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Sunday 11 December 2016

Versatile Campbell eyes leading role

Joel Campbell
Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell is ready to be deployed anywhere in the Arsenal frontline to help the team overcome their injury set-backs and reach the knockout stages of the Champions League again.

Manager Arsene Wenger takes his depleted squad to Athens for tomorrow night's final Group F fixture knowing there is no margin for error if they are to upset the odds and progress with the two-goal victory required to overhaul the Greeks in second place.

Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez will not be available against Olympiacos, with Spanish midfielder Cazorla set for a couple of months of recovery following knee surgery, while Chile forward Sanchez has a hamstring problem, the extent of which has yet to be confirmed.

With Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky also continuing rehabilitation, the return of midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who scored the final goal in the 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Sunderland on Saturday, and Theo Walcott, a second-half substitute, provide welcome support.

Campbell opened the scoring against the Black Cats with a cool finish and the 23-year-old Costa Rica forward is determined to make the most of more opportunities which come his way.

"We have had bad luck with injuries. There have been injuries for players who are very important to us, but we are a big club and we have great players (to cope with the situation). We have to step up and move forward," Campbell said.

"It's not just me, the whole team are leading the way, it's the only way to go. All of the players are giving their best and it's paying off on the field.

"I can play in three positions: left, right and in the middle of the attack. Wherever the boss plays me I try to do my best."

Campbell spent the 2013-2014 season on loan at Olympiacos and knows well what sort of reception awaits at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, where Arsenal have lost in their previous three visits.

"We got the result (against Sunderland) and that's what we wanted, now we have to prepare mentally and physically for Wednesday's game because it will be very difficult," he said.

"We already played against Olympiacos at Emirates Stadium. They are a great team, a great rival and especially because they play at home.

"In the Pireo (Karaiskakis Stadium) it is very difficult to get points, but it is the last game of the group stage and we will give our best. It is the most important game of the season so far. It will be a cup final and we have to win to continue in the Champions League."

After suffering a shock 3-2 home defeat to Olympiacos in September, Arsenal have it all to do to if they are to turn around the group and avoid dropping into the Europa League.

Full-back Hector Bellerin insists the squad will be up to the job this time.

"We have proved already that we are a team who are very dangerous when we have the ball. We need to try to do that at Olympiacos by having possession and creating chances," Bellerin said.

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