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William Gallas hopes his experience and winning mentality can help Arsenal FC's youthful team get back on the trail for silverware this season. Arsène Wenger's charges have gained many admirers for their attractive style in recent times but have finished the last two campaigns empty-handed.
The Gunners have enjoyed a terrific start domestically and in Europe this term, soaring to the top of the Premier League and winning their first two UEFA Champions League Group H games. Victory over SK Slavia Praha at the Arsenal Stadium on Tuesday would take them to the brink of the knockout phase, and while Gallas describes the visit of the Czech side as "a very important game", the French international is looking at the bigger picture.
'We can fight'
"We feel we need to win something this season," Arsenal's new captain said. "Of course it's nice to play good football, but if you win nothing there's no point. We've already shown this season that we can fight, and when you win game after game at the beginning everyone in the squad starts believing. All the young players now know we can do something and we want to win a trophy."
Having collected two Premier League titles and reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals during his five seasons at Chelsea FC, Gallas is well-placed to gauge Arsenal's trophy-gathering potential. He said: "It's too early to say if we can succeed but we want to win the Premier League or the UEFA Champions League. We've got a big squad and that's important because we can make changes when people are tired. To win both, the boss has to make all the right decisions."
The depth of Arsenal's defensive resources has already been tested by a two-month injury lay-off for Gallas. Indeed, since joining Arsenal in 2006, the 30-year-old has spent almost as much time on the treatment table as on the pitch due to a recurrent groin problem – although his team-mates' outstanding form made his latest spell on the sidelines more bearable.
'Like a kid'
"When I was watching from the stands I was really, really surprised how well we played," Gallas admitted. "I was so happy for them when they won. I was like a kid. When we missed a chance to score, I was standing up and shouting.
The young players have played great football and shown how strong our squad is."
Having made a winning return against Bolton Wanderers FC on Saturday, Gallas is relishing the prospect of an extended spell with the armband. "I'm very pleased to have been made captain and to have more responsibility," he continued. "I like to speak to the young players and sometimes I have to have strong words with them if I see them make mistakes. It was frustrating to be in the stands for so long, but now I am back I can help my team-mates on the pitch."
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