THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Sunday 30 November ~

Every so often rival groups of football supporters are brought together by a common goal. Today, for instance, Chelsea and Arsenal fans will unite in booing the same player. William Gallas had three successful seasons at Stamford Bridge but alienated the supporters by the circumstances of his leaving, when he threatened to score an own goal if his demand for a transfer wasn't met. Today he seems likely to feature in Arsenal's defence a week after he was dropped and removed as captain after having roundly criticised his team-mates. Arsene Wenger might explain his decision to restore Gallas to his team as a chance for the player to redeem himself, but essentially the choice is a pragmatic one – the Arsenal manager simply doesn't have many other defensive options. Gallas will still be expecting to move on in January, although it may only be across north London.

Harry Redknapp's past experience in rehabilitating troublesome players and Spurs' constant fretting on the fitness of the talismanic Ledley King has led some papers to speculate that Gallas might be moving to White Hart Lane. Gallas's general rant about Arsenal included the complaint that they hadn't won anything in four years – he somehow overlooked the inaugural Emirates Trophy and the 2007 Amsterdam Tournament – so maybe a link-up with the Carling Cup holders and their FA Cup-winning manager might appeal. It's more likely that Gallas will head for AC Milan who already have two of his former team-mates Philippe Senderos and the player Arsenal have missed most this season, defensive anchor Mathieu Flamini.

Ledley King will actually be available today for Spurs' match with Everton. The latter have won their last two matches at White Hart Lane but prior to that had endured a long run of defeats there, a record that seems likely to resume today. Everton have not yet put in a convincing performance this season and lost tamely at Wigan on Monday despite fielding their first-choice eleven; an injury crisis now leaves them without three of the four strikers in their first-team squad which may mean a first appearance at some point today for 19-year-old Lukas Jutkiewicz who has yet to be called off the bench since signing from Swindon at the start of last season.
 
Victory for Spurs would push them up to mid-table, with Manchester City dropping into the bottom six unless they win this afternoon's derby. However, they did the double over United last season and ought to be confident of at least avoiding defeat. Mark Hughes has supposedly been asked to give his employers a list of the best players in the world in each position with a view to building a super-squad in the summer, but he insists that City are still years away from being able to match their neighbours. United defender Patrice Evra seemed to have been thinking along similar lines in an interview with L'Equipe earlier in the week: "I haven't heard anybody say: 'Oh la la, from now on, they are the richest club in the world'. We know our history." The poorer of the two clubs will nonetheless line up with £30 million man Dimitar Berbatov whose arrival in the summer was at least one victory they have had over City recently.

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