Jens Lehmann reveals two Arsenal stars came to blows after infamous Birmingham farce
Jens Lehmann lost his place to Manuel Almunia during the 2007/08 season (Picture: Getty)

Jens Lehmann believes making William Gallas Arsenal captain represented one of the biggest mistakes of Arsene Wenger’s entire managerial reign.

In his autobiography ‘The Madness is on the Pitch’, currently being serialised in the Daily Telegraph, the former Germany international recalls the infamous draw at Birmingham in February 2008 which sparked a collapse that saw Arsenal drop out of contention for three trophies in the space of six weeks.

Arsenal had led the Premier League by five points but Martin Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo, which broke the Croatian’s ankle and ruled him out of action for a year, allied to the concession of a late penalty that cost Wenger’s men two valuable points proved too much for Gallas.

Upon the final whistle, the Arsenal captain sat alone in the centre circle after the final whistle and had to be persuaded to leave the pitch by Wenger, but not before kicking one of the advertising hoardings.

Jens Lehmann reveals two Arsenal stars came to blows after infamous Birmingham farce
Eduardo’s injury against Birmingham contributed to Arsenal’s rapid loss of form in 2008 (Picture: Getty)
Jens Lehmann reveals two Arsenal stars came to blows after infamous Birmingham farce
William Gallas refused to leave the field after James McFadden converted a 90th minute penalty (Picture: Getty)

Lehmann revealed the fallout continued into the dressing room where Gallas and Gilberto came to blows. He wrote: ‘Having William Gallas head the team in the 2007/08 season was problematic. We had learned of his appointment in the papers and we all shook our heads. The previous season he had repeatedly turned up very late for training or had left the training ground without permission.

‘The game against Birmingham was: after only three minutes, Birmingham centre-back Martin Taylor shattered Eduardo da Silva’s ankle with a tackle. We were all shocked, but were leading 2–1 shortly before the end, when Gael Clichy was late for a ball while in his own area.

‘His opponent fiddled the ball around him and then went down – time for a penalty and time for captain Gallas to spring into action. Instead of standing at the edge of the area and clearing a possibly parried penalty like any other defender in the world, he abandoned the team, ran towards the halfway line and, in his anger, kicked an advertising hoarding.

‘After the match, which eventually ended 2–2 thanks to the converted penalty, he refused to leave the pitch but sat down in the centre circle like a sulky child, until the manager himself came to collect him.

‘In the dressing room, Gallas came to blows with Gilberto, who accused him of seeking attention in a daft manner – the row dragged on for the remainder of the season. Finally, it contributed to us finishing only third, four points behind Manchester United, despite having been six points ahead in March.’

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