Arsene Wenger believes Sol Campbell is capable of 'big performance'
Arsene Wenger will place his complete trust in Sol Campbell to make a late decision over his fitness to face Barcelona tonight.
With William Gallas injured, Campbell is struggling to play more than one game a week and has had a tight hamstring since Saturday’s 1-0 win against Wolves. Wenger, though, wants the former England centre-back in his team and believes that he does still have further big performances left in him.
“If Sol declares himself completely fit he will play,” said Wenger. “I believe he has another big performance in his body. He is experienced enough to tell me if he's fit enough or not. I trust him completely to be responsible. He's not on an ego trip. He doesn't want to let the team down."
Campbell did not train fully yesterday, but was named in an 18-man squad that also includes Craig Eastmond and Fran Merdia as cover in midfield and defence.
“The decision is between Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre, knowing that the disadvantage with Silvestre and Thomas Vermaelen is that it's two left-footed players," said Wenger.
“The disadvantage of Sol is that it's his second game in four days. I also believe we have to focus on the team performance. If we do not win the ball and give them the ball at the Nou Camp, no matter who plays centre back, he will have problems.”
Wenger will also make a late decision on Tomas Rosicky, whose calf is still sore after the challenge from Wolves captain Karl Henry that caused such controversy. Rosicky has four stud-marks down his calf and Arsenal are unhappy with the way Henry claimed that the Czech midfielder had exaggerated his injury.
“When you look at his calf, you can see the tackle of Henry was not as innocent as it looked,” said Wenger. “But we have to focus on this game rather than answer the critics. We are used to that. No matter what happens, we always get that. We have to lose that and focus on this game.”
One player almost certain to start tonight is Nicklas Bendtner, whose aerial threat has brought an important added variation to Arsenal’s game.
“He is important because he gives us something different,” said Wenger. “He has size, he is good in the air, on crosses you have hope with him. When people told us you have no Plan B he gives us a little bit different. We always want to play football but he gives us an option in the air that we didn’t have without him.”