Make Or Break For Willock? By Dan Smith
With some Arsenal fans it seems (never having been more reactionary), it doesn’t take a lot for a player to get overhyped these days.
First, we have had the demand for Elneny to now get a new contract, by the same gooners who mocked him for only passing sideways. The argument is he now works hard, and these are the squad players every title winning team needs. In reality he always worked hard, that was never an issue. As good as he was at Old Trafford, he was equally good at the Nou Camp.
Under Mr Wenger though you needed someone to blame and the midfielder was an easy target as he was on the fringes. Now we are patting the Egyptian on the back for not being rubbish. Quite patronising to a professional footballer who earns a reported 50,000 pound a week.
Oh and guess what? It doesn’t matter what a title winning team needs because we are not one.
Going in to Sunday there is now a spotlight on Joe Willock after he yet again scored in the Europa League. Apparently now, he simply has to start against Aston Villa.
I understand that there needs to be an incentive to play well in the Cups, but let’s calm down before we say we have found our creativity in midfield, shall we?
Playing well against Dundalk and Molde shouldn’t be read into too much. In fact anyone not comfortable against that type of opponents shouldn’t be at this level.
I heard comparisons he’s our next Ramsey, which we need as we lack goals from midfield. In reality he’s got one goal in 33 Premier League games.
He’s played over 50 senior games now so he can’t keep hiding behind a lack of experience. That’s not saying he can’t do it but only when he’s doing it in the Prem do we know if he belongs at this level.
This week will be crucial to his development. Out of our crop of academy graduates he’s been in the shadow of Saka; this is the first time he’s had this level of attention. How he deals with it will tell us a lot about his mentality.
My observations of him in the League is that he plays safe, like he’s scared to make a mistake. It’s like he’s won a prize to play for the first team and doesn’t quite believe he belongs here. That’s what decides if you play for a club our size or a midtable club.
If he did start at the weekend, would he demand the ball, run at his man, take risks, believe he’s the main man who can win us the game? A 21-year-old Jack Wilshire or Cesc Fabregas would have. That’s the standards we should aspire too.
You can’t on one hand say we can win the title but then not compare Willock to those who came before him.
Or does our manager protect him, leave him on the bench, send him away with England ‘s Under 21 and keep a comfort blanket round him?
That would equally reflect on Willock’s personality, as his coach sees him every day and will know the 21-year olds level of confidence.
Joe Willock’s career is like that scene in the Wizard of Oz. He’s done well in Europe but that’s the black and white. Sunday could be like Dorothy walking through a door. The Premier League is colour, it’s magical, it’s what everyone remembers.
Is Joe Willock ready?
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