Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell earned just his second start in Arsenal’s last nine matches on Wednesday. The young striker delivered with a sliding goal in the 15th minute of the Gunners’ English Premier League game against Swansea.
Campbell used his blazing speed to make a beautifully timed cut through the middle of Swansea’s defense before receiving a volley pass from Chilean star Alexis Sánchez.
Campbell’s goal is his fourth this season for Arsenal and his first since a Jan. 9 match against Premier League rival Sunderland. He was on the bench, but did not play in Arsenal’s last two matches against highly regarded clubs Manchester United and FC Barcelona.
The latest goal may give manager Arsene Wenger renewed confidence in the 23-year-old Campbell going forward. After a great start to the season where he made believers of the long line of doubters at Arsenal, Campbell was again relegated to the bench once the club’s injury issues cleared up.
On Wednesday, alongside the team’s biggest stars like Sánchez and Mesut Özil, the Costa Rican national fit in fluidly with the starting lineup.
Despite Campbell’s great performance in which he was Arsenal’s catalyst for much of the game, Wenger substituted him out of the game in the 64th minute. Arsenal ended up losing the match 2-1 to Swansea, one of the league’s worst teams.
.@joel_campbell12 has been at the heart of the action for @Arsenal so far. Here's his first-half heatmap #AFCvSCFC pic.twitter.com/ehbCvlnI4w
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 2, 2016
Real Madrid’s MVP?
It’s been a frustrating season for Real Madrid, where there are expectations for Spanish La Liga and European Champion’s League every year. Though Los Merengues are still in contention for a Champion’s League title — thanks in large part to Keylor Navas’ historic shutout streak — a Spanish league title looks impossible as the team remains behind Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in the rankings.
But that’s no fault of Navas, who continued his spectacular play on Wednesday with a gorgeous save against his former team Levante. At the Ciutat de València Stadium where his old fans gave him a standing ovation before the game, Navas saved Madrid from a disastrous start in the fourth minute when Levante’s Giuseppe Rossi had an open crack at the goal.
In the 82nd minute, with Real Madrid hanging onto a 2-1 advantage, “San Keylor” saved a possible tie when he dove to the right side of the post to block a would-be goal. Real eventually hung on to win 3-1 and secure its hold on third place in La Liga.
Navas has arguably been the team’s most valuable asset this year, often bailing the team out right as disaster is about to strike. The ineffective defense, which consists of the aging Pepe and Sergio Ramos, has been porous all season.
Following Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Atlético Madrid, Ronaldo came under criticism for telling reporters that the team would be sitting at first place in La Liga if everyone was playing more like he was.
“If everyone was at my level, maybe we’d be leaders,” he was quoted as saying.
In that case, maybe if everyone was playing at Navas’ level, Real Madrid would be undefeated.