Sheffield Wednesday aside, we have had a fabulous few weeks of football. Beating Manchester United was the biggest highlight for me, and then of course was the tactical masterclass against Bayern Munich among other positive victories. Yet I can't help but shake off the feeling that we are walking across a tightrope, one wrong move and a fall awaits us and nobody wants that.
This is nothing to do with our quality or indeed our attitude but the seasonal fear of injury. The right sided injury problem almost feels like it has kinda snuck up on us even if we have carried a few injured players already this season. The total number of players who are capable of playing in that role for us but are currently checking into the treatment room is a whopping six. All of Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Wilshere, Rosicky and Walcott would have started wide right this afternoon so Arsène has to turn to Costa Rica International, Joel Campbell. It would be fair to say that Joel Campbell has yet to tear up any trees at Arsenal thus far, neither when we have watched him play or behind closed doors at London Colny. If Arsène had seen more in training then perhaps he would have been handed some more game time thus far. That said, it feels incredibly early to completely write him off.
It is not as if we haven't seen this enough times down the years to be a little more open minded about a player who I am pretty sure has never ever started two games in a row before at Arsenal. In fact his 90 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday were his first 90 minutes of the season so far. Francis Coquelin, Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and many others before them have been written off by Arsenal fans before a run of games drew out the men in black memory eraser.
I had a search through this website to find out what my earlier views on the player were and this is what I said on the 5th January 2015
"Joel Campbell was the surprise starter I thought. Maybe he is part of the reason why we have decided to allow Lukas Podolski to leave the club on loan. We have not seen very much of him so far in an Arsenal shirt but the manager watches him a few times a week behind the scenes. He knows where he is and what he needs to do to feature more in the first team. Every time I have watched him I have come to the same conclusion which is this. There is nothing wrong with his commitment. On a number of occasions he was full bloodied in his challenge and his tracking back was very good. That is a great sign, especially in this 2015 Arsenal team. There isn't much wrong with him technically either. Can spot a pass as we witnessed at the world cup and has always scored goals. What seems to be way off is his decision making"
Nine months later and my view of the player hasn't changed one bit. He looks to me like a typical Arsenal player in the way he always wants to come to the ball rather than run away from it, he likes to drift inside and he can spot a pass but whenever I have seen him play, he finds it difficult to knit everything together and makes the wrong decisions. Now a run of games has often been the cure for many but that doesn't mean it is a guarantee for Joel Campbell. As the manager said pre match, this is an opportunity that he will need to grab in the next three weeks. He needed a Coquelin situation to arise just like last season, all the players who are ahead of him in the pecking order are just not available to play. We know what Coquelin did from that point onwards and Joel will have to 'get in while he can'
The good news for Joel is that he will have a strong and confident team around him unlike a majority of the teams he has played in during his Arsenal career. Campbell will have Bellerin running outside him for a reverse pass, he will be cutting inside towards Mesut Özil floating into spaces on the pitch to receive passes, he will have Santi Cazorla floating passes over to him with either foot and not to forget Francis Coquelin snapping into tackles and giving it early to him. Playing in a team who are on top of their game and already have excellent chemistry should make a big difference for Campbell.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
So what about Swansea City this season? They are currently in 12th position in the table and recent form suggests that they are not in the best of shape, that said they are still above Chelsea *chuckles*
Apart from last weeks victory against bottom club Aston Villa, Gary Monk's Swansea have only 2 points from their last six matches. But Swansea City away from home, in fact Swansea City just about anywhere have been an issue for us and they will more than likely have a game plan rather than sticking to their usual game.
I hope we are focused on defending well first and foremost and nothing like how we defended against Sheffield Wednesday, we are proving to be an excellent counter attacking team so let us prove that away from home in a fixture that we have dropped points in the past.
I'd love Joel Campbell to score an early goal and watch him grow in confidence because we are going to need to use a better Joel Campbell than the one we have seen. Three points and a clean bill of health would be just dandy.
Post match stuff later.