Whenever the cameras were focused towards the Arsenal bench in the latter stages of the game at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, the most obvious sight was that of a frustrated Wenger. He was probably still pondering how he hadn’t done more than just touch Mourinho’s coat (he said it wasn’t ‘his’ push). The Arsenal manager had put out his best team available and came off empty handed. He didn’t slam the water bottle, but the disappointment on his countenance could not be masked. It was the look of he who had fished all night and caught nothing.
But, perhaps if he had looked directly behind him, into the face of the 22 year old Joel Campbell, he may have found an untapped weapon waiting to be cocked.
One League Cup start and a couple of substitute appearances are all we’ve seen of one of Brasil 2014’s brightest talents yet, despite great hopes to the contrary that he will be one sensation too hot to handle now he’s fully returned. Campbell has been an Arsenal player since 2011 but is yet to get the opportunity to really get out all the contents of his locker. With his pace and power, he has the blessings to be a striker but also does a good job on the wings. His game at Southampton was clearly not up to the heights of his exploits in the World Cup but there’s the sense that he will not fully become familiar with the English game unless he gets more time on the pitch.
Wenger would have us all believe that there is no chance he will let the Costa Rican leave anywhere, having ensured that Benfica’s summer plots to capture him, permanently or on loan, was foiled. The defeat in the League Cup meant that the only time we may be certain to see Campbell in the starting XI would probably be in January, when the FA Cup begins. That should, however, not be so as any perceived disinterestedness on our part to integrate him fully into the team on a weekly basis would soon invite a bid that we can’t turn down.
As much as the manager has defended his word about Campbell’s role in the team, you have to ask why he wasnt given some minutes in games like the Aston Villa and even the Galatasaray games, in which he would have not been under any enormous pressure. Those would have been good opportunities to give him proper match action, rotating him amongst the three forward positions to discover where he could be best utilised.
Campbell has stated that he is definitely ready to fight for his place in the team, and that is a good thing to cheer about. However, as a footballer, all you want to do is play, and if he doesn’t get the opportunity to do so regularly, some ‘guy’ could soon come say ‘hi’, and next you’ll hear is ‘bye’.
Could be a diamond lost.
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