Arsene Wenger has hailed Joel Campbell for his performance against Sunderland in the third round of the FA Cup on 9 January and believes that his rise from obscurity is reminiscent of Francis Coquelin's emergence last season, when the midfielder came back from his loan spell at Charlton Athletic to reserve a place in the starting eleven. The Costa Rica international scored the equaliser and played a vital part in creating the second to progress into the fourth round of the tournament.
Campbell was signed by Arsenal in 2011, but spent the next four years on loan at Lorient, Betis, Olympiacos and Villarreal before being handed an opportunity at the Emirates. An injury crisis at the north London club forced Arsene Wenger's hand in this department, with the player used on the right wing to compensate for the loss of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott late in October.
The injuries kept mounting, with Alexis Sanchez the next victim of yet another hamstring injury but this played into the hands of Campbell, who used the extended run of games to prove his worth and establish himself as an indispensable part of the team. The South American forward is likely to be given a starting berth against Liverpool at Anfield, with Alexis needing another week to return to full fitness.
"He is kind of in Coquelin's position last year," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "Nobody expected him [to do well] and now he is taking his place in the team and he is ready to fight for the position and he is efficient.
"I agree [that he is playing with confidence]. That comes out of his game. Compare one month ago to today, he believes he belongs there and has a right to play."
The manager will be buoyed by the Gunners' ability to come back from a setback against Sunderland, having made five changes from the side that won against Newcastle United in the league last weekend. However, their title credentials will be heavily tested in the next three games, where they travel to Stoke City and Liverpool, before taking on Chelsea at the Emirates.