It's now or never for Joel Campbell at Arsenal, says Arsene Wenger
Published 30/10/2015 | 22:41
Arsene Wenger feels it is "now or never" for Joel Campbell to make it at Arsenal.
The 23-year-old Costa Rica forward is set for his first Barclays Premier League start of the season at Swansea on Saturday following injury to England duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
Campbell joined the Gunners in August 2011 from Deportivo Saprissa, but spent campaigns on loan at Lorient and Real Betis as he waited for a work permit, then headed to Olympiacos and last year a spell at Villarreal before returning to London for pre-season.
Gunners boss Wenger resisted the temptation to allow the forward more time away from the Emirates Stadium, but accepts Campbell is entering a crucial stage of his Arsenal career.
"I wanted to keep him here, I felt he has been on loan two or three times and that it is now or never for him with us," said Wenger.
"For him, as well, you belong to a club, you go one time out, two times out then after that you don't know any more if you belong to the club or not."
Wenger has every confidence Campbell - who impressed during Costa Rica's run to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup - possesses the style to deliver something different in the Premier League.
"He has two positions - right side and centre-forward," said Wenger.
"He is a bit of a mixture between Walcott and (Olivier) Giroud. He likes to play with his back to goal like Giroud, but as well is a bit of a dribbler."
Wenger rejected criticism of Arsenal's training methods after the London Colney treatment room became more crowded this week.
"There are plenty of things that you can't master, and as well things (happen) during the game, you cannot plan everything, players have to be robust," said Wenger.
"We sit down together and analyse exactly the workload of the players - in the last six weeks for example we know exactly the percentage of work (Walcott) has done, how much workload, what sort of exercise he has done.
"Every day we know the intensity of his work, how much he has sprinted. We put it all together to see if we made a mistake."
Wenger, though, does not want to suggest his players are injury-prone.
"I don't want to put that label on them," he said.
"It is like in life, why does he catch the flu and him not? You have to accept that medically we are not all even."
Despite Arsenal's selection worries, Wenger will not urge his players to hold back for fear of further injury ahead of what is a crucial run of fixtures - with Bayern Munich away in the Champions League and then hosting the north London derby against Tottenham before the international break.
"Football, and life as well, is to play the next game like it was your last. That is part of the enjoyment," he said.
"You have to be completely in the present and not think about the next games, because who knows what will happen?"