent choice for skipper. It was a selection that many supporters wanted to see and the Spaniard was the leading contender of what could have only been a minimal short-list of candidates for the job.
It will be interesting to see how Fabregas takes to the role. He is a young man aged only 21 but he is already vastly experienced in the worlds of English, European and international football. There is a concern that the responsibility of captaincy may distract him from his key role within the team. Certainly, one suspected that having to worry about other players detracted from Thierry Henry's individual performance during his tenure leading the team. But, different players will handle situations in their own way and this could be an appointment that only makes Cesc's stature and confidence even greater - only time will tell.
November 20, 2008
After the joy of beating Manchester United and seeing the youngsters dismantle Wigan in the Carling Cup, Arsenal's schizophrenic season took another turn for the worse with an abject defeat at the hands of Aston Villa on Saturday. It was the Gunners' second loss of the season at Ashburton Grove and their fourth overall. With a third of the season gone, they are already nine points behind the league leaders and it would seem than any lingering hopes of challenging for the title have now been snuffed out. The way they played on Saturday, they cannot even be confident of finishing in fourth place.
In fairness to Aston Villa, they entirely deserved their victory. They showed more desire and strength than their hapless hosts and outgunned them in virtually every department. In the first half Villa missed a penalty and squandered arguably the best chance of the match. The half-time whistle came as a relief to Arsenal and they were fortunate to go in at the break with the scores still level.