St. Totteringham’s Day

The North London derby could turn into St. Totteringham’s Day. If Spurs lose to Arsenal on Wednesday, then mathematically it will be impossible for them to go above Arsene Wenger’s side in the Premiership. Victory for Arsenal will also deal a massive blow to Spurs chances of qualifying for the last Champions League spot.

The media focus going into Wednesday’s derby will be on Sol Campbell – the ex-Tottenham captain who left Spurs to join Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001.

Campbell has resurrected his career since joining Arsenal for a second time in January. He has also made Arsenal stronger defensively and tougher mentally. His performances may have changed Wenger’s mindset on signing experienced players, while Campbell’s recent comments may also affect the Arsenal manager’s thoughts on what players he should sign in the summer.

Spurs fans despise Campbell. If I were a Spurs fan, I would probably hate Campbell too. The thought of Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, or Cesc Fabregas leaving Arsenal to join Spurs on a free transfer is unthinkable – especially at the peak of their career.

Nevertheless, Campbell chose Arsenal ahead of a host of other top European clubs. He knew that if he signed for Manchester United his life would be a lot easier. But he must have been impressed with whatever Wenger had to say back in the summer of 2001 and made a very brave decision that took guts.

Arsenal needed Campbell. Vieira was on the verge of joining Real Madrid. Tony Adams and Martin Keown were coming to the end of their careers and their replacements – Oleg Luzhny and Igor Stepanovs – were not good enough. Campbell was a signing of intent and probably stopped certain players from leaving. He certainly helped to re-galvanize a squad that went on to win five trophies in four seasons.

To get back at Campbell, Spurs fans launched a gay witch hunt against him. Unfounded rumors spread about Campbell’s love life including one preposterous claim of him having an affair with the boxer Lennox Lewis.

Campbell, however, has never been a favorite with the majority of Arsenal fans. Perhaps it was due to him being the ex-captain of Spurs or his aloofness and brooding that culminated in Campbell walking out at half-time during a Premiership match against West Ham in 2006 when Arsenal were losing 2-1. This made the big defender a pariah with some fans.

Whatever his past actions, one thing is for certain, Arsenal need Campbell on Wednesday night. In fact, Arsenal need Campbell for the rest of the season if they have any realistic hopes of winning the title.

Last word:

Yesterday, Rory Delap took 27 throw-ins against Wolves but attempted just 26 passes in open play. That’s not right is it?

Stoke City and Tony Pulis need to leave football now.

Keep It Arsenal

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