Building an Arsenal XI to Include Olympiakos Champions League Hero Joel Campbell

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Building an Arsenal XI to Include Olympiakos Champions League Hero Joel Campbell
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Having watched his goalscoring exploits against Manchester United with interest, Arsenal fans are now wondering how Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell could fit into Arsene Wenger’s team.

Some fans might be forgiven for wondering why a talented striker is out on loan at a time when Arsenal lack attacking options. In the first two years of Campbell’s Arsenal career, he was sent to clubs on a short-term deal as a matter of necessity. His lack of international caps meant that he did not qualify for the work permit required to make him eligible for Premier League action.

This summer, that changed. Campbell was granted permission to play in England. However, Wenger still decided to send him away. Campbell joined Greek team Olympiacos, and many fans wondered if they’d ever hear much of him again.

Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

Well, they certainly have now. Campbell’s talent has begun to flourish in Greece, and his performance against United will certainly have caught Arsene Wenger’s eye. Wenger may now find himself wondering just how he could make use of Campbell in the Arsenal squad next season.

The most obvious solution is as a central striker. In recent games against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, Wenger found himself in the unenviable position of having to use the almost entirely untested Yaya Sanogo as his centre-forward. Although Campbell is the same age as Sanogo, his wealth of experience makes him a relative veteran. The Costa Rican already has 30 international caps under his belt.

However, one of Campbell’s greatest assets is his versatility. Although he began his career as a centre-forward, and still occasionally plays there for Costa Rica, much of his club football has been played on the right wing.

Graphic via WhoScored.com

Campbell is very quick over the first ten yards, allowing him to terrorise most full-backs. He has the skill and confidence to beat his man, and crucially has a wonderful left-foot. Playing on the right allows him to cut in and strike at goal, much as he did against Manchester United.

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Arsenal fans could be forgiven for wishing they had Campbell at the Emirates right now. With Theo Walcott out for the remainder of the season, he could have helped replace that speed and goal-threat on the right-hand side.

If Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry fulfill Arsene Wenger’s prediction and develop into central midfield players, an opportunity could appear for Campbell on the flanks. He certainly seems more suited to the Premier League than Ryo Miyaichi, who has failed to make the anticipated impact in English football.

He would give the likes of Mesut Ozil an option when looking to play incisive through passes and could feed off the hold-up play of Olivier Giroud.

A young player like Campbell comes with few guarantees. However, his impressive performances in the Greek Super League suggest he certainly deserves his chance.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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