Once buried on a roster full of established talents, young Joel Campbell has finally proved his worth in the starting lineup for famed English club Arsenal.
Just four days after scoring a goal in the FA Cup, Campbell again shined in a 3-3 tie with English Premiere League rival Liverpool on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Costa Rican forward had one assist and helped create another score in a match that was competitive until the end.
After Liverpool had taken an early 1-0 lead, Arsenal tied things up when Campbell corralled possession of the ball in Liverpool territory before turning around in rhythm and threading a beautiful ball to teammate Aaron Ramsey.
The Costa Rican national then came right back in the 55th minute to create another score for Arsenal, who was stuck with a 2-2 tie at halftime. But without wavering, Campbell pushed the ball towards Oliver Giroud, who took in the deflected pass and put home his second goal of the match.
The Gunners conceded a heartbreaking goal in the 90th minute to allow Liverpool to escape without a loss, but Arsenal remains in first place of the English Premiere League standings with 43 points and a 13-4-4 record. Recently, Campbell has been a large component of Arsenal’s success. Even though the team has suffered critical injuries, most notably to Chilean star Alexis Sánchez, it’s been the Costa Rican striker who has stepped up.
After the match, fans and reporters praised on social media Campbell’s effort.
He very rarely plays 90 minutes but Joel Campbell was excellent tonight. Not for the first time recently.
— James Olley (@JamesOlley) January 13, 2016
Guys. Joel Campbell is sensational. I can't believe what I'm writing.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) January 13, 2016
Not long ago, Campbell was stuck in manager Arsene Wenger’s dog house, as the French coach let the public know he often wanted more out of the young forward. Campbell, who has been put on loan four times in his five years with the English club, is finally carving out his space for Arsenal, and getting the respect of his coach in the process.
“Nobody expected him [to do well] and now he is taking his place in the team and he is ready to fight for the position and he is efficient,” Wenger told the team’s official site. “I agree [that he is playing with confidence]. That comes out of his game. Compare one month ago to today, he believes he belongs there and has a right to play.”
Arsenal is now expected to re-sign Campbell to a boosted contract, although anything could happen between now and the transfer window’s closing on Jan. 31. A breakout 2015-2016 season, in which Campbell has scored his first three goals in an Arsenal uniform, has his fans and coaches in awe of his work effort and natural chemistry with teammates.
“You want to be surprised by the quality of your players and where he surprises you is in the intensity of his teamwork,” Wenger recently told reporters of his budding young star.