Friday, July 19, 2024

Willock deserves further chances but patience is required

The Europa League final against Chelsea is a game that the vast majority of people connected with Arsenal will want to forget about entirely, but for Joe Willock it represented another significant step forward in his career.

Having developed extremely well this season under the guidance of Freddie Ljungberg at U23 level, there was some confusion amongst regular watchers of the youth sides as to why Willock was consistently being overlooked by Unai Emery with regards to first-team action.

Even after an excellent display in the FA Cup against Blackpool, during which he scored a brace, Willock found his opportunities limited.

Towards the end of the campaign, however, the 19-year-old started to become increasingly involved in first-team training sessions and was handed a start against Burnley on the final day of the Premier League season.

Willock seized his opportunity on that occasion and that put him into contention for involvement in the Europa League final.

When the teamsheets were submitted for the clash in Baku, it didn’t initially look as if any of the youngsters who had made the trip would get any playing time.

Willock, though, was brought on for the final 12 minutes as he replaced Mesut Ozil and the youngster played without fear as he made some impressive bursts forward; something we have become accustomed to seeing at U23 level.

Although he should have found the net, it was an encouraging display by Willock and one that indicated that he will receive further opportunities to impress next season.

There have been many calls to play youngsters in the aftermath of the loss to Chelsea, and that is certainly a welcome approach, especially when Arsenal have a host of talented prospects at their disposal at present – Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe are returning from loan, while Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi are on the fringes of the first-team, with others behind them.

Some patience is required, however, as it can initially be difficult for some of these youngsters to adapt to playing in a high-pressure environment, especially considering how significant the step up is from U23 to senior football.

The aforementioned youngsters, Willock especially, all deserve chances next season but if they do play there will inevitably be occasions where they make costly mistakes or miss an inviting chance to score.

Perhaps the best solution would be for players like Willock to start some games, be brought on in others and then left out on other occasions, rather than simply being thrown in at the deep end.

As long as they are given time to develop and learn from their mistakes, Arsenal’s youngsters should be given chances to prove their worth.

Jeorge Bird is the author of Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Patience Moi???

Nah I’m fully expecting him to take a spot and I expect him to shoot four shots every 15minutes like he did in the final. But this time on goal obviously.

Good lad i think we have kinda slept on him but his profile and the timing of events could mean that there is a lot of gametime ahead for him.


It was criminal he wasn’t given more minutes after snatching a brace earlier this season.

Terrible moral sapper for the other youth players, not to mention Joe.

That with the loan signing of Suarez isn’t going to fill these lads with confidence that they are valued by the club.

Sell Mkhi, sell Elneny, sell Xhaka. Let’s buy a top, top CB and start letting these lads play some games with a solid defense behind them which means they can make mistakes.


You forgot Sell Özil.


‘Sell’ would imply a fee…


The only person who can and would buy Ozil is Mathieu Flamini.

Arsenala Vista Baby

As painful as it gets missing the EL Cup and CL, but looking at a bigger picture, Considering Chelsea’s transfer ban, we are not in a too bad of circumstance that we are still capable of strengthening some areas. We must keep Auba & Laca at all cost.. when we are back in the CL they will be our Henry & Bergkamp, the most feared attacking pair. I still think Emery is the right man to steer us back to CL. If he does it in his second season, that should do it at least for me.


Mate. This club is rotten. A few shrewd transfers aren’t going to save us. With Everton, Wolves and possibly Newcastle investing big, we are closer to dropping out of the top half of the table to getting champions league football in my opinion.


Problem is we also have utd doing a squad rebuild atm,
So want a player with pl experience?
Most of utd’s sellees are younger and better

Wilshere's Middle Finger

I would be worried about that if Ed Woodward wasn’t overseeing it. Que them signing another collection of over rated players for 100s of millions.

Mesut O’Neill

Aubameyang will be into his 40’s by the time Arsenal are back in the Champions League.

Wilshere's Middle Finger

It will be hard to get someone to take Mhiki off our hands too with a £200k salary. What club would pay that to him given his inconsistent form at both us and United.

Crash Fistfight

Someone in China perhaps? It’s not like he needs to play for a good team to get picked for the Armenian national team, and he could rake it in. Doesn’t seem to be a prospect for some reason though. Not sure why there’s no interest from China in Ozil, either.


He’s been my favourite youngster this season, hopefully get him a lot more minutes next season

Man Manny

Nketiah’s situation seems to be a little less straight forward if you ask me. He’s been longer in the periphery of the first team but does not seem to be making any meaningful progress.
If Auba and Laca stay, would the coaches trust him to fill Welbeck’s place?
I don’t see that happening.
A loan deal might be the best option.
I hope he doesn’t become the next Chuba Akpom.


And not just him. Swift integration of Willock, Saka, Nelson. And a 2-3 more youngsters to grow slowly next season. Why not fully use the potential we have?

Gary Baldy

Given our estimated budget we might have to rely on all of those mentioned in the article more often than we might now think.

That might not be a bad thing if we buy a solid set of defenders to help them, as well with Holding and Bellerin coming back.


Did more in the little time he was on than Ozil did for 85 minutes.

Peter Story Teller

Yep! And Ozil’s 85 minutes probably cost us more than Willock’s annual salary.
Play the lad and he will soon learn where the net is and put the fear of God up many Premier League defences with bursts like he has already shown he has at his disposal!


Pfoufff… well, give Özil another attacking player, first!

Pickle Rick

First the reason why Ozil wasn’t effective was because of Giroud.
But now even having both Lacazette and a 30-goal scorer Aubameyang in front of him isn’t enough, he needs another one.

Maybe playing with 5 strikers will get the best out of Ozil.


I know he’s a young player that came on in a dead game where we were well beaten and made an impact, and I dont want to dig him out at all. But fuck me, he has to score chances like the one he missed if he’s going to make it at Arsenal. I mean Carlos Vela would’ve tucked that away. I am all for ‘Operation Youth Part Deux,’ but these guys have to be good enough. We cant just promote them to the first team out of nothing other than an unwillingness to spend money in the transfer window.… Read more »

Okechukwu Jude

These young guns need a manager who will trust them. Say all you want about Wenger but he gave the youngsters a chance. I don’t know what Emery is doing trust me


Emery consistently played Bellerin, Holding, Leno, AMN, Gendouzi, Toreira & Iwobi. While a few of those guys are a little older (23 range), he consistently played youth. We need young players- whether or not they come from the academy or we bring them in a la Gendouzi really shouldn’t matter.

Faisal Narrage aka Mr. Project Youth 2.0

Leno is youth?

Ryan Cummins

Wenger use to trust youngsters, I remember Wenger saying Willock is pushing Xhaka for a first team place, in his last season as manager and then he ignored him all season.

Ahmad Farid Ary Wardhana

Not really mate, you dan see any statistic said Willock was more involved and get more minute last season

Partially this season squad had toreira and guendozi and Emery prefer then than willock


Willock played more first team minutes under Wenger than Emery. People just didn’t have as much anger about the players last season, it was Wenger who was the target for the vitriol.

Peter Story Teller

Willock’s misses were no worse than our two ‘world class strikers’ had on the night and at other times during the season but he is young enough to improve. The current squad are all fairly lightweight and easily get pushed off the ball in away league games so what is the difference?
At least we would have a team maturing together.
True, we do need a new Patrick Vieira but where do you get one of those for 40 million quid?


Our Vieira cost less than that. The gems are out there we just need to unearth them

A Different George

Do you not think that all the big clubs throughout Europe have much better scouting networks than they did in 1998? Do you not think that clubs have access to analytics about every young player who shows a bit of promise? There are still gems out there–but almost all of them are well known, and very few will be signed without outbidding other clubs.


True, but similarly to 98 it’s a case of finding new methods and regions and getting there first

Lagos Gunner

Hopefully Bielik can be our new Vieira as he impressed in midfield during his loan spell at Charlton Athletic


Are they ready? Only one way to find out and that’s play them in those cold rainy nights away up north being kicked about. Hopefully they will either cope, or learn.
Can’t be much worse than some of the existing seniors in the team.


Yes he missed but your so called big shots.. missed too check Kolasinac


Did himself no disgrace with the performance in the final. At least had some sense of urgency and went direct. Should definitely get more opportunities. BUT we should be getting another CM in. I’d like someone like Geoffrey Kongdogbia (Valencia) with the power and dribbling ability. But we will probably penny pinch. Others we should consider should include the pair of Portugese Andre Gomez (Everton on loan from Barca) and Ruben Neves (Wolves). Also interesting Iberian Xeka (Lille OSC). Just need someone to control the game for us better. Guendouzi will likely get better next season. Granit is improved over… Read more »

Ryan Cummins

Bielik had a fantastic season at Charlton, I know it’s not the same level as the Premier League however he should be given a chance to play next season.

Riess Nelson must be given the wide attacking role if Arsenal FAIL to get a wide attacking players.

Arsenal need to buy at least one top quality centre back and let the youngsters loose to run about next season.

God is a Gooner

Don’t worry, Bielik will be that new CB.

Faisal Narrage

Prefer he’s tried at DM first, and we spend our wad on a WC CB.


I was really impressed with Bielik during the Charlton games I watched this season. To get MOM in a play off final at Wembley is a decent display that he’s worth a go.

Lucas Sam

I reckon a CB but also RB and LB are important, the lack of proper defending from the side forced us to play a back 3 and loosing the midfield.

Zambian Gunner

I don’t want to get into the who is better between Wenger and Emery but truth be told Arsene trusted youth players more than Emery. He was not scared to start young players in big games. I remember when he started Sanogo in the FA Cup final.

God is a Gooner

Emery is in his first season at a new club, Arsene was in his 2nd decade, there’s absolutely no point comparing the two.


Really? This same Emery that has given 19yr old Matteo Guendouzi more minutes than any other teenager in the division.


I think to point to Guendouzi is unfair on Emery because people can just as quickly reply with names like Iwobi, Bellerin, Walcott, basically the first project youth and most unfairly, Cesc and Wilshere.

Emery is a coach who just wants to win. He is not a developer of talent.


Fourth goal, TORREIRA was fleeced yet again in midfield.

It isn’t the first time by any means.

Against BHA, Soton (away), West Ham, United on either side of Xmas, he mispassed or was robbed of the ball six or 7 times 3 or 4 led directly to goals against us.

And some continue to heap praise on him, criticise Granit, wonder why Emery has Granit start ahead of the little guy.

Faisal Narrage aka Mr. Project Youth 2.0

I see you’ve moved from targeting Elneny to Torreira.

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