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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Campbell makes Arsenal debut
Sol Campbell makes his presence felt in the Arsenal defence
Sol's last match was against Arsenal in the FA Cup
Arsenal 2-0 Real Mallorca

Sol Campbell made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt on Monday night since signing from arch rivals Spurs.

The 26-year-old England defender came on as a substitute for the final 10 minutes, replacing Igors Stepanovs, as the Gunners beat a hard-working Real Mallorca side 2-0.

"It's a relief. It was so nice to get back out there even if it was only for 10 minutes," Campbell told the Sun.

I've been in training for five days now and in a week's time I should be sharper
Sol Campbell after his Arsenal debut
"I've got it out of the way and now on to the next step.

"I want to get down to playing, I've had a long lay-off since the end of March.

"But I've been in training for five days now and in a week's time I should be sharper."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger took a more cautious line over his controversial signing.

Bad tempered

"He's been working hard and wanted to play and wasn't sure if he could," said the Frenchman.

"He was really tired but I told him to sit on the bench and he might play for 10 or 20 minutes."

In a bad tempered match Fatih Akyel scored an own-goal in the first half with Giovanni van Bronckhorst on target in the final minutes.

Mallorca were always second best and rarely threatened.

It's important that he joined us - he's an international class defender
Thierry Henry

And it was no surprise when the lead eventually arrived.

French star Patrick Vieira pushed forward and after playing the ball into the penalty area for Dennis Bergkamp, Fatih diverted the ball past Leo Franco and into his own net.

It was a scrappy first half and, aware of tired legs, manager Arsene Wenger made six half-time substitutions including summer signings Van Bronckhorst and Francis Jeffers.

Following last Wednesday's 4-1 defeat against Turkish side Kocaelispor, Arsenal struggled to dominate in the second period, missing the speed of substituted striker Thierry Henry.

New signing Jeffers had a 25-yard shot well saved and then Freddie Ljungberg, another substitute, came close after a clever pass from Ashley Cole.

Fitness problems

The Gunners finally got the second goal their play deserved when Roa could only push Jermaine Pennant's centre to Van Bronckhorst, who made no mistake from 12 yards.

Henry expressed his delight that Campbell was now a fixture at Highbury.

"I am happy Sol is playing for us, because he used to kick me and now he's going to play with me," he said.

"Seriously, it's important that he joined us - he's an international class defender.

"He didn't have enough time to show it today - but it was difficult to run past him when he was playing for Tottenham."

Arsenal have now played four pre-season friendlies and will next play Italian champions Roma on Wednesday.

Campbell's return to fitness could prove timely for Wenger as Martin Keown is facing a ban at the start of the season afer being charged by the FA with violent conduct.

Links to more Arsenal stories are at the foot of the page.


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