01 November 2015

That's why Campbell is mm-mm good!

Well. I guess we have our right-wing sorted for the next eight to ten years now, don't we? After much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, we're spared the rending of garments for at least a few days after Joel Campbell turned in a confident performance in a vital 0-3 win at Liberty Stadium, scoring his first goal for Arsenal a mere four years after signing for the club. More than that though, from the opening minutes it seemed clear that he was bound and determined to prove a point, and prove it he did. That his goal came as icing on the cake more than as main course is beside that point.

Rewind your memories back to Tuesday, when Campbell was doing his best impression a decapitated chicken, running about hither and yon with little sense of purpose and even less of end-product. Yes, he won an impressive number of tackles when tracking back, but a fair few of these came after being dispossessed. To suggest that he looked a bit out of his depth would be a bit generous; many of us spent the last few days lambasting the lad for his wastefulness and his overall quality, even going so far as suggesting that he should bear the blame for our loss to Sheffield Wednesday and to Dinamo Zagreb. As the 'thinking' went mid-week, Campbell has had two chances to prove himself, and he'd failed both rather miserably. Two matches does not a legend make, nor does a third, but we at least witnessed a more-confident performance that helped us secure three points against a foe against whom we'd struggled mightily in recent outings.

Throughout the match, we saw a much-more confident and purposeful Campbell, one who sent a signal of intent from the match's earliest moments and from there rarely looked back. Ambitious if not always-accurate passes and shots, what could become trademark tracking-back, and, yes, eventually, finishing...these could become the traits that mark Campbell as a valuable if not vital member of the squad. It is, after all, just one match, so we should be careful about our take-aways. This is, after all, a bit of a departure from the norm. Campbell has failed to make much of an impression on the handful of occasions when he's featured for us. Eager and overly optimistic opinions are making him this year's Coquelin—the perenially on-loan squad-member who finally makes good—but time will tell whether that is in fact a meaningful comparison.

For now, let's content ourselves with the knowledge that (a) your correspondent played the part of perspicacious prognosticator regarding the result, and (b) one and the same suggested that Campbell would make his mark. At this rate, I'm thinking of opening a side-business in offering lottery predictions.

Back to the realms of reality, I won't go so far out on a limb as to predict that Campbell has become this campaign's Coquelin, but I will point out that we might have to pin certain hopes to that, what with injuries to Ramsey, Ox, and Walcott thrusting Campbell into the limelight. Given more time in practice and on the pitch to gel with the likes of Cazorla, Özil, and Bellerín—with whom he's played a grand total of just 30 minutes—supporting and supplying him, he has a chance to submit more evidence in support of the idea that he's worthy of wearing the Arsenal kit.

He might not quite claim MotM honours for his efforts, but he's at least staked a claim at being a valuable member of the squad. A few more performances like this [cough, Bayern...] and we can short-list him for a Ballon D'Or. For now, though, let's enjoy his performance as one just good-enough to see us through the weekend.