So it seems Joel Campbell is off to Sporting Lisbon (I am writing this pre-Leicester see by the time it is published on Monday he might have already gone, or the deal might have fallen through. I am bored, at home, waiting to leave to go watch The Arsenal away).
Was Joel Campbell ever given his chance at Arsenal? Or is it simply a case that he was not good enough?
Personally, I think he was never good enough. He scored a cracking goal for Olympiakos against United, and had a decent WC (so did Bryan Ruiz) and suddenly he was the next coming.
For me he was the poster boy of the anti-Wenger’s.
A pawn used in the massive online chess game where people align themselves with an agenda and create a narrative to suit that agenda.
For people who see no good at Arsenal. Who are negative about everything, Joel Campbell was a player who was good enough for Arsenal. He should start every game. He was a superstar in the making. And it is Arsene Wenger’s fault he has not played enough. Arsene Wenger’s fault he has not developed.
Arsene choosing not to play him gave fans a reason to bash Wenger, to hold up a player being unfairly treated, when the reality was he wasn’t good enough.
The main point came at Stoke away a few years back. Someone shouted out “get out whilst you can Joel”. And this launched Campbell as the icon of the anti-Wenger movement (even though that sounds cringey).
I was at Stoke that day, on the platform, waiting to go home from an awful away day where they did not serve beer at half time. It was a torrid performance, and Arsenal players and management got a torrent of abuse as they got onto their privately booked 10 carriage train back to London.
Everyone got abuse, except for Joel Campbell. “Get out whilst you can Joel”.
It kind of shows how fickle fans are. Had he played a lot of football before that game for Arsenal, been given his chance, and in the type of performances he has done in an Arsenal shirt (mainly average ones), those singing his praises would have done a 180.
Those that criticise Wenger for not giving him the chance would have then complained that he was once again playing a cheap foreign import who is clearly not good enough. the narrative would have changed to suit the agenda.
Yes, Joel Campbell worked hard at times. Again, this was put up as a reason why he was a class player. He was praised mainly because he was not Theo Walcott. Walcott often seen as the poster boy of the recent Wenger era. 10 years of disappointment.
Joel Campbell was put on a pedestal for the two reasons:
- Wenger did not rate him
- He was not Theo Walcott
The reality is he was simply not good enough.
Now 24, Joel Campbell had 4 distinctly average loan spells away from the club. Since returning to Arsenal, he has scored 4 goals in 40 games. Last season, Theo Walcott nabbed himself 9 in 42.
So here we have a dreadful player (Walcott) out performing Joel Campbell. Yet people think Joel Campbell is better?
Then go down the pecking the order. Joal Campbell is older than both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry. Both are vastly more talented.
The Ox has not really progressed over recent years due to injury / poor decision making, but I think only an idiot would deny that he is better than Joel Campbell.
Serge Gnabry has had an unlucky 2 years. A poor injury and a poor loan spell at WBA where Tony Pullis just did not want to play him (look at Pullis’ treatment of Berahino and Kenwyne Jones, he does not like flair players).
But Gnabry is still just 21. 3 years younger than Joel Campbell. The performances Gnabry put in in an Arsenal shirt in 2013/14 as an 18 year old were better than anything Joel Campbell has done. He is showing at the Olympics his ability. If it was a choice between the two, Gnabry or Campbell, there is one who I would want to see get game time, Serge Gnabry.
Finally we come to Alex Iwobi.
Just 20, he is 4 years younger than Joel Campbell, and keeping him out the team. He is better than the Costa Rican.
I think if we go back to around 1998 we will discover 2 players who had a similar level of talent and output as Joel Campbell.
All played at Arsenal at a similar age, played in similar positions, had a similar style of play, and had an almost identical output. Christopher Wreh, out of interest, was last seen playing for Bishop’s Stortford in 2004. Just 4 years after leaving The Arsenal.
The fact is, Joel Campbell was not given his chance because he was not good enough.
Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott & Danny Welbeck were/are better options on the wings when it comes to senior players. Ox, Gnabry & Iwobi are better younger players.
I said after the World Cup when rumours of a £20m bid from AC Milan were floating around, we should have taken the money and ran.
So what are your thoughts? Was Joel Campbell not given his chance? Or was he not good enough?
PS: & Theo was shit