Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Joel Campbell in the wake of our 3-1 win over Sunderland in the FA Cup – in which the forward scored our first goal – likening his emergence at Arsenal to that of fan favourite Francis Coquelin, as reported by talkSPORT.
Campbell unquestionably didn’t look like Arsenal quality during his early days at the club, and after years farmed out on loan it looked like his Arsenal career was over before it even began. He’s been handed chance after chance this season though – largely thanks to our plethora of injuries in the wide areas – and is now starting to look more like Arsenal calibre.
The Costa Rican was arguably one of the best players on the pitch against Sunderland, putting a huge amount of effort in both offensively and defensively, while also grabbing the equalising goal that started our comeback.
Wenger likened his rise to the first team to that of Coquelin’s, highlighting the improvements we’ve seen in his game over the last few months.
“He’s getting stronger in every game. He makes me think about Francis Coquelin last year. Nobody expected him and suddenly he knocked on the door and said, ‘hey, my friends, I’m here.’
“What I like is you see the way he plays, he has more certainty in his game, more assurance in the final third and he scores goals.”
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While it’s hard to argue with Campbell’s improvement, to compare his recent form to Coquelin’s meteoric rise into the first team is a bit of a stretch. The Frenchman almost instantly became integral to our success, and without him we’ve looked far weaker defensively.
Campbell has obviously chipped in with a few goals and some impressive performances, but to say he’s become central to our success would just be a lie.
That said, we’ve certainly benefited from the work-rate and effort the 23-year-old puts in every game, especially in the absence of Alexis Sanchez. Campbell gives 110% every game, and his constant harassment of the opposition helps us heap the pressure on.
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Once Alexis Sanchez returns Campbell may be forced back onto the bench, but at least he’s shown he can cut it in the first team when necessary. A few months ago it looked as though his Arsenal career was open, and now he’s become a quality squad player. He may not have experienced the same success as Coquelin, but there are certainly similarities.