Campbell vs Walcott: Who makes way for Alexis?

walcott campbell

Following the disappointment that was Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, it’s almost second nature for a fan to re-analyse the game in hope of picking out positives. No moment was as flagrantly encouraging as the introduction of Alexis Sanchez minutes shy of the hour mark, someone who, despite demonstrating a degree of rustiness, provided us all with an ounce of optimism in registering a result against the Blues and aided Arsenal’s numerical disadvantage.

Evidently, a specific amount of TLC will have to be given to Sanchez after his one month lay-off. Additionally, we’ll also have to allow him time to blow off his cobwebs and regain the form of his relentless self. But given the fact that Sanchez is a total nature freak with an unmeasurable amount of desire, and we hope his time on the sidelines has also rejuvenated his state, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanchez was reinstated fully into Arsenal’s first team come next Tuesday, when we host Southampton for the Barclays Premier League. Should Arsène Wenger cave in to the temptation of playing Alexis, who is it that makes way for the Chilean?

 

Joel Campbell

joel goal rainMany had doubts over Joel Campbell’s future as an Arsenal player and many still do. What’s undeniable is that he’s made good use of Sanchez’s injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s poor form to at least pose to question over his significance to the squad. Should Chamberlain and Theo Walcott’s below par performances continue, the Costa Rican may have even longer to win us all over, given that the likes of Danny Welbeck and Tomáš Rosický are all still a few weeks away from full fitness and others such as Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, out for longer, should be reintroduced with greater caution.

As it stands, Campbell is our most in-form wide man, which perhaps says more about his teammates’ form rather than his own. But there is a particular attribute he should be highly commended for and that’s his hunger to succeed. As mentioned before, Campbell would have probably been on most people’s ‘To go’ list back in the summer, so he’s had to work hard for those opinions on him to change.

With that, Campbell has succeeded, so much so that he’s kept Oxlade-Chamberlain rooted to the substitute’s bench who many tipped to be a shining light in Arsenal’s season. But beyond his hunger to succeed, particular characteristics in Campbell’s play also indicate he’s the man Arsene should stick by in the coming weeks. Perhaps one of his most surprising traits is his ability to create as an inside forward. Theo Walcott remaining composed to thread through a pass sounds like something off a fairy tale to me, but it’s something Campbell is well capable of. That ability was evident in his assist for Olivier Giroud against Olympiakos. To add to that, Campbell may even be a better finisher than Walcott, but his good form alone could be enough to seize his slot in the first team.

 

Theo Walcott

theo badgeIt has been a strange year for Theo Walcott after injuries kept him out for far too long since 2014. One moment we’re left questioning whether he’s still compatible with Wenger’s current crop, the next we’re left enthused by breath-taking goals and performances, such as his latest strike at home to Manchester City or the show he put on in Arsenal’s comprehensive 4-1 win against West Bromwich Albion towards the conclusion of the 2014/2015 season.

At this moment in time, we’re all wondering what Walcott’s use is once again, even after 10 years of representing Arsenal. Thus far, Walcott has notched five goals in 19 appearances for the Gunners this season, scoring just once in his last 14 outings with no assists. Walcott’s form hasn’t been acceptable, and it’s no wonder his name was often mentioned as the preferred option to be substituted by Gabriel Paulista following Per Mertesacker’s red card against Chelsea.

However, although there are plenty of arguments both for and against Wenger’s choice of replacing Giroud instead, we must not lose sight of the very fact the Frenchman chose to keep Walcott on the pitch. Regardless of his form, Walcott stands as a potent and unique tool for Arsenal. Very few players in the world can be as unpredictable as the 26-year-old or even possess the same amount of blistering pace. It seemed obvious to me that Wenger had hoped, being down to 10 men, Walcott’s unrivalled acceleration could make the difference up against Branislav Ivanovic, or even centrally past the ageing John Terry, meanwhile maintaining the volume in midfield and sacrificing Giroud.

Wenger gambled on a moment of magic from Walcott as an outlet and you couldn’t blame him for it, as he’s done so before. It’s this very trait that should undoubtedly give Wenger long hours of thinking time, despite dissimilar levels of form between Campbell and Walcott. It’s very hard to discard Walcott as an option, and the fact Sanchez’s return means Arsenal’s number 14 can finally revert to his favoured right-wing or centre forward role will only strengthen his cause.

 

Conclusion

If we’re to impose the infamous phrase of “you’re only as good as your last game” upon our decision-making, Wenger’s choice should be fairly straight-forward. Despite both Walcott and Campbell underperforming on Sunday, the latter has certainly excelled far more in Arsenal’s squad. But there are other factors that come into play, in particular a return to right-wing for Walcott that would not only provide him the platform to perform better in familiar circumstances, it will also add balance to our attack and distance ourselves from the predictability that comes with utilising two inverted wingers. Wenger has another dilemma on his hands.

 

 

2 Responses to “Campbell vs Walcott: Who makes way for Alexis?

  • Campbell over Walcott, Walcott continues to regress. He cannot pass, cannot cross, cannot create, cannot dribble. He is basically dead weight just making the numbers. Campbell has shown great work rate and creativity should start ahead of Walcott all day.

  • Mário Quintas
    1 year ago

    At the moment, i rather keep Campbell on the starting team. Or would start to use Walcott as a cf and keept Giroud on the bench for a couple of games again. Using him as a super sub again. Just for a couple of weeks at leats.
    Campbell isn’t an amazing player but i like a lot what he offer to us, both individually and collectivilly, Joel Campbell has deserved his place on the starting team.

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