Well, well, what do you know. After training for months with Arsenal, Sol Campbell was given a 45-minute run-out against West Ham in the reserves game last night. It is thought that the half match that Campbell got was some sort of trial for him. There news all around later on with direct quotes from the 35-year-old himself that it is only a matter of time before he signs for Arsenal once again.
There are still a few technicalities to iron out, but I want to sign for Arsenal until the end of the season, and it’s fantastic, great, marvellous. I’ve got to tell you it seems as though I have never been away. I’m ecstatic really to be back at Arsenal, and I have worked bloody hard to get there. Arsene Wenger has been an inspiration. He has watched me closely after letting me train at Arsenal for nearly two months now. He’s not stupid – he wouldn’t have taken me back if he didn’t like what he has seen, and I have worked and worked. I really have my confidence and fitness back and believe I can make a big, big contribution. There is fantastic quality all around the pitch within this Arsenal team and I want to be part of it, and will make a big push to try to do that, but it’s little steps at a time. There have been a few clubs, quite a bit of speculation, but going back to Arsenal – well, that is serious, and I am serious about this. I’ve missed it and I’ve a gut feeling this is the right move. It’s no longer a hunger to get back – it’s turned into a craving. I am champing at the bit. I’m fresh, I’m raring to go. It’s unbelievable to be back at Arsenal.
Now then, let’s get some fact straight. From the quote itself, it is very obvious that no contract have been signed yet but it’s looking fairly likely. For most parts, Campbell was a very good signing for the club when he came in the year 2001. No doubt the 2 doubles he won with Arsenal was contributed by his rock-solid combination with Adams/Keown and later, Kolo Toure. His towering header that had Arsenal’s name on the Champions League trophy for 70 plus minutes is another one that springs to mind.
Like everything else, there’s two sides to a story. His acrimonious departure from Arsenal that originated from the 3-2 loss to West Ham (ironic, isn’t it) at Highbury. We all thought that he would be heading out of the country for a last hurrah and was disappointingly surprised that he ended up at Portsmouth instead.
It is not Wenger’s trait to re-sign former players back in the active playing squad. If this happens, it will be the very first time we’ve seen, at least as Arsenal manager anyways. Like I mentioned before, Wenger has this wonderful sense of timing in terms of letting players leave. Should he thought that Campbell wasn’t worthy of a place in his 2006/07 squad, then why would he want to sign Campbell in 2010?
The pace will not be there anymore for the burly English defender and will need to use every ounce of his experience to survive in the cut and thrust of the Premier League today. As a back-up, he will be a decent option but not in my opinion anymore than Phillipe Senderos could be. Martin Keown thinks that if either Gallas or Vermaelen gets injured, Campbell could play well enough to remain in the first team, even when both have recovered. I highly doubt that can happen (the second part, not the injury part). While the clown, Stan Collymore thinks that Campbell should be given the captain’s armband which will set Fabregas free to do his thing (12 goals & 12 assists in first full season as captain, enough said).
Sol Campbell can really only be a bit-part player for the current Arsenal team. Probably the odd games in the FA Cup, as for the league, it would be better served if the Gallas-Vermaelen combo continues where they left off. Unless either the French or the Belgian accompanies Djourou in the medical room, Campbell will find it hard to feature in the league or the Champions League for that matter.
What are the odds for Campbell to score in the Champions League finale at Bernabeu, should we get that far? No matter how high it is, I don’t think I’ll take any punt in that.