Despite successfully registering himself on the scoresheet last time out in the league against Swansea City, the 2015/16 campaign has so far proven a rather fruitless one for Arsenal’s Joel Campbell. Some football fans may even be forgiven for forgetting the Costa Rican international still plied his trade for the Gunners in the first place…
After partially impressing for his nation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil over a year ago, many expected the now 23-year-old to stake his claim for a regular spot in the English top-flight on the back of his busy summer. Such an outcome is still ultimately yet to materialise for the wide-man, however, who after several loan moves away from the Emirates, just hasn’t managed to force his way into Arsene Wenger’s first team plans.
However, as Arsenal recently lost both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to frustrating injuries last month, the long-term Gunners boss was rather forced into starting Campbell against the formidable Bayern Munich this week. He may not have stood out a great deal against Pep Guardiola’s intimidating outfit of course, but let’s face it, neither did many of his Arsenal teammates in the cold light of day.
So then, on the back of Arsenal’s mid-week loss to the expensively assembled Bundesliga giants – does Joel Campbell actually have a meaningful future left at the Emirates beyond this season, or are the attacker’s days with the Gunners now heavily numbered indeed?
Well, although the 23-year-old may not admittedly arrive as anyone’s favourite Arsenal player right in the here and now, Campbell does in-fact offer at least some degree of potential for Arsene Wenger to consider this season. The Costa Rican international has impressed somewhat when given starting opportunities out on loan after all…
When it comes to driving right at the heart of defences inside the final third, displaying a certain prowess in the long-shot department just outside the opposition’s penalty box and simply providing a willing pair of legs for the rest of his team-mates to work off of in front of goal, Campbell stands out.
He may have a tendency to drift out of certain games when the going gets tough – and even lose possession of the ball all too easily on occasion – but every player seemingly has their shortcomings, especially in their early twenties. Arsene Wenger could therefore find a more of a meaningful role for the marauding front-man in 2015/16, but only if further injury complaints go on to afflict the current Gunners squad this term.
In reality, whilst Campbell looks like he may well develop into a decent player in the not too distant future, carving out a long-term career at the Emirates is going to prove a task much easier said than done for the up and coming Costa Rican. The level of competition among Arsenal’s first choice starting XI is arguably too much for someone of his overall skill-set to handle – for if he were plying his trade at an all-round less prestigious club, few would likely offer him much of a second glance.
Campbell just doesn’t seem entirely suited to the Gunners’ style of play at this stage in the proceedings. He looks somewhat out of place among Wenger’s first-team plans, and doesn’t even compare when held up against the likes of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. If Arsenal still want to consider themselves a major player on the European footballing scene these days, Wenger needs to construct a level of squad depth that is far more superior than the hit-or-miss back-up options currently at his disposal.
Yet if the Gunners persevere with too many players of Joel Campbell’s standard – someone who arguably won’t make the grade no matter how long he stays at the Emirates – the overall quality within Arsenal’s ranks will only decrease in the long-run. The North Londoners will eventually lose their lofty status among the English top-flight if such a trend continues, leaving the money-spending likes of Manchester City to maintain their position at the top of the league for the foreseeable future.
As the Gunners categorically failed to improve their squad a great deal over the summer transfer window, however, perhaps Campbell will in fact remain at Arsenal for the rest of the 2015/16 campaign – as the Emirates faithful inevitably witness their side crumble towards the end of the season in light of the pure lack of squad depth available to Wenger.
— Europcar Sport (@EuropcarSport) October 28, 2015