Should Arsenal now throw Joe Willock in at the deep end against West Ham?

Should Willock start against the Hammers? By Dan Smith

While there is a negative vibe over our transfer policy (rightfully so) it’s easy to forget that our goal scorers at the weekend were both products of our academy. Some will say it was only Blackpool, but what the likes of Iwobi, Willock, etc have had to go through to even get to that level should not underestimated.

Statistics show the likelihood of being at a top club since a child and then breaking into the first teams are low, so for these players to even believe in their own ability shows mental strength. Perhaps Arsene Wenger’s last great piece of management was using the cup competitions to blood the likes of Reiss Nelson and Maitland Niles. Time will tell if any of them can consistently handle this level but at a time when Stan Kroenke wants us to be self-financed, the success of our youth teams are vital.

It’s unlikely we will ever be champions based on a model where our recruitment team are trying to find value across Europe. If the American is not going to show the ambitions of our rivals, the best we can hope for is we discover a few gems and create our own superstars. Having grown up with us, these will become the heartbeat of the team, less likely to want to move away. So, Willock’s two goals on Saturday should not be dismissed as it only being against League One opposition. Imagine being a child dreaming of pulling on our famous shirt and scoring. Consider how many hurdles he would have had to jump over, how much adversity to conquer to reach that moment? At Joe’s age, his confidence will go up and down, there will be times he will need an arm round his shoulder. But with him feeling great about life this week, should Emery take advantage by playing him at West Ham?

More senior players looked jaded over Christmas so why not play someone 100 per cent positive? Will the nerves of a Premiership start, stop him from timing those runs from midfield? Will he choose to just play it safe? This is where we learn about a player’s personality. When Jack Wilshere broke through, from day one he wanted the ball all the time, demanded to be the man to dictate our play. We don’t know if Willock has that courage until we throw him into the deep end and when better than after he’s scored a brace?

Being 3 points behind Chelsea, Emery might feel he can’t take any risks and therefore start with Ramsey. But Rambo won’t be here this time next year, so you need to start thinking about who you want to replace him with. Same with Ozil. If you are dropping him for tactical reasons, who do you have in mind to fill in for him?

We all know our recruitment team have orders to find bargains. Loan deals or looking at contracts due to expire is not the way to find better than what you have, so why not see how Willock copes against the Hammers

What do you think Gooners?

Dan Smith


  1. Kenny says:

    A boss that only want profit, don’t want to spend money to become champions but want the team to self-finance, then
    1. Kick out Stan Kroenke
    2. Persistent until 1 happens.

    1. Phil says:

      Totally agree Kenny with your point 1.
      Now would you mind explaining how we are likely to do that.

      1. jon fox says:

        Perhaps we could build Trumps wall around Kroenke. And send HIM to Mexico.

  2. Trudeau says:

    If Arsenal are keeping Ramsey until the summer than I think his performance v Blackpool merit a start for him versus West Ham. Willock had a good game no doubt but in my opinion should get most of his starts in the cup games this year, and hopefully some time as a sub in PL.

    1. BenardoM says:

      Blackpool is a minor team as compared to other teams in Epl.Fringe players should be tested against such teams and not players of Ramey’s standard.

      1. RSH says:

        i swear it’s just arsenal fans that think ramsey is bad. When every big team in Europe wanted to sign him just this past month, you might have to accept the fact you are wrong.

  3. Adajim says:

    If coming as a sub would do, its ok.
    We cant take chances, it might go either way,we are in the 2nd half of the season, things are getting more heated, a bad performance may destroy him, its best we ease him into the team

  4. Sue says:

    Tbh I’d not rated him very highly (especially after the Newcastle away game a couple of seasons back)
    He has improved lately, I’ll give him that.. but for me he’s not a starter… points are precious & we can’t afford to drop anymore! Maybe bring him on for the last 5 minutes or so….

  5. Break-on-through says:

    I must admit. After seeing his two brothers not making it, I began to doubt whether he could. I watched him whenever I could, seen a few youth games, and then when he stepped up I was doubting he’d have what it might take. This performance and his last cup performance earlier on, he looked really good. On the wing as well, he looked a threat, and has got some skills. You want aggression from your young players, and that suits him when he shows it. He can take a hit, so once he starts giving them too, I’ll be happy. Ian Wright had a go at a fan and he called it, he said you pal, obviously have no clue what it takes to make it in football, never mind for the Arsenal. Then spoke about how much work he would have to put in to get that call ahead of many others vying for the same chance. That can be a bit lost on fans, I know I didn’t dwell on it until Wrighty brought it up, so well done Wrighty putting spectators in their place …Legend!!!!!

  6. Tom says:

    Rowe Smith

    Other then Niles the rest all play in similar positions and so it would likely be that not them will remain with us over the seasons ahead. Add to this saka and a few others pushing these guys.

    Nonetheless giving players game time will help us understand who is good enough and who will show signs of development. Iwobi Niles and Rowe Smith have shown this in their game times so give them 20 mins when we can during the right times in the right games.

    Also t must be added that when you consider their ages too, gendouzi and torriera have shown to have positive influences.

  7. ThirdManJW says:

    Willock has only played against poor opposition, so it’s hard to measure his progression until we start seeing him against PL quality. To be fair though, he has performed very well, so he deserves a chance in the league. Too risky starting him, but I’d like to see him get some minutes from the bench. I don’t think ANYONE in our midfield can give the ball away as much as Xhaka does, so Willock wouldn’t worry me. Haha!

    1. jon fox says:

      Why the “Haha? No need, cos what you say about Xhaka was perfectly true and more worthy of a cry comment than a laugh one. How so many Gooners, even now and in his third disastrous season, still pick him in their start elevens is one of lifes great unexplained mysteries to me. I see a rash, slow, unaware, cumbersome and AWFUL player with a hard shot and nothing much else,save a tendency to lose his head. HE IS NOT REMOTELY THE QUALITY WE NEED.

      There is no way Sven and Emery would have wasted £35mill on such as him!

  8. Ackshay says:

    Carrasco to arsenal is looking like a real deal. Only obstacle would be for him to lower the ridiculous wage he is on in china. Finally a real winger capable of scaring defenders with his dribbling. There are very good players out there who made wrong career choices or are at a club that does not suit their styles so we don’t really need to splash out 50m on every flavour of the month like certain clubs to compete.

  9. Grandad says:

    Arsenal have some really talented youngsters including Willock who should be given an opportunity when it becomes apparent that we are not in contention for a top four place.Given our defensive problems i expect this situation to arise within the course of the next month or two unless we can bring in a top quality centre back during the January window.As it is the prospect s of finding a suitable defender at this stage of the season is virtually zero .Emery will not take a risk by playing Willock against West Ham when the big earning Ozil and Ramsay are available.

  10. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    My exclusive early Arsenal 4-2-3-1 starting XI and 7 Gunners on the bench against West Hammers read.

    Bellerin Mustafi Sokratis Kolasinac;
    Torreira Xhaka;
    Niles Ozil Iwobi;
    Cech Koscielny Jenkinson Guendouzi Ramsey Willock Lacazette.

    Does Willock deserved to be on the Arsenal bench for West Ham? Going by his exploits against Blackpool in the FA Cup last weekend, my answer to my question is YES! So let some one tell Emery to please adopt my above Arsenal 4-2-3-1 starts and bench for our away match to West Ham in the PL on Saturday. For, this is the Arsenal starting XI and bench that I strongly believed will beat the West Hammers to the collection of all the 3 points that will be at stake in the match.

    1. jon fox says:

      Wot no Licht? And him being such a young, dynamic and reliably brilliant defender too! Or possibly, NOT!!!! He would be the first name on the teamsheet for me. SPURS teamsheet!

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