Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Campbell to sit out Gunners trip to Coyle’s Bolton

AFP , BOLTON, ENGLAND

Portsmouth’s Sol Campbell heads the ball against Cardiff City during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London on May 17, 2008.

PHOTO: AFP

Sol Campbell may have captured the headlines with his shock return to Arsenal this week, but the former England man will not be making an immediate comeback when his side face Bolton Wanderers today.

Campbell, 35, has rejoined the club he left in 2006 on a six-month contract, having been a free agent since cutting short a spell at League Two Notts County earlier in the season.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, regards him as cover for first-choice centerbacks William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen, however, and it is they who will play at the Reebok Stadium today in a fixture that also doubles as a first game in charge for new Bolton coach Owen Coyle.

Wenger did not rule out the possibility that Campbell might force his way into the England World Cup party, but argued that the veteran still had it all to prove.

“I have seen him in training and he is very sharp,” Wenger said. “His attitude is good, his talent is good, but it is the game which decides. Sol will give us experience, good advice and physically, he has worked very hard. It is an opportunity for him to relaunch his career and for us it is a good help for the rest of the season. He is dedicated, motivated and looks happy to be back.”

Campbell’s arrival has pushed Philippe Senderos further down the defensive pecking order and the Switzerland international is expected to leave during the current transfer window.

The return of captain Cesc Fabregas and defender Gael Clichy from injury are likely to be far more significant for the Gunners, who are currently in third place behind Chelsea and Manchester United in the Premier League. Especially so, Wenger argued, because he believes this season has been the most competitive in recent memory.

“There has been a general lift in the level of the teams,” Wenger said. “In January, no team is completely out of anything. There are teams who play for the title and the Champions League, and teams who play not to go down. Usually you have six or seven teams not concerned at either end. This year that is not the case. There is life in every game.”

Bolton used to be Arsenal’s least favorite away venue when Sam Allardyce was in charge of the Trotters, but Arsenal have won each of their last six meetings.

“Any team is awkward in the league at the moment for everybody,” Wenger said. “Every team is highly motivated against us. We are used to that. If we play at our best, we can win whatever happens to Bolton. Owen Coyle has done extremely well and I expect him to do well.”

Coyle took a gamble in leaving Burnley for Bolton, who will kick off in the relegation zone, but the Scot was confident his new charges would acquit themselves well.

“Arsenal are the role models for anyone wanting to play good, passing football at the highest level,” Coyle said. “They are so pleasing on the eye when they are in full flow and we know we are in for a tough challenge because Arsenal have some top quality players, but we’ve got to go toe to toe with them if we can and make sure anybody who comes here is in for an uncomfortable afternoon.”

“There should be a tremendous atmosphere, but we need to give the fans something to shout about,” he said. “I’ve inherited some very good players and it’s up to me to get the best out of them.”

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