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Gallas, Gerrard back for action
London, Nov 24 (Agencies):
Published on 25 Nov. 2008 12:26 AM IST
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Cesc Fabregas has been named as the new Arsenal captain but Arsene Wenger has confirmed that William Gallas will return to the starting line-up for the Champions League tie at home to Dynamo Kiev tomorrow. The Arsenal manager has handed the captaincy to the 21-year-old Spanish midfielder after Gallas was stripped of the role on Friday and left out of the squad that lost away to Manchester City on Saturday. Wenger refused to discuss the reasons behind the Gallas’s absence, although he confirmed the French defender would be return to the starting line-up, but not as captain. “William will play against Kiev, but the captain of the team will be Fabregas,” Wenger said. “I do not think I have to especially explain why I make the decisions, but it is a permanent thing.” Wenger felt it had been an “interesting” few days for Arsenal. “When you do not win, nobody jumps off the roof, but the frustration does kick in,” he said. “It is a good opportunity now for us to show we have strength and ability - you know how it works, you go from fantastic to a catastrophe, but real life is somewhere in between.” “So even if we are at the moment frustrated, it is not all doom and gloom. We have a strong belief in our ability and we have a good opportunity to show we care about the club and that we can qualify tomorrow.” “It is a learning trade, to be a top player in a top club, you need to be mentally very strong and to deal with these types of concentration. We have quite a good way to protect the players here and they know how much we believe in them and how much confidence we have in them. “My trust in my players has not be affected. I have to stand up for my players in the criticism we get, but we are a strong team and that will come out. I am focused to do things well, the right way. I am strong enough to let people have opinions, and do what I feel is right.” Gerrard to face Marseille Rafael Benitez is ready to send captain Steven Gerrard back into the fray with his men looking sloppy at the weekend. Benitez insisted Steven Gerrard’s absence was not the reason Liverpool dropped two points at home to Fulham on Saturday. Gerrard missed the goalless draw at Anfield with the groin problem which also kept him out of England’s clash with Germany in midweek. However, he is expected to return for the midweek Champions League tie with Marseille. After watching his side slip up against Fulham, Benitez insisted his players must take collective responsibility. He said: “We will always miss a player of Stevie’s ability, but we did not beat Fulham because five or so players were all off form together. “You cannot win games when that happens. He would have made a difference, yes, but it should not be an excuse. “He is training now and I would expect that he would be fit to play against Marseille on Wednesday.” Full-back Fabio Aurelio agreed the Reds should be able to win without Gerrard. “We have played for two months without Fernando Torres, and that is a big loss, but managed to win matches,” he said. “We were able to handle it. And we should be able to do the same without Steven. “Of course he is a fine player. He is approaching 10 years since his debut and he is very important for us. “I have only been with him at Liverpool for a couple of years, but I know full well what he means to the club. “I see him working every day in training, I see him leading the side on the pitch, and he is very, very special. “But again we should not use as an excuse the fact that he was not playing against Fulham. It is too easy a thing to say. “We have won games without Steven before, and we have good enough players to come into the side when he is not playing and still be able to win games.” Aurelio added: “Any side in the world would miss a player of Steven’s ability and leadership. That is obvious. “But we are finding teams now coming to Anfield and playing like Fulham did. They did not really have many chances, but teams now defend deep and in numbers. “It is difficult to break down, but we should be able to do that with the players we have, with or without Steven.” Reflecting on the performance, Benitez added: “It was a bad day, we did not have enough energy and we did not pass the ball well enough. “We had a situation when maybe five players were well below their best. The players who had been away with their countries looked tired. “I know the crowd were calling for Xabi Alonso to come on, but he had played 90 minutes for Spain and we needed fresh legs. “When he did come on Fulham pressurised him straight away. One man does not make that much difference in such circumstances, when so many other players are off form you cannot expect one player to change things.”

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