So what can we make of Joel Campbell based on his world cup appearances?

By Walter Broeckx

If ever there is one Arsenal player and one team that we didn’t expect to find in the World Cup quarter finals, bribed by Fufa, oops sorry should have been organised by Fifa,  it is Costa Rica and Joel Campbell.

Los Ticos as their nickname is were in the group of England, Italy and Uruguay. All former world cup winners. And before a match was played they were seen as the ideal team to score many goals in case it would come down to goal difference to qualify. I think anyone who put money on Costa Rica to be top of that group will have made a nice profit.

And to be honest things didn’t look great in the first match against Uruguay until Campbell scored the equaliser for Costa Rica. But from that moment the self belief took over and they surprised the whole world.

Joel Campbell was a handful in each and every match and showed that he can lead the line. What I have learned is that Campbell is a fast striker and one that will fight for the ball and is not that easily intimidated by defenders.

But what can we learn from his performances and what can we expect of him at Arsenal?

And then the answer is…nothing.

Now I must admit that I haven’t seen the other matches of Costa Rica in this world cup but if I can believe reporters (which is always tricky of course) and can believe pundits in Belgium (which is less tricky) Costa Rica doesn’t like to have the ball that much. They play the game from a good and strong defensive organisation and then try to hit the opponents on the counter attack. Now I must admit that is not really my cup of tea.

And this is the reason why I don’t know how Campbell will fare at Arsenal. Because Arsenal play the possession game. We try to keep the ball ourselves as much as possible and by quick combination and a high speed in ball circulation we try to score goals.

We probably would feel very frustrated if we played Costa Rica and couldn’t break down their defence. And I have noticed they have an excellent ‘short’ goalkeeper in Costa Rica.  A goalkeeper only 1,84 meter small. Ok I admit for me he is big but compare this with the regular height of most goalkeepers and this is really short. But what a keeper he is.

So we do know that Campbell is excellent even against top players from Italy and Uruguay. Two teams famous for their defenders and defensive style. Campbell made those defenders sweat and was a bit unlucky not to score a few more goals with a few dangerous distance shots that just missed the target.

So Campbell is not afraid to shoot from distance. Something that will make some supporters happy. But theoretically the chance of scoring with long distance shots is much much lower than scoring with shots from within the penalty area. But Campbell seems to have a good distance shot in him.

But when it comes to keeping the ball alive and quick passing and movement we cannot really know what to expect. Because he mostly played on an island up front. And at Arsenal he will not play on an island but will be surrounded by a Costa Rican style of defence and also with lots of Arsenal players who will be willing to play one touch football.

And to be honest I don’t know how he will fit in to such a system because I have never seen him play in that system.  As the Greek club we loaned him too has been champions of Greece for as long as we can remember or thereabouts we could expect that they are a somewhat dominating team in Greece and will have a lot of the ball. Or do all teams in Greece play like the national team? Because if they do we still don’t know how he would play in a team that wants to keep the ball.

Now I have never watched Greek football unless it was when Arsenal played them or when they played against Manchester United last champions league as I was watching Campbell when he played on the right hand side of attack.  But I have learned not to get carried away based on one match. (Of course I get carried away sometimes but I try to avoid it).

So if there is anyone out there who follows Greek football and has seen Campbell play, step forward, use those fingers and tell us all about him.

I think, and this is based on the few things I have seen from him, that in fact he is not that suited to play the role he plays for Costa Rica. I think he needs more people around him to make good use of his pace and being no pushover despite him not being an imposing physical appearance.  1,78 meter for a striker is not that impressive. He is no Giroud type of striker and I think that is good news. As we already have Giroud and if anything we could do with a striker playing off Giroud.

His stats for last season weren’t that bad in fact. He started 25 matches and scored 8 goals but also had 10 assists. And I always like a striker that also has a nice number of assists behind his name. It usually shows that he is also a team player and can link up with his team mates.

But for now, unless someone with great knowledge of the Greek league comes up and tells me to get excited, I will wait for pre-season (if he gets there in time…) and wait with big hopes and anticipation on how he will perform when being an Arsenal player and playing in a different system than he is used in Costa Rica.  But one thing will be for sure for him: it is make or break in the next season for him at Arsenal. So I am keeping my fingers crossed it will be the make possibility for him.

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18 Replies to “So what can we make of Joel Campbell based on his world cup appearances?”

  1. he was totally knackered by the end of last night’s game Walter but still brave enough to take (and score) a penalty. The lad has determination and skill and (as he showed in the first half) a good turn of pace. He needs to get his head up and his decision making is suspect at times, but then he’s only 21. He’s not the solution to the striking issue but he could be part of the solution

  2. Already he is a better alround player than Podolski and Bentner. Even after 90 minutes of isolated running he came back to defend well. I believe that he and Sanogo could be the future for AFC….Sanogo was never praised for the total change he made upfront when brought on as a sub. At 21 both are real talents and deserve a praise. As for the pundits on TV, I don’t remember any of them being great at 21 and I certainly don’t remember them still running after 120 minutes.

  3. Can`t go backwards, but how I wish Arsene could have had him for the past three years. His close control does seem OK and he can play the quick ball but as you say he doesn`t play in a team that plays keep ball. Hopefully, he can learn. His movement off the ball seems OK
    As a bench player coming on later with his pace he could be interesting. He is still young enough to learn AND be a current benefit to us.
    Written in hope

  4. would like to see JC given his chance with us, but do wonder what his future holds, especially if we do sign a top forward.
    On the subject of Greek football, anyone else glad we did not sign their forward last winter…..dodging a bullet that ultimately had Fulhams name on it

  5. At Campbell’s next game the sniper will have Robben in his scope again. I just hope hope Joel is not the unfortunate guy who is within a yard of him when the shot is taken.

    He has had a good World Cup but mus go on loan to another Premiership club as is the norm to show his worth over a season (properly). We need players who are the finished product at our level especially now we have the monetary resources. Campbell is too old to be ‘developing’ and it’s now time to deliver and prove he is ready … at the expense of a non-rival in the Premiership who will be happy to use him for this purpose and risk dropping points.

  6. @GunnerPete,
    Agree entirely with your view of Sanogo and Campbell. I only hope that both will remain at the Emirates next season rather than be farmed out on loan. In that way, both will receive the closest attention in training in the Arsenal way of playing.

  7. I saw a bit of him in pre season last year and was excited when I heard he got his work permit thinking he would of stayed in the prem last season. To be honest don’t think he will play up front as only really played up top for his country generally played wide on loan but could be a way to free up Theo to play up top or an option to play ahead of Giroud and get the flick on’s knock down etc but feel he is more ready than Sanogo or even Gnabry but not the well bred superstar striker we need as a Giroud alternative or competitor but a great option, however other than Balotelli who is available and he makes me worry if he will take us back to days of frequent red cards and playing with 10 men.

  8. Wallter
    if you’re judging on last night, then that’s a bad place to start as it was his least effective game so far. This is probably due to him playing against Olympiacos team mates who knew how to shut him down. I was a bit surprised that he became so tired as he was hardly involved in play and his movement was limited by the Greek defence. They just closed him out, which is worth noting.
    In the other group games he was much more involved in play with one & two touch passing excellent positioning, finding space and sometime taking defenders on and even beating them with he ball.
    I could compare him to Gnarbry, but he has a lot more top level experience and as Arsene says. let’s see how his pre season goes.
    We still need another striker even if he does join the squad.

  9. Of course we do still have at least one more opportunity to appraise him on Saturday when he comes up against Nigel de Jong & the rest of the Dutch defence. That really will be a test he would do well to pass.

  10. Joel Campbell has put a bit of weight on since we bought him. He was an incredibly quick attacking player. He is very skillful and can dribble and take on opponents. He appears to be a lot stronger now than when we first bought him. He will make an excellent foil for Giroud and will work well with our midfield. He has good kicking technique (brought up playing bare foot). I observed his corner kicking (on TV) and his understanding of pace & trajectory on a dead ball seems good. He has a good center of gravity and is not pushed off the ball easily.

    Wenger knows he has a rough diamond that will make a good team better.

    I have to comment on Robben the cheat. He has admitted diving – not surprising – as Wenger had already stated that he dives despite being a quality player. It is time for the authorities to review his behaviour and make an example. Bonzer should have company (perhaps someone to take him walkies!!).

  11. Before this world cup, I had seen Campbell play live for Costa Rica against Spain(when he scored), and against Wales(when he also scored).

    I had also seen him play live against Man Utd (when he scored)in the Champions league for his Greek loan club.

    I’d also seen the various You Tube clips of him in action, for what they are worth.

    I’ve now seen all of his 2014 world cup games so far, and believe he’s put in a solid shift for Costa Rica in all of them.

    Prior to watching him at the world cup, I had gotten the impresson that Campbell was a versatile forward with good technical ability, who had pace and knew where the goal was.

    Now, having seen him perform in Brazil, I think that there’s a creative passing side to his game as well, in addition to good link up play in the centre of the pitch.

    I think Campbell can both create and score goals.

    In other words, apart from being able to play in any of the forward positions, Campbell could probably play as a number 10 as well, that is, in the right formation, and with the right players around and in front of him.

    He could definitely thrive at Arsenal if given a proper opportunity, both to play and to show the full range of what he can do.

    Arsene said at the end of last season that we need to score more goals.

    I think that Campbell can contribute to the team scoring more goals, both directly, and indirectly, through assists.

    As he is already on our payroll, his being given an opportunity to play need not be at the expense of signing another goal scorer & provider.

  12. Nobody here has askerd the right questions:

    1) What position for him would be truly ideal in an Arsenal team with such a strong midfield?

    2) With service from Ozil,Wilshere, Ramsey and company, what could he be expected to do?

    3) With Giroud, Walcott,Podolski and Cazorla helping him out, what can we expect?

    He is not playing in a vacuum, he is playing with the AFC approach and that can make any player look good or bad, depending on his ability to adapt. Campbell has that ability and will…he just needs to mature and get better disciupline…something Wenger is great at developing.

  13. omgarsenal
    With respect (and I’m not trying to be confrontational) wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that nobody is asking the questions that you’re asking?
    Whether they’re the right ones is a matter of opinion.
    I’d say that menace and in particular Magneto have “asked” the most of the right questions.

  14. The boy is quick, skilful and direct. I’ve watched all three matches and he’s given solid performances. Yesterday might have been his least effective one but that was only because the Greeks congested the middle that he’d was left isolated upfront with no service. The Costa Rican players were just making square passes at the back and only resorted to long balls which the Greek defenders quickly dealt with. Just when the match appeared to be opening up after the Greeks fell behind Costa Rica were reduced to 10 men so he never really got a chance.

    Robben is a scumbag, and can’t wait for the Dutch to go home. Just wish the media would put more spotlight on robben’s antics, but afraid with this van gal love-in it’ll just get a token mention at best. I don’t think it’d have been the same if it were a french player admitting to diving.

  15. H Bo
    I’m afraid with Balotelli featuring for Arsenal we would go back to playing with 10 men most games. Just listening to itv commentary, they haven’t had anything nice to say about Ozil, despite him working harder than I’ve ever seen him. Makes you think if they can do this to a saint like Ozil, what more about Balotelli.

  16. Magneto has an impressive analysis. I admit I have not seen him outside the World Cup, bar one youtube compilation of his time at Olympiakos that did not showcase his international goals (which surely bolster his reputation).
    The best part of Magnetos analysis must be his mention of the creative side of Campbell’s game. His vision is fantastic and his ability to beat individual defenders, and even entire midfields is the best I have seen since Fabtega. With Campbell’s shot though, he’s very much a forward, but one that can unlock defenses. His valuable unpredictability excels here, and unlike Gervinho, he has an intelligent maturity to him I really rate him, but we all know he s not completely proven. Would love him in the first team next year.

  17. Walter , before the WC began , I picked Costa Rica to be the dark horses .I felt that they would do better than England , much to the chagrin of my son .
    Not being a betting man , sadly I did not profit !
    Am hoping though that he starts his journey to superstardom and Arsenal legend by wiping the floor with those cheating Dutch and that traitor RVP !
    Go Joel ! GO COSTA RICA !

  18. for me i see jc as walcots sub,thats where he played against manure,with his ability to drift in and thunderous shot,i pity the goalies

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