This week’s man of the moment isn’t to much of a surprise, but it’s not the one that’s getting the headlines. I like an underdog. The players that struggle until they make it, their the ones to watch.
The two players of the week both started off dubiously in Arsenal colours, but I have to lean towards a new favourite. It’s Joel Campbell. And you’d have to have a heart of stone to be an Arsenal fan and not appreciate the week in week out shift he puts in. It’s also unfair to highlight that his only attribute is running hard and defending well for a wide player. He’s clearly talented and he brings a lot to every game and the team in general. I’ve been really impressed with his recent performances and none more so the two games over the last week. I didn’t catch the FA Cup fixture, but from what I gather he looked good, and he scored a great goal. Of course, Giroud was again almost note perfect away in a big game – bizarrely missing an open goal in the process, but his all round play was at the top of his game, a real shame Arsenal couldn’t focus for one more measly minute. It was a truly Arsenal performance. Brilliant until the players let themselves down.
To the point, Joel Campbell has earned his place. More than Chamberlain. Perhaps more than Walcott, who was a big disappointment on Wednesday night. It’s simply impossible to not love the Costa Rican’s attitude. No fuss, just happy to play for the team. It’s significant that he runs himself into the ground every game – that’s nothing to do with fitness, it’s pure desire. Thinking back to the World Cup again, this is the player everybody saw, a tireless, pacy winger causing problems without ever slowing down or hiding from the game. Campbell was involved in most of Arsenal’s build up play, helping himself to smart and delicate assist for the great first equaliser. Ramsey’s another one who’s been creeping back to fame. A great last run of games from the Welshman. For me, Campbell absolutely comes alive when ever he’s around the box. Look at all of his goals and assists since pushing into the side, every sprinkle of magic happens either inside the box or right on the edge. He plays with a patience and balance that Chamberlain currently lacks. Take Ramsey’s goal for example, he brings it down perfectly, holds the ball, waits for the run and the pass is a delight, it’s weighted to perfection. Going back further, the goals he created for Alexis Sanchez in the Champions league mirrored his contribution at Anfield. And if I remember correctly, over the last month there’s been plenty of missed opportunities that would have otherwise handed Campbell a couple of equally similar assists – his first touch pass inside the box to Ramsey in a game I can’t quite remember springs vaguely to mind.
I don’t think we can associate his impact on the same level as Coquelin yet, because that’s different ball game really, but I enjoy watching him – and that he plays for the team. Great work ethic. Great touch. Vision. Pace. There’s not much more a player needs. Joel Campbell deserves any praise levelled at him, he’s currently Arsenal’s best winger and his defensive contributions far out way those of Chamberlain and Walcott. I’ve said it before, but if he’s put to the side again because of an imminent Sanchez return it’ll be disappointing. I don’t care who Wenger’s favourites are, you play the players in form. And this brings me to Arteta, who was a bad substitution from Wenger. Liverpool were choking Arsenal and bringing on Arteta simply invited more pressure. Wenger increased the heat for his players when they were already in a furnace. We needed pace and power to see out the remaining minutes.
Annoyingly, that’s the sort of game we could have done with an Elneny presence. I have no idea how good he is, never watched or heard of him, but he feels like a Diaby replacement. Arsenal had no midfield, which was dominated in every aspect on Wednesday night. We need that presence there.
All in all it was tough game to watch for a fan, for the neutral I imagine it was fantastic. But Arsenal march on, and on Sunday we approach the gates of Mordor.