Sol Campbell: Skill alone isn’t going to get Arsenal out of trouble

He’s back for another guest column and the former Gunners legend delivers a warning to his former club ahead of tonight’s tie with AC Milan…


The Europa League is the only thing Arsenal can go for to salvage their season.

Wenger’s had this before – disgruntled fans, even with the FA Cup wins. They’re just disappointed with performances, which have just been way below standards. Mathematically, the season can be turned around, but those sums don’t factor in momentum and where players are emotionally.

Emotions are harder to turn around than simply saying ‘there are plenty of points to play for’. There’s a big difference.

The Gunners are clearly going through a difficult period right now with results, but the board need to wait and see how the season ends, and then look at it. That way, you give respect to the manager.

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For me, if Wenger wants to keep his job, he needs to reach the Europa League final at least to give Arsenal a chance at being back into the Champions League.

The guy has got to go for it because that’s the only thing he’s got to aim for. I can’t see the getting into the top four games through the league, so going through the backdoor like Man United did last season is the glimmer at the end of the tunnel. But, there are a lot of games to go until the final.

I’ve watched Milan this campaign. Gennaro Gattuso has come in with that in-your-face attitude just like he used to play.

Some people probably raised an eyebrow at his approach, but the main thing is he’s brought heart and soul to the club.

They’re a decent side but it’s not like they’ve got amazing players. It’s just working as a team.

Arsenal have to approach this game with the same effort, and use their skill will come out. But if they don’t work, they will be out-run by Milan over the two games. So, The Gunners have to match them.

It comes back to that old saying, ‘earn the right to play’. If you don’t, nine times out of ten, you’re going to get turned over.

That’s what Milan have at the moment. They’re really working for each other.

Gattuso has brought in that togetherness and work ethic, and Arsenal could use something similar.

When I watch Wenger’s men, there’s a feel of easy street. Maybe they’re going through the motions, or maybe this is the new pace of Arsenal, maybe people are looking too much at the club’s history and the success that went before, rather than the reality right now.

It’s a totally different team now compared to when I was at the club, or Tony Adams’s and David Seaman’s era.

Back in those days, Arsenal had power, pace, skill and drive, a never say die attitude.

How I look at it now is: there is skill, but the understanding of the demands of the Premier League at the highest level hasn’t quite sunk in with some of the players yet.

Some of them are just off the pace – not energy wise, but thinking wise.

It seems as though they haven’t learnt how to manage a game. How to get through difficult moments. How to see games out. How to batten down the hatches and ride it out.

It’s almost like they think skill is always going to get them out of trouble. And it’s not. They need to learn what you can get away with and what you can’t. They’re in a flux moment now – shall I stick, shall I go?

There’s no cohesive way of playing, they’re not all on the same wavelength.

There’s gaps everywhere, people aren’t doing the simple things, and that’s where they need to strip back and build back up.

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What do you think?