The Young Guns Column: Joel Campbell Can Be Everything We Need


With the world watching, Joel Campbell set the field alight with a goal and an assist on the biggest stage of all. Uruguay were the opponents and they were also the favourites for victory. The problem was they underestimated the Costa Ricans and particularly young Campbell- a player we were proud to say was a member of the Arsenal team.

The fact that he’s yet to feature in English football doesn’t matter, we own him and now, after three years on-loan, it’s time for Campbell to return to Arsenal. Arsene Wenger has stated that he will get the chance in pre-season to prove himself and fight for a squad place- but I’m going much further. Campbell, in my eyes, can be a first-team star.

I’m not suggesting we scrap our transfer activity, give him the number 9 jersey and stick him up front, not yet anyway, but Campbell can be a key asset to the Arsenal side. What we lacked last season was a player to run in behind. I’m a big fan of Olivier Giroud and I can guarantee when he has support up top he will thrive. Campbell’s runs in behind the defence will unlock a whole new part of Giroud’s game which we are yet to see.

For Campbell to be utilised properly we have to change the current formation we use. The system doesn’t work, we may have plenty of midfielders and wingers to accommodate but our main striker does not operate well alone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all you wouldn’t buy a car and then complain that it sinks when you drive it into the harbour.

Giroud needs support and, if reports are to be believed, he will be getting it soon. However, the concern I have is that a lot of the mentioned players we are supposed to be targeting do not change our style of play enough. Mandzukic or Benzema, take your pick, will be used 9/10 times as a lone striker. Thus dropping Giroud to the bench, which as a result drops Yaya Sanogo off the bench, which as a result sends Joel Campbell out on-loan.

Not ideal. What we need is to change the style. Benzema and Giroud have shown on the international stage that they work well as a striking duo but Joel Campbell and Giroud can be a formidable front line. With Campbell’s pace and aggression to get on the end of every ball put through to him, Giroud’s deft touches and flick ons will be utilised. Campbell’s runs will find space, which in turn will give Mesut Ozil the receiver he needs.

Mesut Ozil has been great this season. However, he’s been disappointing due to what we were used to seeing at Real Madrid. That’s not necessarily his fault, as you wouldn’t say Tom Brady is a terrible quarterback if he was throwing to T-Rex’s that can’t catch. The big picture is that Ozil, and Giroud, have both under performed- and both have done this due to the fact that their is a piece of the attacking jigsaw missing.

Joel Campbell can be that final piece. The only difficulty is that he is still young and is of course unproven in the Premier League. This is why we must continue to delve into the transfer market. I’m firmly in the belief we need one striker, an experience one- a big name. Add them to Giroud, Sanogo and Campbell, suddenly your eyes light up. That gives us plenty of options.

Bringing in two strikers is beginning to look like a bad idea. Someone will be dropped to the bench and as mentioned before this will effect the playing time our young attacking contingent receives. Yaya Sanogo was impressive when he played last year and he was arguably the player that sealed Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph as his introduction completely changed the flow of the game.

We’re looking for answers in the market but we may just have it right under our nose. I hate to say it but if we allow Joel Campbell to go on-loan to another club this season we may find ourselves in the situation that Chelsea were last year- crying out for goals when they have a young, capable and on-form playing plying his trade elsewhere. Let’s not make Campbell the new Romelu Lukaku. Let’s give him his chance. We’ll reap the rewards.

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