On 1st September the transfer window slammed shut, and Arsenal ended bagging Petr Cech; their only summer signing in this transfer window. Arsenal, if reports are to be believed, ended up being the only club in the top 5 leagues to have not signed a single outfield player. The Arsene Wenger-out banter, gathered momentum exponentially on social media and has not slowed down since.
Like many have established beyond doubt, Arsenal were in need of a few more reinforcements; notably, a striker who could complement the current strike force, or (more preferably) could have been an upgrade over Olivier Giroud, and a holding midfielder who could possibly provide cover in the event Coquelin is injured. Most people would agree that it is in the striking department that arrivals were more urgently awaited. Many still maintain that Arsenal have more options up front than for the position Francis Coquelin has made his own; and in his absence, Arsenal’s balance as a unit, that is, their transition from defence and attack could be irreversibly hampered. Since most of us have spent hours scanning the internet for news on a new striker’s arrival at Arsenal, let’s keep our attention to Arsenal’s problems / solutions up front.
In the absence of a new striker and the distressing news of Danny Welbeck’s long term injury, some have taken time out to predict how this will impact Arsenal’s campaign. On the other hand, others have tried to look for solutions from within Arsenal’s current line-up. Louis Sealey’s article for the Metro.co.uk (published on the 5th of September, 2015) provides an interesting insight into one such solution.
That solution, in Sealey’s books most definitely, is Costa Rica international Joel Campbell. His whereabouts and a possible move away from the club occupied very little space in the gossip circling Arsenal football club. At the end of the window, however, the young forward ended up staying at the club. Overshadowed in discourse on transfer gossip surrounding the arrival of a world class No. 9, at the same time escaping the limelight and criticism Olivier Giroud had been subjected to throughout the transfer window, Joel Campbell’s name has finally been spelt out loud and clear on the internet. One cannot help but think that this is perhaps Campbell’s best chance at proving himself as a top quality striker; one that may not win Arsenal the title, but one that can help Arsenal perform with consistency at the top level. So what exactly can one expect from Joel Campbell this season? What really makes him a real bet for Arsenal this season? While some of the arguments presented here can be found in Sealey’s article referred to above, I have tried to elucidate on these a little more.
Campbell is a fulltime international and has delivered at the highest level.
Joel Campbell was part of the Costa Rica squad that went onto play in the quarter finals of the FIFA world cup last year. At 23 years of age, he has earned 50 caps for his national side. Needless to say, he was an integral part of a team performance very few had predicted. In Europe, Campbell has featured for regular Greek champions Olympiacos,for whom he scored a stupendous goal in the Champions’ League against Manchester United. To sum up, if he is given enough games, the chances of him playing the way he has done way from Arsenal and delivering seem high.
Sealey is right; Campbell has a point to prove
Of All the reasons provided by Sealey, the one I agree with most has to do with the fact that Joel Campbell has a point to prove to his manager and to his club; and the point being, that he is now ready to deliver.
Last season, Campbell began the season as one out of 8 strikers, all of whom, till December, were competing for 2 positions ( As Wenger typically plays with 2 strikers and one attacking midfielder in the 3 positions upfront). Those two positions were conquered indefinitely by Alexis Sanchez on arrival and Danny Welbeck upon injury to Olivier Giroud. In the second half of last season, Campbell was sent out on loan alongside two other strikers, Sanogo and Podolski. In this transfer window, instead of being loaned out he has found himself in the mix, competing with 4 strikers instead of 8, of whom one (Welbeck) is injured, while Sanogo and Akpom have been sent out on loan. One can only expect that Campbell has received this situation with a sense of excitement as well as responsibility. He must now show Arsene Wenger that he is ready to fill in, regardless of whether either of Walcott, and Giroud are injured.
Campbell is fast and creative
There is little doubt that Campbell is fast. In addition to his speed, he can also create things in the game. Some of his attributes are similar to that of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain: He is, or can be a fighter, a ball winner, very fast on the counter and has the ability to cut in from the wing, while he is also a decent passer of the ball. While we can all agree that finishing and scoring are 2 areas very few players are able to master almost immediately in the Premier League, Campbell has the proven quality and must reproduce his World Cup form in the league this season.
Arsenal’s situation and the resentment of the fan base at the end the transfer window, has undoubtedly put Arsene Wenger and the squad under immense pressure. For Arsenal’s regular starters in every game, this is a challenge they must face with a high degree of mental strength. For Campbell, it is a golden opportunity, one that he is desperate to exploit to his, and subsequently, Arsenal’s advantage.