Mid-Week Special: Sol Is Back At The Back

Not so breaking news anymore, as I'm sure all of you read about it yesterday, but the long-rumored move to bring back Sol Campbell to Arsenal came to fruition yesterday, with big man signing a short-term deal through the end of this season, potentially re-signing in the summer. Sol was a legend for us in his first go around, a captain at Sp*rs abandoning the neighbors to sign for Arsenal on a Bosman free transfer in 2001. He went on to win the Double with us, was part of the Invincibles of 2003-2004, and as I'm sure we all remember, headed in our only goal while we were down to 10 men against Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.

There have been mixed reactions to the move, understandably so. When he did leave Arsenal, it was a bit sketchy. He got Arsenal to cancel his contract under the assumption that he was going to play abroad, I believe it was in Turkey. Then he turned around and signed for Portsmouth. Obviously a player gets a nice fat signing-on fee in such situations, while we got a great big bag of fuck all. So it wasn't the nicest nice guy thing in the world to do. Still, since his departure we haven't had that dominant central defender that has been the lynchpin on Arsenal defenses since Tony Adams (though there were plenty before him as well), and Kolo Toure was never quite the same afterward. That's not to say that we can expect him to walk into our squad at age 35 and be the same player he once was.

This, I believe, is the main reason that some Arsenal supporters are lukewarm about the signing, that they don't believe Sol still has it; that, and some people just want us to spend 20 million pounds on a name, but that's just a pipe dream. The reason, I believe, that Arsene chose to sign Sol rather than a younger player is that he still believes Johan Djourou can and will be the long-term answer at the back. He may be out for most of this season injured, but I do like Djourou and think he's a heck of a player. Sol won't be around long enough, one would have to think, to "stunt his growth."

Sol will have to shake off the rust pretty quickly. He was unsigned by Pompey at the beginning of this season and actually signed for League Two outfit Knotts County Berry Farm. Not a bad gig for a player looking to walk off into the sunset earning a comfortable living and playing not the greatest level of football. But he had barely played two matches when he demanded to leave; the whole situation was a bit sketchy to be honest, and Knotts County obviously weren't pleased, but consented to his release. It only affects us in that he was able to sign with us, but despite training with our squad for several months, last night's reserve match at Upton Park against the Hammers' kids (which our boys won 4-2, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas-Rodham-Clinton with a hat trick) was big Sol's first match in 8 months' time.

Sol seemed excited to be back in the Arsenal fold (and who wouldn't be, amiright?), saying:

There are still a few technicalities to iron out, but I have signed for Arsenal until the end of the season, and it's fantastic, great, marvellous. The old enthusiasm is back. 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.

And that's what it comes down to, doesn't it? For me, I trust Arsene's judgment on players, even defenders, so I'm a bit more optimistic that this will work out for Arenal's benefit. If you're skeptical, it's no judgment on you; I was feeling the exact same way when the move was first talked up. Still, Sol is a legend, he's back with us, and even his age, for a central defender, isn't the worst thing in the world. I'll happily be singing his song when he's introduced once again.

What this means for our other moves is unclear. Arsene was quoted in the press yesterday as being unwilling to sell anyone at this time, but with Sol's arrival, that could change things. Philippe Senderos has been wanting away for months, has clearly lost the manager's confidence, and if he wants a place in Switzerland's World Cup squad, will need regular first-team football somewhere, so I feel he should be allowed to move on. As exasperating as Swiss Tony has been at times, I've long felt he was hard done by. Some of our best, most miserly defenses in the last few years have featured Senderos. He's certainly a confidence player: when things go well, there's absolutely nothing to fear, but when he made a mistake and the fans got on him a bit, you could almost guarantee more mistakes would follow. If he stays, I do hope he gets a bit of time here and there, but if he goes, I do wish him the best.

Now that Mr. Campbell has returned, I'm a little more comfortable with our center back situation. We've been playing Gallas and Vermaelen almost exclusively in the middle of the defense, and everyone needs a rest now and then, but with Silvestre (who doesn't inspire much confidence, oooohhh BABAYYYY) and Senderos (who doesn't have the manager's confidence) as the only available options, one can see why. Campbell brings a great deal of experience to the table, as well as more size and strength than any of our other defensive options, which is no bad thing. We won't know just how ready for the big time Sol is until he steps in, so I'll withhold judgment, but all told it's not a bad signing as far as backup defenders are concerned.

Since I didn't post a Roundup on Monday (apologies, but I have a job... stupid priorities), I didn't comment on the draw with Everton in a driving rainstorm, and I won't go too in-depth now. Suffice it to say that Everton, after being mauled by us on Match Day One: The Quickening, came out with some fire in their bellies. They didn't allow us the space to get our possession and passing game rolling, and the fact that a UFC referee seemed to be officiating didn't hurt them, Fellaini just roaming around looking for people to foul like a latter-day Chopper Harris or Vinnie Jones (or Peter Storey, for that matter). Still, they seemed to want it a bit more, and were rewarded for their efforts. They might very well have had all three points, but for an injury time equalizer from Tomas Rosicky, so our boys snatched a point at the death and nearly could have had another in the dying minutes as well. Luckily Andrei Arshavin woke up long enough to hassle the defenders late on. Let's try for 90 minutes of that next time, Dr. Drei.

I'll have more for us on Friday, hopefully. For now, let's just remember that Clichy is no longer the last of the Invincibles anymore.

Double, Double, Double, Sol Campbell has won the Double, And the Scum from the Lane, Have won fuck all again, And Sol Campbell has won the Double!

Stay classy, y'all.