Arsene Wenger says he refused to loan out Joel Campbell this season, despite the fact he had players ahead of him for the first team, because he’d seen something in the 23 year old.
Nevertheless, it was his performance against Olympiacos, when he provided a fantastic assist for Olivier Giroud, that really convinced the Arsenal manager the Costa Rican had made genuine strides in his Arsenal career.
The Gunners needed to win that night, and Wenger was pleased to see him perform when the stakes were high.
“I thought always the attitude was there,” he said. “But after Olympiakos, in a game where we were knife on the throat, he turned up with something special.
“Then I thought: ‘He can play under pressure as well, which is important for us’.”
Speaking about his emergence this season, he again likened him to Francis Coquelin in the last campaign – a player who took advantage of an injury crisis to cement a place in the team.
“I flat-refused to let him go because I saw something in him that gives you belief, because of his attitude,” Wenger continued.
“It is true he had players in front of him and you think ‘can you block a player like that?’ He came back and I explained the situation to him.
“I said: ‘Let’s have a go and see where we stand in January’. It’s a bit similar to Coquelin.”
Campbell is likely to start on the right-hand side against Liverpool on Wednesday evening as Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini return to the centre of midfield, meaning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will drop to the bench.