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The Toe Poke

Van Persie pleads innocence in Gallas row

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has refuted claims that he is the disruptive influence in the Gunners dressing room identified by William Gallas in tirade which cost the Frenchman the captain's armband.

Manager Arsene Wenger was left with little choice but to replace Gallas after last month's outburst in which the defender branded his team-mates ''not brave enough'' and accused an unnamed 25-year-old of undermining the squad with his behaviour.

However, 25-year-old Van Persie, who scored both goals in Arsenal's impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea at the weekend, is confident he is not the target of Gallas' criticism.

''Are you suggesting that William was talking about me?'' Van Persie said.

''I don't know that, because he never told me anything and I didn't see my name in the papers, so I never felt that he was speaking about me. For me, there isn't a problem.''

In the immediate aftermath of Gallas' outburst the 31-year-old was dropped for Arsenal's 3-0 defeat away to Manchester City, but subsequently recalled for last week's 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League, a game which was Cesc Fabregas first game as Gallas' replacement as club captain.

There has been speculation that the French international will seek to leave Arsenal after losing his role as skipper, something his agent has denied.

Gallas' role in Arsenal's return to form,and comments from Wenger suggest that the central defender does indeed have a future with the club.

Wenger said: ''For me, William comes out of the situation with a lot of credit. He is as committed as ever, he organises well his defence in training and he works very hard. I think that is a credit to him''.


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