League could be won by the team with the most Sol

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

WITH Arse­nal emerg­ing large in the rearview mir­rors of Chelsea and Manch­ester United as the English Premier­ship ti­tle race be­comes a race be­tween three teams, the most eye­catch­ing trans­fer in the Jan­uary win­dow has been the re­turn of Sol Camp­bell to north Lon­don.

Now 36 and hav­ing lost the prover­bial yard of pace, canny Gun­ners man­ager Arsene Wenger has de­cided that the vet­eran de­fender is the man who can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween winning the league and los­ing it.

Only a cou­ple of sea­sons ago, his arch-en­emy Sir Alex Fer­gu­son – and that’s the cor­rect term be­cause in their many skir­mishes Fergie once slammed Wenger as be­ing “the only man­ager who doesn’t share the tra­di­tional post­match glass of wine” – also pro­duced a mas­ter­stroke when he re­called the age­ing Hen­drik Lars­son from Swe­den and the striker helped de­liver the goals that fired United over the line.

Both Fer­gu­son and Wenger know that the Jan­uary win­dow isn’t one where you’re go­ing to stun the world of foot­ball by land­ing a re­ally top name at a big fee.

The sim­ple rea­son is be­cause by the time Jan­uary comes, most of the top play­ers have al­ready been cup-tied in com­pe­ti­tions from the Cham­pi­ons League to the FA Cup, even to the Car­ling Cup. How­ever, in terms of shoring up a side, there are plenty of bar­gains out there. And Fer­gu­son and Wenger are two of the mas­ters at sniff­ing out a bar­gain.

In­ter­est­ingly, in sign­ing Lars­son in 2007 for a cou­ple of months on loan from Hels­ing­borg, Fer­gu­son de­cided that a front­man would suit his side best in their charge to the ti­tle. Wenger ob­vi­ously reck­ons his squad is well equipped to find the net – with 53 league goals they’re by far the divi­sion’s most pro­lific team – and that it’s in de­fence where the dif­fer­ence be­tween winning and los­ing the ti­tle will be.

Camp­bell him­self is an in­ter­est­ing per­son. There is no doubt­ing his tal­ent and even in an un­der-per­form­ing Eng­land side at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups he, in both in­stances, was named in the of­fi­cial Fifa XI at the end of the tour­na­ment.

He is not the tra­di­tional “English” de­fender though. He won’t cut an at­tacker off at the knees to pre­vent him go­ing past and he will try to pass the ball out of de­fence rather than ap­ply one big size 13 boot to it and welly it over the half­way line.

And, he is fiercely pri­vate – which, in the celebrity and WAG cul­ture of the mod­ern foot­baller, goes against the flow.

Of course, he has never been for­given by Tot­ten­ham fans for mak­ing the short trip across north Lon­don to join Arse­nal all those years ago, though as a foot­ball at the peak of his pow­ers he was looking to max­imise his chance of sil­ver­ware. And, it was the right move.

Then, there have been the con­stant spew­ings of pure ha­tred from the bar­baric sec­tion of crowd that at­tends foot­ball matches. De­spite be­ing mar­ried, sug­ges­tions over the years have sug­gested that it is “for show”. Just what that has to do with his abil­ity to play the sport, or con­duct him­self as a model pro­fes­sional and up­stand­ing hu­man be­ing has to do with things is un­fath­omable, but in Eng­land the chants have fol­lowed him around.

Last May, two Spurs sup­port­ers were found guilty fol­low­ing video footage of a game at Frat­ton Park, when Camp­bell was play­ing for Portsmouth. The judge found that the sup­port­ers – one aged 42 and one 13-years-old – had shouted, “Come on gay boy, that’s my gay boy”.

From the same match, video footage showed other chants shouted by up to 2,500 fans, in­clud­ing: “Sol, Sol, wher­ever you may be, Not long now un­til lu­nacy, We won’t give a f*** if you are hang­ing from a tree,”; “Sol’s a wanker”; and other abuse.

By the time April 10 comes, and the trip to White Hart Lane, Camp­bell and his Arse­nal team-mates might be in the per­fect po­si­tion to ram any chants down the throats of the scum that is­sue them.

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