Competition. It’s what makes us the best we can be, whatever we do. In football, in relationships, in life, we are forever fighting with competition.
But for Arsenal’s Joel Campbell, it’s a fight that is testing his belief.
They say one chance is all you need, Campbell is still holding on for that chance, and with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck in the picture, it’s a chance that he may never get.
It’s hard to believe, but Campbell has racked up just 4 appearances as a senior player in and Arsenal shirt, with 3 of those coming from off the bench. It’s even harder to believe when I tell you that he’s officially been an Arsenal player since 2011!
And don’t bother calling him a young prospect anymore, Campbell turns 23 this year, meaning that he inevitably needs serious game time before he hits his peak at 26 years old.
Wenger will know this is a make or break season for him, and after playing first team football for the last 3 years, he’ll be keen to carry on doing just that.
It’s no secret that Arsenal are in need of some new life, so who better to inject some change than this man.
Let’s just say Joel Campbell hasn’t had the easiest of times settling in at the Emirates, after a series of loan spells and injury setbacks have kept him from wearing the famous red and white.
In 2011, he joined the Gunners but was refused a work permit to play football in the UK, meaning the only thing Wenger could do was send him back out abroad to continue playing. Not once, not twice, but three times.
He enjoyed successful loan spells at Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiacos, with both his appearances and goal tally’s increasing at each club. He was then rewarded for his efforts, after travelling to Rio in the Summer for a World Cup in which he carried his Costa Rica side through the group stages.
The problem for Campbell now is he is no longer in the spotlight, he has sunk to the bottom of the pack again, and probably choked on his Weetabix the morning he saw Welbeck had signed for the club.
With Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup, it seems most of his playing time will be from off the bench, or during the FA Cup, where Wenger is known to deploy his young talent. But with a fit again Walcott, and in-form Danny Welbeck to compete with, it will be a challenge for the Number 28.
This weekend Arsenal entertain Burnley at the Emirates, and three points look likely for this Gunners side, following a dismal start to the campaign for Sean Dyche’s team.
It also provides the perfect opportunity to bring something new into attack, in the form of a 22-year-old Costa Rican. Joel Campbell could quite easily make the straight switch with Danny Welbeck, allowing him to get used to his surroundings against an opposition that currently hold the worst goal difference in the Barclay’s Premier League.
With Campbell brought in this weekend, Welbeck will gain a well deserved rest and Campbell can grab the chances and more importantly, the confidence to play with this world-class Arsenal side.
The move will answer a series of questions that have sat on Arsenal fans lips for a while now. Is he good enough?
If Alexis can team up with Campbell well enough, we could be looking at three strikers all in contention for a starting place, which takes me back to my opening line. Competition.
Danny Welbeck has been phenomenal since joining the Gunners in September, but if he is to pick up an injury, who do we bring in? Podolski is past it in terms of a full 90 minute game, and injuries are still a setback to both Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo.
Wenger will have no choice but to turn to Campbell, and for a man who has spent his life playing on the wings, the transition could either be a stroke of genius, or a slip up worse than Steven Gerrard.
Whatever happens, we need to find out before it’s too late.
The first thing you have to note with Joel is his versatility, he isn’t fussed which side of the wing he plays, which means he will always do it playing 110%. As a rare left footed player in this Arsenal team, Campbell has the ability to cut in and have a go at goal when playing on the right, something Chambo and Walcott struggle to do. Likewise, he provides a sweet left-footed cross for the likes of Giroud and Welbeck who we know provide a serious aerial threat.
We’ll talk pace now, and boy does he have that. Coming third highest in the infamous 40m sprint test is something he can boast about, falling short to Bellerin and Walcott. And at 5ft 10in, he is the perfect type of player to play quick football, with less need to hold up the ball.
He is young, which means he is never afraid to try something different, he has come back from a club (Olympiacos) who love to have shots on the edge of the area, which is something we fail to do.
Furthermore, he now knows he has a fight on his hands, and if Wenger selects him, it’s not just because he ‘felt like it’. That means he will play his heart out to show Le Boss exactly what he’s missing out on, and I for one can’t wait to see that.
But it’s not all good news. Campbell suffers with stamina at the moment, purely because he isn’t playing week in, week out. He is also too short to latch on to a number of heading opportunities, meaning a lot of play has to be dictated on the floor.
Campbell has only played short stints as a striker, so it will be new for all of us when we eventually do see him playing up top.
He has the ability and competition to do a job, all he needs is a chance Mr Wenger.
Joel Campbell Career Since Joining:
11/12 – Lorient (25 apps, 3 goals)
12/13 – Real Betis (28 apps, 2 goals)
13/14 – Olympiacos (32 apps, 8 goals)