Arsenal fans must have faith that Joe Willock will become a midfield monster

Joe Willock Will Come Good

Many people undersell Joe Willock. They complain about his lack of technique, initiative with the ball and average mentality on the pitch. To them Joe Willock is not exceptional and never will be. He should have been sent out on loan and sold as soon as his market value gets high enough.

Unfortunately, the age of polished young talents like Foden, Saka, Arnold etc and Football Manager has spoiled people’s perception of how young footballers develop. Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Danny Ings, Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Dmitry Payet, Kovavic are all examples of late bloomers. All of them showed some promise at a young age but were not exceptional until they reached a level where they got to play regular football. Even some of the older youngsters like Tammy Abraham, Emile Smith-Rowe, Tariq Lamptey, Martin Odeegard were not teenage superstars like Bukayo Saka. They just were not as polished and needed some patience and regular football to calibrate themselves to adult football. Even Kevin De Bruyne had to spend some time at Wolfsburg. Mesut Ozil played for Werder Bremen. Serge Gnabry needed regular football in a mid Bundesliga side.

Not everyone is born accomplished. Some players simply need adjustment to senior football. The question however is if they have some outstanding attributes to them, some quality that, when polished up, might make them good footballers.

Arsenal’s English midfielder Joe Willock (R) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Arsenal’s Spanish defender Pablo Mari during the UEFA Europa League 1st round Group B football match between Dundalk and Arsenal . (Photo by Paul Faith / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)

This is where Joe Willock can be properly appraised. Willock is an outstanding physical specimen. As a teenager, he could power through adults in midfield with the ball without breaking his stride. That quality alone ensures he is likely to become a mobile juggernaut physically. Someone who can dominate his opponents at ease. Ordinarily, this trait makes it easier for him to find senior football easy. Where the likes of Foden and Saka are dynamic carriers with great technique and can change direction rapidly whilst folding their bodies, Joe Willock simply bounces through challenges like a horse. He can’t be shoved, pushed, pull or clattered into easily. If he can add more range and technique to his carries, you are looking at an elite powerhouse midfielder. A Yaya Toure at carrying the ball.

This is not only Willock’s outstanding quality. The young Englishman also has elite off-the-ball movements and third-man runs, you know, the things Frank Lampard was renowned for, that we loved in Aaron Ramsey and that is winning Gundongan plaudits this season. This is a trait belonging to only the best of midfielders who have the game sense and ability to time their runs into the box at exactly the right time.

This is why Joe Willock always scores and why he will always score in his career. It does not matter what level it is: third-man runs are impossible to defend against and Joe Willock is going to be elite at it.

This is what every coach in the Arsenal academy sees when they see Joe Willock. He is basically another raw Aaron Ramsey. This is why Arteta, Ljunberg and Emery rate him so high. If other aspects of his midfield play can be improved (technique, passing, discipline, positioning) and his footballing nous developed, we may have an unstoppable midfield monster on our hands.

Still only 21 and already obvious that he’s an athletic goalscoring midfielder from open play, it would be criminal for anybody at Arsenal to write him off before he is 23. If it will take two more seasons of loans for him to improve his general midfield play, so be it. His assets are too good to be impatient about. Us fans will bemoan it if we let him go for cheap and he starts getting 10 Premier League goals a season regularly. He is one of ours and we must believe that he will come good.

Agboola Israel

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  1. Until Joe has his back covered by a top notch CDM (which Granit Xhaka isn’t) he will flounder at AFC. Had a good debut with the Magpies, but sad top say after that debut, the lad should have his head over his shoulders and stay focused rather than passing remarks,etc. I rate Joe much higher than the rotten stinking attitude of Guendozi. If properly trained and groomed for midfield role , he could compete with Partey. Much better than Elneny will ever be or even Cabellos.

  2. Have we both been watching the same Joe Willock PAL?”An outstanding physical specimen”?” Powered through Adults in midfield with the ball without breaking stride”? “Bounces through challenges like a horse”? You see shades of Lampard Yaya Toure, Ramsey and Gundagon in Willock?
    “Joe Willock ALWAYS scores”. Listen to me PAL. NO HE DOES NOT. If he did he would not have been sent out to a second rate Premiere League Club and AFC would be top of the league.
    “His third man runs are impossible to defend against”.NO THEY ARE NOT.
    “We could have an unstoppable midfield monster on our hands”. NO WE WILL NOT. Willock wil not be at the Club next season.
    PAL. Do yourself a favour. Turn the Sky control over to watch the Test Match in India. I think it’s a sport you may get to understand as you certainly have no clue whatsoever about football.

    1. Laughing my head off, sorry dear AI, writing is your stuff not scouting. Players weren’t bouncing off muscular joe, he and nketia were dragging arsenal down the table with the games they were given until he was benched. Have you seen ESR ( even though he too needs lots of stepping up) play in the same position?. Sorry Joe doesn’t belong to this level

    2. Is everyone you answer your PAL? You always, and I presume deliberately, use that PAL in such a threatening way. Am I correct and if not, why do you constantly use it in such a hostile way. It is as if you wish to come over as a bully boy. Sort of don’t mess with hard as nails Phil, or else!

      1. Willock is not a monster, agreed but he could be. since I have been watching him I have never seen him out of breath, he has an insane amount of stamina and upper body strength. And he scores a lot . But I guess you guys don’t like him. He plays a lot like ramsey doing unnecessary tricks that usually leads to loss of possession . He needs to up his passing .

          1. Don’t pretend that you know what others think of you! You are no judge of anyone. Some are simply too timid to come back at you NONPAL. As you can see, I am not.

      2. The day I need to answer to you PAL is the day I will most likely walk away from this site.
        Have you actually ever read what you wrote when replying to someone? Obviously you have history of conveniently changing your mind when it suits you, but even then you get found out and embarrassed. That and the fact you mostly are completely unable to answer quite simple questions when your outdated and prehistoric views are called out.
        You just worry about yourself PAL and not me. And you will do remember this site isn’t yours, no matter how much you like to believe it is

  3. Couldn’t agree more Phil, he must have done all these amazing things in the youth league but what I saw under four managers has been pretty disappointing. Can’t be all their fault.

  4. At least Willock will get a chance now to show his talent. Good luck to him and lets hope another manager can guide him to show the ability he obviously has, any fool can see that. Its just a case of him being trusted and see how far he can go.

  5. Agboola I would praise this well argued article, IF ONLY I were able to agree with ANY of its main points But I cannot agree that Willock is anywhere near the player that you – seemingly in a minority on here – are trying to paint him to be.

    As for “bounces through challenges”, are you sure you are not mixing him up with Traore of Wolves. This skinny kid is not a toughie, thats for sure!
    I can agree that some players develop later than others and so would not entirely write him off just yet. But I suspect your own confidence in him becoming a top player will be shared by VERY FEW OTHERS. Myself included!

  6. Elite off the ball movements you say?
    I agree he desperately needs to “improve his technique, passing, discipline, and positioning.”

    Perhaps he will be great, perhaps he will be a dud. Let him go on loan until he figures it out.

    Think Azeez more likely to make it with us than Willock.

  7. It feels like we’re watching two different Joe Willock’s. The Joe Willock I’ve seen so far possesses none of the qualities you mentioned in your article.

  8. Im sorry but this is hilarious , Even willocks mothers wont write such a bias article.
    BE honest with yourself . Willock is not as good as Dan Crowley and he didnt make the cut. Is Willock as good as Miguel Azeez the answer a resounding no , With AMN ,Nelson you can see the talent, with Willock you cannot . If Willock is a midfielder what is within his skillset . He cant pass , he cant shoot , HE cant control the tempo of a game ,he certainly doesnt have the frame to defend . So please to compare Willock and Ramsey is insulting let alone Gundogan etc.

  9. I would take a slightly softer view then most of these responses, Agboola. I see where you’re coming from, but I think you’re looking hopefully at what Willock might become rather than what he is now.
    Very few adult players “bounce” off JW, but he has a good frame and if he built on that, with the way he plays, I could see him maybe developing into something like a Yaya Toure (but that is a big maybe). At the moment he’s not an exceptional dribbler, but does have a surprising ability to catch opponents out and take them out of the game with the drop of the shoulder. It’s not really physical strength, though, just clever timing (Nketiah does the same thing on occasion). At the moment I can’t tell if that’s something that will develop into a powerful weapon he can use regularly, or if it’s a trick he will get away with on occasion.
    I dont agree his late runs into the box show “elite”, unstoppable movement, but he certainly has an ability to ghost into goalscoring positions and I agree, he’s a player that can and probably will score a decent number of goals at PL level in the future.
    In summary, I think the article overstates what JW has shown so far, but the point that it’s too early to write him off is certainly a fair one.

  10. Joe Willock is simply too lazy a football player. He spectates way too much, does little to no defensive work and is always giving the ball away. He needs to be sold in the summer.

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