30 October 2015

With Campbell on, Swansea's goose is cooked...

Joel Campbell should start on Saturday. Why? Because of his performance against Sheffield Wednesday. Yes, I know we lost in spectacular fashion, conceding three goals in less than 30 minutes against a Championship side. However, Campbell was perhaps alone in playing with purpose and passion even if without final product. Amidst a squad full of seemingly overawed youngsters and jaded first-teamers, Campbell continued to impress with his work-rate, his willingness to track-back, and his will to make something happen. If he can replicate that performance on Saturday, Swansea's goose will indeed be well and truly cooked.

Besides, who else are you going to throw on? Suggestions fall along a range of sanities, from throwing on Iwobi (most-sane) to slotting Cazorla or Alexis to the right (least-sane). Let's work backwards, then, from least to most.

If you move Cazorla or Alexis from their current positions, for example, you then create other problems, neither of which lend themselves to easy solutions. The least-sane of the least-sane sees Alexis play on the right with Gibbs moving up to play on the left wing with Monreal as left back, presumably because our wide defenders press so high up the pitch anyway, so what's the harm in playing two left backs together? However, we'd then have not one but two players playing out of position, and this would throw us off to degrees that we can't predict. It's the kind of experiment best saved for, say, a League Cup match. Oops.

Next in our cavalcade, why not play Cazorla on the right? After all, he's two-footed, crafty, and did impress as a winger when he first arrived. However, for one, he's remade himself as more of a deep-lying playmaker, the better to use those two feet. More to the point, though, he's not as young as he once was (shocking, I know...) and no longer has the pace that we depend on in our wingers. What's more, we'd throw away that Cazorla-Coquelin pivot that has proven so valuable from January to now. Who would we throw on alongside Coquelin? Flamini? Chambers? In either case, we'd essentially shut down our defensive midfield entirely as Coq and his partner sit deep, potentially leaving a large gap in front of them that Alexis, Cazorla, and Özil would have to be ever more mindful of,

Among our remaining options, then, is simply finding someone in the squad who can play that right wing without causing too much harm. Iwobi, for as promising as he did look, is young, unproven, and unaccustomed to that position at this level. Campbell, by modest contrast, is less-young, somewhat more proven, and more accustomed to that position at this level. Like Alexis on the left, he's an inverted winger who likes to cut to the middle to get the ball on his strong foot. Again, like Alexis, he's a crafty, quicksilver dribbler who can slalom and sluice through a defense, and he isn't shy at having a go from outside the box.

With Özil and Cazorla feeding him, and with a more-stolid defensive platform to support him, Campbell could find his groove on Saturday, at least enough to hold down the position until Ramsey, Theo, or the Ox returns to fitness. If Campbell can find the kind of form that convinced Arsène to keep him on for at least a few more months, the Costa Rican could slice Swansea wide open. I'm not saying he'll score or make us forget Theo. I'm just saying he could do enough to convince us that he's not Gervinho. While that might be a low bar to set, we could do worse. At the moment, to be honest, we'd be hard-pressed to do better.