Early Doors

Merry old Sol

Early Doors

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It feels as though all Early Doors has spoken about recently is Sol Campbell's return to Arsenal and Portsmouth's imminent bankruptcy.

Both matters were safe havens for lampoonery because, for all the talk of them, there seemed no likelihood that they would actually come to pass.

Even when the news filtered through that the 35-year-old Campbell would be running out for the Gunners reserves at West Ham last night, ED wasn't getting too whipped out in the frenzy, as it is fairly routine for trialists to appear for a club's second string.

Now, however, it seems Pompey fans should be really worried, as their former defender has indeed rejoined the Gunners until the end of the season, which the veteran defender said made him "ecstatic".

Arsene Wenger has been talking up Campbell's abilities for a while, and it's become clear why now. The Arsenal boss has been doing his best to make his first re-signing in 13 years at the club appears shrewder and less desperate than it is. There are elements of both traits in this move.

On the one hand, there is no need to integrate him into the squad, and £40k a week is almost certainly much cheaper than signing a current international centre-back in his 20s would have been. Not to mention that such a wage is less than a third of what Patrick Vieira is getting at Manchester City, and also £10k a week less than what he reportedly picked up at Meadow Lane.

However, with his extensive scouting network and his own eye for talent, are there really no other young defenders out there who could be relied upon as cover for William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen and prove a good investment for the club's future?

Ultimately, though, the deal clincher may be that if it means that Philippe Senderos has to leave the club in order to boost his World Cup hopes, then that will do just fine for most Arsenal fans.

Wenger appears to finally be reining in his age discrimination policy which has seen many good players leave the club once they enter the latter stages of their careers. He is also believed to be offering Gallas a contract extension longer than the standard one-year usually offered to all the over-30s in his squad.

And now that he's taken the step to re-sign an old player, perhaps he should think about bringing back Emmanuel Adebayor to help out with his injury problems up front? The Manchester City striker gave an interview about last week's tragic attack on the Togo team in Angola while wearing an Arsenal polo shirt, so he must be keen.

It's hard to believe that Campbell has reached 35 and has managed to have such a successful career without once commanding a transfer fee. Is he the most decorated footballer ever to make as many moves as he has without costing any club a single penny? Discuss.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "One of my friends, one of the few I have at the moment, said to me, 'you are like Rocky'. I am full of punches and blood but I say to my opponent, I am not hurt, punch harder because you are not hurting me. There is nothing that could knock me down, my mother punched harder" - Juventus fans must hope that Ciro Ferrara's tenure as manager doesn't drag on like the Rocky saga.

STAT OF THE DAY: QPR have not won an FA Cup match in their last 13 games in the competition (since 2001) a dismal run that is longer than any other side in the Football League.

COMING UP: LIVE commentary galore again this evening - there's Liverpool v Reading and Newcastle v Plymouth in the FA Cup, which both kick off at 19:45.

But, before that, get your fix of African Cup of Nations action with Cameroon v Gabon at 16:00 and Zambia v Tunisia at 18:30. You can also watch those games LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and via the Eurosport Player.

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