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?