For the third successive Premier League fixture, Joel Campbell was starting. This may not seem particularly significant, but considering how he was seemingly destined for the exit door, it just proves he’s taken his opportunity when it eventually arrived.
He’s had to wait patiently with work permit issues, loan spells elsewhere and this summer, plenty of European clubs were interested in his signature.
From his performance against the title favourites, it’s not hard to see why.
A point to prove
After his display against Swansea, plenty of fans were optimistic that he’d be a short-term fix for a long-term solution at the club. There are plenty of other players capable of playing on the wing, or a more advanced role. The majority of which are either injured or being deployed elsewhere.
But having watched his 70 minute performance against Manuel Pellegrini’s men, it’s becoming apparent he wants to prove he can compete with them for a regular starting berth.
From the offset, he was full of energy and enthusiasm. Eager in the challenge and occasionally overzealous with the ball at his feet, it meant Fernandinho was able to sweep up loose balls and recycle possession in midfield. Despite this, what Campbell did excellently was offer Hector Bellerín defensive support on the right-hand side with his tireless workrate and the level of pressure he put on the visitors off the ball.
This forced them into infrequent mistakes, one of which was exploited in style by Olivier Giroud as he scored Arsenal’s second goal of the evening.
It was his quick feet and unpredictable movement in the build-up, which culminated with the lead being doubled. Initially holding up play, he weaved past Fabian Delph, before being lazily bodychecked by the imposing frame of Yaya Touré.
The Costa Rican was constantly a handful for Aleksandar Kolarov, not least because of his pace, but also his positioning and how tough he was to man mark. One second, he’s there alongside you. The next, he’s off on a marauding run in the final third leaving you in his wake.
He was inches away from making it 3-0 after latching onto Nacho Monreal’s delivery in the area – but lacked the composure to guide it past Joe Hart, instead firing over the crossbar.
Then minutes later, he got past Kolarov again with ease. His effort from close-range lacked elevation, otherwise he’d have been wheeling away in celebration.
Unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet, the plaudits were deservedly stolen by Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott. Despite this, Campbell’s individual display will certainly give him confidence to replicate consistency as his extended run in the side continues to bear fruit.