There is no doubt that the Greek Gods were shining down on Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud last night as the Gunners took apart Marco Silva’s Olympiacos side. In what was not only a must win game, but a game in which the North London side had to win by two clears goals or a minimum score of 2-3, he picked the perfect time to net his first Arsenal hat-trick.
The French striker delivered the goods with two fine finishes and a spot-kick, booking Arsenal’s place in the Champions League last-16 with a 0-3 away win over Olympiacos in Piraeus.
And while Giroud was quite rightly the Man-of-the-Match, every player in the team deserved a pat on the back for the performance they put in – particularly centre-back Laurent Koscielny and midfielder Aaron Ramsey. While talking to BT Sport after the game, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard told Gary Lineker that for him, Ramsey is the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League (via the Mirror).
While it was certainly a night in which every Arsenal player lived up to the ability we know they all possess, one man went beyond the call of duty and delivered with what could only be called a coming of age. With a breakthrough performance that must have manager Arsene Wenger rethinking any thoughts he may have had about letting him leave in January, that player of course is Costa Rican international Joel Campbell.
Following an ineffective display a month ago against Sheffield Wednesday in the Gunners 0-3 Capital One Cup loss, manager Arsene Wenger could have just simply left him on the bench, waiting to unload the flop once the winter transfer window opened in January.
The manager, however, stuck with the 23-year-old, despite fans calling for him to be dropped following the shocking opportunity to score that he had against West Brom a few weeks ago. And Wenger was rewarded for his faith, with Campbell’s efforts last night and the beautiful assist he provided for one of Giroud’s goals suggesting he has what it takes to succeed at Arsenal.
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When asked what he thought of Campbell’s performance after the match Wenger was full of praise for the forward.
“Joel Campbell is a very good player who has individual skill but what I also like is that he is a real team player who fights for the team,” he said (via ESPN).
“On top of that he will get to an age where he becomes a real professional footballer.
“He came from Costa Rica at a very young age, went to four different clubs on loan and that made him tough.
“Now he gets his chance and he is getting stronger in every game.”
In case you missed it here is the beautiful assist he provided for Giroud: