Spurs are not the real enemy

The Arsenal Fan's View
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The Independent Football

Sol Campbell: very good centre-half. Arsenal have two already, plus a door-stop from Latvia (plus another really quite talented one called Upson you don't see much of because he has been designated "promising" and left in the potting shed to ripen and then go mouldy). Still, you can't have too much of a good thing, even if it's a great big good thing that can't pass for toffee. Arsenal fans are used to that.

At all events, I have stood too long at the Clock End and watched Arsenal forwards bear prettily down on a barely tended Tottenham goal, only for a vast black and white shape to coalesce in one's peripheral vision and then burst like a thundercloud all over the party. The reason I know I'm happy that Campbell is coming to Arsenal is because I know I'd be profoundly distressed if he went to Manchester United.

Here's the point. Manchester United are the real enemy. Tottenham do not worry me. Yes, I "hate" them but only in the way that 21st-century Saxons hate Normans – a bit fatuously. There was a time and place for feeling threatened by Tottenham, and that time – for the time being – is past.

There are of course those early-medieval folk who think a brilliant Tottenham player is never good enough to lace Arsenal boots on to his own feet. Nonsense. "Good enough" is the issue here, not whether the guy has the right geo-political credentials. And remember Pat Jennings? Highbury survived that little trauma, didn't it? Avenell Road did not suddenly open up and the burger stand was not instantly deodorised by the sulphurous fumes belching from the pit below.

I will enjoy, however, Tottenham supporters' despair in their loss. I will enjoy watching Sol coalesce. I will adore following Tony Adams' master-classes in the Arsenal Way ("No, Sol, iambic pentameters are not leading lights of the North American Soccer League").

What Campbell's arrival will not compensate for is the terrible injury that is being inflicted by the Patrick Vieira affair. By which I mean the damage my most beloved ever player is doing to Arsenal, to football and, perhaps above all, to himself. Sorry, no ex-Tottenham journeyman can mend a dessicated heart. He can put in a few tackles, look like he cares, and stick around a while. And then, if he puts in the hours and still fails to come over as a greedy, narcissistic, spoiled child of his time... then we'll see.

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