Since his debut under Arsene Wenger, Joe Willock has proven to be a squad preference for three different managers — much to the dismay of a certain segment of Arsenal fans.
These supporters do not see what is so special about the last of the Willock brothers. At best, in their opinion, Joe Willock is no more than an energy injection, a running and pressing monster that is unable to influence a game with the ball at his feet.
So why do the gaffers love Good Ol’ Joe? Here are the reasons:
Joe Willock has no issues with working his socks off on the field. And that translates to the training ground, where no complaint has ever been raised about his commitment. In some quarters, the opinion is that Joe Willock is one of these players who always do well in training but lack the capacity to translate it into games. That actually leads us to the next good thing about Joe Willock.
To be able to pick the ball from the edge of your penalty box and drive forward with it into the opponent’s half of the field while shrugging off challenges is a very special trait to have in a player, especially a midfielder. This was part of Aaron Ramsey’s skillset and Joe Willock is arguably better at it already.
Since his days in academy football, the 21-year-old has shown off his propensity to receive the ball and single-handedly break through defensive lines by running straight through them. With his deceptively lanky build and upper body strength, the Hale End graduate has shown flashes of the same ability in senior football.
One of Willock’s biggest selling point is how he invariably almost always gets into the goal-scoring end of things. He has that whiff of a goal about him when he pops around the penalty box.
An hardworking dynamic midfielder who can carry a ball solo, plays a direct style of football and shows up for a goal every other time? Joe Willock can very well claim to be, by virtue of his inherent qualities, Aaron Ramsey’s British heir.
But Aaron Ramsey was of course far more technical and far more tactically polished. If Willock’s passing could be improved, his tactical sense developed and refined, Arsenal will have another special player on their hands.
That is precisely why the gaffers love Willock: he has such unique traits and every coach want to be the one to unlock all that greatness. Mikel Arteta’s words when asked if Willock would fit playing as Number 10 are pretty much clear: “I think so. I think he’s perfect to play in that role. I think he’s got incredible physical attributes but as well he’s a very intelligent boy,” he said ahead of the second leg of the Europa League against Olympiacos.
“He learns really quickly, he’s very willing, I think he’s developing really really well and I’m very pleased with him.”
That sounds like Arteta has big plans for Willock in the future…