The former Spurs and Gunners centre-back believes the North London rivalry is the fiercest in the capital ahead of Sunday’s match at the Emirates Stadium
William Gallas says Harry Redknapp’s decision to make him Tottenham captain helped to inspire the famous derby win over Arsenal six years ago.
Wenger’s record vs Spurs
Spurs came from two goals down to win 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium in November 2010, ending a 17-year wait for a victory away from home against their north London rivals.
The build-up to the match had been overshadowed by a feud between former Gunners defender Gallas and Samir Nasri, which stemmed from claims made in a book by the centre-back relating to the in-fighting in the France squad.
Nasri refused to shake Gallas’s hand before the match, after feeling he had been accused of inflaming tensions in Raymond Domenech’s party, and the occasion threatened to boil over when the two were involved in a heavy coming-together in the opening stages.
Gallas has now revealed that Spurs boss Redknapp decided to make him captain after hearing of the Nasri dispute – a move that the 39-year-old feels was inspired.
Describing the atmosphere in each dressing room before a derby, he told L’Equipe: “Arsene Wenger didn’t give particularly war-like speeches, it was business as usual.
“Harry Redknapp used it. The year of the famous 3-2 win for Spurs at the Emirates, when the club hadn’t beaten one of the ‘big four’ away since 1993, everyone talked about my story with Samir Nasri and that I wasn’t going to shake his hand.
“It was talked about every day, but I stayed in my bubble.
“In the dressing-room before the game, Redknapp came to see me. ‘What’s the story with Nasri?’ I explained it to him, and he said to me: ‘You know what? You’ll be captain.’
“He did it deliberately to increase motivation. It worked.”
Gallas also explained his role in Arsenal’s 5-1 EFL Cup thrashing at the hands of Spurs in 2008, when he had to separate team-mates Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor as frustrations reached breaking point.
“It’s good that you’ve asked me that question, since you’ll be able to make things right,” he said. “We found a picture on the internet that gives the impression of a fight. But that’s not what happened. Bendtner fought with Adebayor, and I separated them!
“Pointing to his face, Bendtner told me: ‘Did you see what he did to me?’. And I answered that it was something you don’t resolve on the pitch. So, really, I had nothing to do with it.”
‘CL exit wouldn’t hurt Tottenham’
Gallas, who unusually enjoyed spells with Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea during his time in England, says that little compares to the rivalry between the teams of Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino.
“In my first match I was whistled. I expected it a little bit,” he said. “When I played at Chelsea in my first match with Arsenal in 2006, when I’d moved from one club to the other, it was fine. But between Spurs and Arsenal is another thing.
“On the pitch, you feel the hatred of the fans. It’s a real force.”