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Arsenal's Gallas gains revenge against Chelsea
by Paul Kennedy, December 17th, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  england, france, germany


Arsenal captain William Gallas was the hero for the Gunners in their victory in their much-anticipated showdown against his old club, Chelsea. Elsewhere in England, Liverpool's problems against Manchester United at Anfield. Bayern Munich's lead has evaporated heading into the German Bundesliga's winter break. In France, another coach was ousted.

Veteran French defender William Gallas scored yet another crucial goal for Arsenal, leading the Gunners to a 1-0 win over his old club, Chelsea, on Sunday that keeps them in first place in the English Premier League ahead of Manchester United.

Gallas, who left Chelsea amid controversy in August 2006, scored on a header into an empty net at the end of the first half when Chelsea goalie Petr Cech failed to grab Cesc Fabregas' corner. Gallas had also scored a late equalizer for Arsenal against Manchester United and the winning goal against Wigan.

"He is a leader and the definition of a leader is that he shows the example when you need it," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of Gallas. "He showed he is a winner. It takes a few months to be penetrated by the spirit but this season William has taken it on board. He has been transformed. He does a lot of things off the pitch that are great for the club."

Liverpool's problems against Manchester United at Anfield continued as the Reds fell, 1-0, on Sunday in a match viewed by its American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, making a rare visit to Liverpool.

Argentine Carlos Tevez's goal in the 43rd minute goal was the difference in the game. The result left United one point behind Arsenal and dropped Liverpool to fifth place, 10 points off the pace.

"We didn't take our chances and they had just one at the end of the first half," Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said. "We know we needed to win this game if we wanted to be closer. Now for me, we know it's a long way so we have to keep going."

Werder Bremen caught Bayern Munich on the final day before the German Bundesliga's winter break. Bremen, which had earlier in the week been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League, beat Bayer Leverkusen, 5-2, to move into a tie with Bayern, which could only manage a 0-0 tie at Hertha Berlin.

Ivan Klasnic, the Croatian striker who recently returned after two kidney transplant operations, led Bremen with two goals against Leverkusen, which went into the game with a five-game winning streak. Bremen and Bayern lead Hamburg by four points, while Leverkusen is in fourth place, six points back.

The 0-0 tie was Bayern's second consecutive scoreless draw and fourth in the last seven games. It earned 26 points in its first 10 games but only 10 in the last seven. Italian star Luca Toni was absent at Hertha, but Miroslav Klose and French playmaker Franck Ribery, its other big offseason signings, failed to dent the Berlin defense.

Pierre Dreossi is stepping down as coach of French club Rennes after it fell to 13th in the 20-team Ligue 1 with a 2-1 loss to Caen on Saturday, its sixth straight loss.

Veteran coaches Guy Lacombe and Vahid Halilhodzic were among the candidates to replace Dreossi, who was expected to remain as Rennes' general manager. Owned by billionaire Francois Pinault, Rennes is one of the most ambitious clubs in France.

Rennes is the second French club to make a coaching change in four days. Sochaux fired Frederic Hantz on Wednesday. Other teams to have changed coaches are Lens (former European Player of the Year Jean-Pierre Papin replaced Guy Roux) and Marseille (Belgian Eric Gerets replaced Albert Emon).


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