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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Good luck Sol

Tomorrow night, Sol Campbell will be back in the Arsenal starting line up for the first time since a dark night on 1 February. That night at Highbury, Arsenal slipped to a shock 3-2 defeat to the Hammers, with Sol Campbell being substituted at half-time after uncharacteristically looking a liability and being at fault for the two West Ham goals. In fact, the preceding month of January saw Campbell look really ill at ease alongside Senderos to his right and a rotation of makeshift left-backs to his left.

It was clear that we were not watching the same Sol Campbell who had been the reliable bedrock of the England and Arsenal defence for the previous five years. An apparent reason for this was that Sol had been troubled by recurring injuries since the previous February- which of course can have a big impact on form and confidence. Less apparent were the rumours that Sol had been suffering psychological trauma for an undisclosed reason. Wenger denied this, with an ankle injury the stated offical cause for his absence from the side. But comments at the same time made by Robert Pires implied heavily that the squad was aware that Sol Campbell was undergoing mental strain, and that this was a factor in his move to the sidelines.

Arsenal were in a bad way when Sol Campbell last played ten weeks ago. It was a poor time for us to lose such a big and experienced character from the side. But football is not the most important thing in life, and if Sol needed a time-out to regroup because something significant was badly affecting him, than I support that. This would go for any Arsenal player, let alone one who has been such a influential figure in Arsenal's recent success.

I imagine that Sol will psychologically get a big boost being back in the starting line-up, and that his game will go from strength to strength if all Gunners' show solidarity with him. This will be significant because a fit and confident Sol Campbell can really help Arsenal's cause for the last few weeks of this season.

Making a comeback against free-scoring Portsmouth, with the livewire Lua Lua and the Yakubu-like Mwaruwari playing up-front, will be a tough challenge. This is especially so because I would say that a win is a must tomorrow night, and for that to happen everyone needs to be at the top of their game, including the returning Campbell.

I believe he can achieve this because he has a natural big-match determination and commitment, and because he will being playing alongside his favoured CB partner, Kolo Toure. But, of course, the proof will be in the playing. Good luck Sol.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Arsene is wrong to start Sol instead of Senderos. He is buckling under pressure from senior pros. Pires moaned that he was left out of the Juve game, and was promptly installed as the left sided midfielder, when Ljungberg, with his commitment and work rate would have been the better option. Senderos has done very little wrong in my opinion, and although he sometimes looks shaky and can be beaten too easily, he was fantastic in the champions league and has forged a partnership with toure. Another factor in why senderos should not have been dropped is the fact that when sol played well he had toure and cole either side of him. Senderos has had flamini, a willing worker but not a natural covering full back which didnt help him. I think sol is finished, and we will see that in germany where sol will warm the bench at best, while senderos will try to stop park, henry and adebayor

4/11/2006 8:58 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good game for Sol's comeback -- away from home, away from live tv. Nice article.

4/11/2006 9:31 pm

Anonymous Nikki said...

For an alternative view on Sol Campbells comeback, see

Alternative doesnt always mean bad, I tend to agree with points from both articles.

4/11/2006 9:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Anon (8.31PM), I think the match is live on Prem Plus on Sky but do not see it making a difference.

I wonder if Wenger made the change, or is going to, because of the Sunday match. Otherwise I felt Senderos and Toure were forging a stern grip in the centre enough, yet replacing a good defender for another doesn't make for a bad decision. The main comfort for Wenger is he has Sol back and able to rely on, and he wants to see this confirmed at the earliest opportunity. He, Ericsson, the Gooner fans, and Campbell himself.


4/11/2006 11:24 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, how about an article on why you drew with pompey and your chances of finishing 4th?

4/13/2006 9:55 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Sorry to miss so many articles!

Anon @ 8:55...I'm sure this will be coming - as you will find out, even though there are stauch supporters of our own clubs...EFT article writers hopefully give a different or differing perspective outside the main newspaper articles and other sites. Keep coming back for more!

On Sol...well...we now know Arsenal face a huge battle to get to where we need for 4th. We also know Sol has a confirmed broken nose...pretty unlucky if you ask me...and nothing to do with his fitness, attitude etc. A shame...but I think he'll be back in for some games to come...and he'll be fit for England.

It's Ashley Cole I'm a bit more worried about - no doubt he is younger and can get back stronger...but I just worry he will only play a few games before the World match fitness is the problem perhaps.

I also feel for Flamini if he gets dumped later on for Cole, but hey...I've written that he's a good squad it can't be too bad to see him take a breather...and could easily be a substitute. Just a bit more quality on the pitch...and he'll be a great Gilles Grimandi...hah!

A shame out big man Diaby got beaten to the header by Lua Lua...and my only criticism is for Pairing Diaby and SONG together....surely Larsson, etc would have done better. I would have put Gilbert at the back left...and Flamini in mid-field instead of Song, or even Hleb for Song...Walcott is the other obvious player...but I suspect Wenger will want to shield him from any pressure in these tense coming few games.

4/14/2006 5:35 am

Blogger T said...

I apologise for responding late to all these comments and saying thanks for taking part in the site.

My good luck message for Sol obviosuly was not heard by the footballing gods- a deep cut above the eye followed by a badly broken nose that has undergone surgery today does not constitute good luck in anybody's language!

Nturtle, comparing Flamini to a potential Gilles Grimandi is fantastic! I also think that when Cole/Clichy are available, Flamini will be great in the substitute Gilles Grimandi/Remi Garde/Nelson Vivas (these names take me back!) role used by Wenger in his early days to shore up a lead with some tough defensive midfield tackling!

One thing is for sure- Flamini has come of age in the last couple of months as a player with real character. And I love character in a player as much as skill!

I agree with the view that starting Song AND Diaby together was a risky move because they are both so inexperienced. That said, it was only through set-pieces that Portsmouth scored and looked threatening, so in defensive terms they did a good job protecting the back four. I also thought Diaby looked great in the first half- and I'm convinced that with more development he can become an excellent Arsenal central midfielder.

Losing two points was disappointing but we must take it on the chin and move on... there is a lot to play for yet!

Anon (8.54) thanks for the article suggestion. I'm sure in the upcoming weeks the tussle for fourth place will get good mention on the site!

4/14/2006 7:53 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

There is little I can add other than sympathise (again) with having anticipated a return of one top defender only to lose him almost immediately. But it appears to be only one week's absence for Sol.


4/14/2006 9:18 pm


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