Willock stars as Arsenal U23s continue resurgence

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Arsenal U23s thrashed their Tottenham Hotspur counterparts 4-0 on Friday night, with Joe Willock, as has often been the case this season, at the forefront of proceedings.

Willock hit a brace at the Lamex Stadium to take his tally for the campaign in all competitions, including first-team appearances, to eleven goals in 16 games, which is some return for a midfielder.

The 19-year-old has benefitted immensely from the tutelage of Freddie Ljungberg, and Willock’s display capped off an excellent spell for him after he made his first Premier League appearance of the season as a late substitute against Huddersfield Town last weekend.

Eddie Nketiah was also on the scoresheet, with the striker scoring his first goal since November 3rd. Nketiah also caught the eye with his link-up play and was in action just 24 hours after being named on the bench for the first-team in the Europa League.

Arsenal’s other goal in their comprehensive victory was scored from the penalty spot, with Charlie Gilmour showing excellent composure to find the net.

Dominic Thompson, a left-back, was unusually deployed as an attacking midfielder, but that didn’t affect Arsenal’s momentum going forwards as they proved to be too difficult for Tottenham to deal with.

It seems very unlikely that Arsenal will retain the Premier League 2 title this season, but they have certainly turned a corner in recent games, with Ljungberg managing to get his team playing cohesively.

Arsenal will also be delighted to have kept a clean sheet given that they have frequently conceded goals at this level this season. Goalkeeper Deyan Iliev, however, had to be substituted late on due to injury, with 17-year-old Tom Smith entering the fray for his debut.

Daniel Ballard, who was selected ahead of Zech Medley, produced a composed performance at centre-back, with Arsenal playing extremely well overall.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Andy M
Andy M

Great to see Willock doing so well. Didn’t you say a few weeks ago that you felt he was nearer being ready for the first team than other players who maybe get more hyped?

Do you think Nketiah is in danger of being overtaken by Balogun and John-Jules? Or is he still the most likely? (Didn’t he score against West Ham recently or does that not count as the game was abandoned?). Hopefully at least one of our youth strikers will successfully make the step up.

Elmo
Elmo

Great to read something positive coming from the club. Thanks Jeorge.

Bob
Bob

Thanks for the update Jeorge. If we can have a couple of academy lads step up to the first team soon it’s going to take a bit of slack off this rebuild we need to do. Willock has come on bounds, so I’m hoping he can make the transition and find some consistency in the senior team too.

BigArse
BigArse

Perhaps Willock and ESR can replace Ramsey and Ozil next year? It would leave funds available for a top class centre back and winger.

Goonerink

I don’t get the down votes, obviously they aren’t like for like replacements but if they are off I would rather us go all out for a 15 points saving defender.

Caligunner
Caligunner

What part of replace ozil and Ramsey isn’t like for like?

There isn’t a such thing as one player making that type of difference in reality imho. It’s about having a strong 11 and squad. It’s about playing as a unit and defensively we don’t play like that. I don’t see how you can bring in one CB to make that difference.

Torriera has come in and we still look horrible defensively or even worse. I would say he has improved our midfield but hasn’t saved us on goals or pts?

gendouziremindsmeofdiabysortof
gendouziremindsmeofdiabysortof

But you see what Van Djik has done in Liverpool. I do actually think a Kouliably could make a similar difference in our squad. There’s more that goes along with that than simply playing ability. The confidence of the squad overall can be boosted, the playing style can be improved with more quality coming out from the back. One big signing at the back could make all the difference.

santori
santori

SmithRowe certainly but Willock depends.

We need more experience in midfield and someone who can carry the ball through the lines.

I don’t think Torreira is as good as some prefer to imagine him to be.

He had a good start but then a rough patch and now he is OK.

We need a bit more ‘power’ in midfield.

Caligunner
Caligunner

What funds? The 0 we will be getting for Ramsey in the summer when he departs? Maybe we’ll net 10-15m after we give ozil a transfer bonus to leave?

Replace 2 sr attacking players and get a world class CB and winger?

Shank

Thumbs down for BigArse………strange.
Willock keeps popping up on the radar, and may well become a regular first teamer.
Frankly, there have been quite a few opportunities for him to have played for the first 11 this season, but we await, patiently!

Naked cygan
Naked cygan

Mix the U 23 in our first team. We need a change!!!
Cech: past it, too slow
Mustafi: not good enough to play for arsenal
Kos: great defender, coming to end of his career
Montreal: natural left beck, not suited to play CB
Kolas: great going forward, sh*t defender
Aeinsly: still raw, not a natural RB
Ganduz: raw, still learning
Terrier: our star man
Iwobe: not good enough to play for us, inconsistent
Mkhi mouse: not good enough to play for us, inconsistent
Laca: puts in a shift, needs better service
Abu: needs better service
Ozil: needs play or leave
I need to go now….

santori
santori

Why is Mustafi not good enough? Did he do anything wrong last match? Was he around when we slipped points to Soton and BHA?

Why is Torreira our star man, did you not see him give a way or be robbed off the ball against Soton, BHA and Liverpool 5 or 6 times whilst trying to play out of the back, 3 of which led directly to goals.

Why is Iwobi not good enough. Do you not noticed last 3 games before europa, in league, he gave the key pass on the left to set up two goals and scored against Huddersfield?

You really need a reality check is what.

Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan

LMAO

k9ine
k9ine

Better than Suarez. He needs to be given his chance.

Maxin In The Shade
Maxin In The Shade

Agree.

Give these guys a go. Just throw them in.
Give them at least a couple of games to see what they can do. They’re at the right age now.

If we’re gonna go the academy route, then let’s take advantage of it.

santori
santori

How is he better than Dennis?

This sort of promise from youth ranks always seem to fool the amateur into believing they are better than they are.

A couple of matches against poorer opponents and suddenly they are the answer to everything.

Similar with Jenkinson and Elneny. Average players who look ‘ok’ at times against lesser oppoinents and suddenly they are better than first team players.

Frankly Jenkinson and Elneny need to be sold before Mustafi or Granit etc but you won’t find buyers for them bc they are truly cack.

Willock has potential but is not the answer in midfield.Not yet anyway.

Ayush Jain
Ayush Jain

We need to give them chance atleast one youngster in a starting XI.
Even S*urs are giving the youngster chances and need to buy Hakim Ziyech to bring speed and creativity at our helm.

Rich
Rich

We have a retarded fan base who are happy in destroying the confidence of our young players, I don’t hold much hope for getting these lads into the first team on a regular basis.

Hantal
Hantal

He’s been the best ‘youth team’ player we’ve given senior games to this season. I hope to see more of him before the end of the season

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Ljungberg in.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we’re likely to be also-rans for the next few years drifting in the wilderness, I’d rather a new project youth 2.0 as that at least gives me something to get excited about every season, rather than seeing the likes of Mustafi when I know that’s his limit and nothing else.

And with that, I’m keeping a careful eye on Freddie as a coach. Seems to have done things the right way, rather than the rapid path to glory Henry decided to take.

santori
santori

Again why Mustafi?

He was solid against Bate. watch 84th mminute, a good defensive piece of work to tackle their man on the break.

Do you base your observation in reality at all?

Was Mustafi around for our slip ups to BHA, Soton?

We have other more useless players in the squad like Jenkinson, Elneny.

Torreira hasn’t been that sparly against Soton, BHA or Liverpool losing the ball 3 times leading directly to goals. Those 3 games cost us 8 points this season.

Time to have a reality check.

kas
kas

PV4 is a good shout for next boss, with Mad Jens & Freddie as his team.

Caligunner
Caligunner

You can probably throw in arteta In that group with Henry who hasn’t managed any level

I would say out of the names we were throwing out there last spring with little to no experience Viera seems to have impressed from afar. At least he’s showing that he’s willing to go out there and work his way up the ladder and figure out what works and doesn’t work instead of learning in the job at arsenal which arteta would have been doing.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Yeah he’s done things the right and smart way; first in the MLS away from European media eyes where he can make mistakes risk-free, to now Nice in France. All following his stint at academy level at City.

santori
santori

Don’t see why we cannot use Ozil.

Particularly against Bate where we enjoyed 71% possession, we needed the key to unlock their tight ranks and Ozil is the master of that sort of thing.

kas
kas

He (ozil) is swanning around in Turkey, taking the piss or what. Play him or pay him off, there’s no middle ground now.

santori
santori

The midfield against Bate was better than against Huddersfield where we failed to impose any semblance on control.

Against Bate with GRANIT and Guendouzi, we had effective control but failed to unlock the game further up. OTOH we started brightly first half.

Its the response second half that worries me.

Granted we let in a goal from a set piece conceded by Monreal, these things happen and we should have enough to power through.

BUT we were tepid second half barely testing the goal.

When we brought in Torreira, Dennis and Auba, things did not get any better.

Again the simplistic fans would deem to cast blame on Mustafi or the favorite scapegoats like Granit or Iwobi (or in the past Flamini)

In fact Iwobi was one of our more effective players all night playing through Kolasinac twice with superb diagonal deftly weighted passes and generally protecting the ball for us, taking on their defensive right side.

Granit kept control of the ball well in midfield.

I can’t see what Mustafi has done wrong. A great cross into the box first half, tried to play forward quicker and very good composure 84th minute to stay firm when one on one with their striker on the break.

Some people simply prefer to belief what they want to then understand the real issues plaguing the team.

As mentioned, I’m not sure what is going on with Ozil but in this situation with us having 71% of the ball, surely it would have been a plus to have the master locksmith on and unlocking the tight defense packed in their box.

Emery needs a bit of a rethink particularly with Lacazette (foolishly) missing the second leg bc of a red.

Mother
Mother

The only ‘simplistic fan’ here is you if you think Mustafi – a centre back – had a great game because he crossed the ball…

You’re correct to allude to the fact that our general defensive game is bad but don’t pretend that Mustafi is unfairly treated. He can’t pass for toffee, slide tackles at the wrong moments, panics, has piss-poor awareness, slips over, loses his man too easily, complains too much and has bad positioning.

None of those things are to do with the collective performance, they’re all individual mistakes.