Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Europa League is hugely important for Willock and Nelson

The period between breaking into the first-team squad and establishing yourself as a key member of the side can be extremely difficult for some prospects.

Some, such as Bukayo Saka, manage to make the step up rather quickly but for others the process can take years and even then they may not be successful.

Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson currently find themselves in something of a predicament, with neither player having featured prominently so far this season.

Willock has played 176 minutes in all competitions, while Nelson has been restricted to just 80 minutes, with neither player getting onto the pitch in the Premier League.

Last season Willock amassed 43 senior appearances for Arsenal but he has now fallen down the pecking order due to the signing of Thomas Partey and the return of Mohamed Elneny from loan.

Nelson, who also had a spell out through injury, has been impacted by the signing of Willian and knows that he faces a major challenge in terms of getting into the side.

The Europa League, then, could well be hugely important for both Willock and Nelson this season as they may receive game time that could help them to persuade Mikel Arteta to give them further chances.

Both players have featured heavily in the Europa League previously, but now the competition is of major significance to them.

Emile Smith Rowe also falls into this category although he is likely to be eased back slowly following his latest injury.

Nelson in particular has the quality to make an impact but it will be intriguing to see how this situation plays out and whether he and Willock are eventually able to break into the Premier League side.

With Arsenal having a large squad, it will be a challenging task, but the Europa League represents a big opportunity for them to prove their worth.

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

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Pepe and willian are so inconsistent ,Nelson can really get into contention for right wing if he performs well.


It’s difficult to tell how much of that is on Pepe & Willian vs. Arteta’s system where we literally funnel everything to the left. Auba & Saka are terrific players – but they also see far more of the ball on the left than whoever the right winger is. We really need to change up the attack as it’s become so completely predictable and teams have figured it out.


I’m super excited by Smith Rowe. He’s going to be done player.




Looks like you are one of those fooled by his kdb looks!


Haha nothing to do with the looks. Basing it largely on his europa league performances, he’s so sharp on the ball, ambidextrous, great attitude and already scored about 3 goals for us. And there’s a creative midfielder position up for grabs at Arsenal.

I predict he’ll be the breakout player this season.

And really bad eggs...

Excited by ESR also, but his injury record has been a worry tbh. He just seems like he’s never fit for a long run of games.

If history has thought us Arsenal fans anything, it’s that being able to stay fit is probably more important than talent. Examples: Wilshere, Diaby, Ox. This is why I’m very invested in Saka. He’s probably the only young talented player from the academy I can remember that has not had any serious injury issues.

Fingers crossed for ESR that he stays fit

Tanned arse

I thought this when he first played a couple of years back. Maybe it’s just the history we have with young players and injuries that leaves me fearing the inevitable. I’m even worried about martinelli and the impact of his injury. We’ve lost so much talent down the years (more than our fair share).


You’re both right with the injury situation. I really hope he finds some stability with that. Fingers crossed ay.


Would love Nelson to get more minutes, theirs a real player in there that needs nurturing to get the best out of him. I’m not a fan at all of the William signing purely because he seems to add so little at the twighlight of his career, instead he appears to spend the majority of his time prancing around the pitch with little to no effect, taking vital minutes away from Nelson and Smith-Rowe


I asked my friend who is a Chelsea fan what Willian actually does and he said ‘works hard, runs around but very rarely has any end product’. Apart from the Fulham game, that sounds about right

Tanned arse

That’s not a view based on chances created last season for chelsea I take it


It was a strange signing for sure. Nonetheless, Willian is quality and we’ll see more from him this season – still early days and Arteta still hasn’t worked out his preferred direction and setup in midfield and forwards. I’m less certain what we’ll see from him in 2022/23 season though…


He is going to be ozil like pain in his last year minus the PR stunts


By all accounts Willian is a true professional. Even if assumes more of a mentorship role his last year it won’t be anywhere near the circus Ozil has been the past 3 years. He’s very much someone who works hard, follows orders and hopefully contributes some goals /assists.


I hope “contributes more goals/assists is the one that comes true”, because he was not brought for mentorship.

Ofcourse he can take that role in the final year as you suggest but this season it’s not the primary thing we need from him.


On a brighter note, we are barely 5 matches = 15 minutes into the season and Willian had already equal the TOTAL no of assists of our esteemed former player maker /world class artist who contributed a very respectable 1 goal and 2 assists in 18 matches and 1,449 minutes on the pitch last season…Not sure if he can surpassed that awesome stats but hope that he will and more…

Dave Roberts

Willian runs back on defense. It’s not unusual to see him defending in our half of the field.


Let’s hope they get a chance – they both deserve it. Although we do have a large squad we shouldn’t confuse that with great quality and strength in depth though. The main reason why we have so many players is that fact that we couldn’t offload several in the recent window, although we desperately wanted to. I thought, and still think, that this is potentially a serious weakness with so many competitions and the need to rotate etc. I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see.

Dave Roberts

The main reason we’re stuck with extra players is the pandemic, meaning not enough cash around in the lower leagues to pay for their own guys. Let alone add new ones on Arsenal salaries.


I also cheer for the 2 GK from the academy who have been registered in addition to our 3 “senior” ones! Oh, wait, they’ve been loaned!


Nelson has a bit of chaos factor most of our players don’t have in the final third. Needs to play

Heavenly Chapecoense

Pépé is not even playing enough. Hope Nelson is not sent on loan again.


Liverpool have managed to get 23m + 18m from brewster and solanke respectively, players which didnt have even half the minutes as willock and nelson. Wondering if we can get the same out of these two if they dont make the cut with us..

Tanned arse

Not sure how they can keep pulling those deals off🤔


My guess is because they are a very high profile club not only here but across Europe. The benefit of this is the “rub off” premium – Liverpool’s players must be good quality to be at such a club – this applies generally, not just to their youngsters. Not necessarily true in every case, of course, but it’s a factor. Also, Liverpool have an extremely good, settled, backroom team who get the deals done – and their contacts are excellent (due to the high profile mentioned earlier, winning the PL, CL, World Club Champions etc.). Unfortunately, we’re not in that… Read more »

Say No to boring football

Fairly simple to understand. Not displacing Mane and Salah etc doesn’t make anyone a bad player. Brewster needs to displace players from a title winning and CL winning squad. You won’t be judged negatively for it. But not being able to get in ahead of pepe, willian, elneny etc means the player is not remotely top quality for sure.


Is this really a news article? Or more of a blog post…

Either way, I really do hope to see more of both Willock and Nelson.

Dubai Ham

Not gonna join the hype, we are not a club that can nurture young players anymore.
Look at Gnabry, he is a world class player, thanks to Bayern.
He could have been ours.
There are many more. The days of us creating the likes of Fabregas and Van Persie are well over.

Heavenly Chapecoense

But we have Saka and can complete Martinelli’s development. Martinelli is the next RVP to me.


He look potentially more an Aguero or a Lautaro Martinez type of player to me…Anyway hope he will come back stronger than before…He got pace, can run at people and have a great finisher instinct. He just need to be more aware tactically and link play better in Arteta team and the sky is the limit. Really hoping here that the injury has not hampered his raw potential or future development.


Gnabry left when? 5 years ago? Isn’t it time to let that one go considering there’s been about 5-6 regime changes since then?


We didn’t create either of them.


Oh, I wouldn’t be that pessimistic. Yes, we’ve let youngsters go, in hindsight, for too little or we shouldn’t have let them go at all, but things have improved. There will always be some that slip through the net – Sam Greenwood seems to be doing well at Leeds United U-23s, so perhaps the small fee for him will look a little cheap in years to come. Overall though, I’m more confident that youngsters can/will be brought on and through at Arsenal – if only because we just don’t have the resources to compete regularly with the top teams for… Read more »



Naked Cygan

I think Willock, Nelson, Runarsson, and even Eddie should start all 6 games in the group stages. No disrespect to our opponents, but if these 4 guys need to break into the first team and play regularly like Saka they have to be able to help us beat these teams. I would also ease Saliba and ESR into some of these games, and leave a strong bench in case of emergency.

Subs: Macey, Saliba, Tierney, Gabriel, Elneny, ESR, Pepe, Laca, Aubu


unfortunately Saliba can’t participate – and I’m really hoping we don’t feel the need for a back 3 in the Europa League, the quicker we can set up a solid structured back 4 and play some attacking, proactive football, the better off we’ll be. Counter attack is fine and dandy against the big boys, but there are really only 2 teams we should consider that mindset against, and we’ve already played them both.


Swap Saka for Elneny and then Willock to the LW and I’m right there with you. I’d also give Laca a run out at ST too here. Save Saka’s legs for the weekend. It’s a long season and Saka has a massive role to play. He’s not needed here

Tanned arse

I find myself liking the way we’re dealing with both Nelson and willock. I think they both have the ability to be regulars in the future but their ‘games’ at the moment are patchy. That’s not the level we’re after and to be taken out for sustained periods will only highlight that to them. Keeping them here rather than loaning however, shows they have value and the manager wants them. So, the encouragement is there as will be the opportunity. They have to raise their levels and on a consistent basis. If they get fewer minutes then they have to… Read more »


Yes, I agree. Constantly loaning out youngsters isn’t the way. Wenger did far too much of that and in many cases (almost all, probably) we got very little benefit from the players involved although many had talent. Let’s keep them where possible, give them a fair chance in appropriate games, and then decide on the evidence. We may still get it wrong, but that’s life.


Have to say I hope Willock responds to the challenge of not being in the team a bit better than he seems to be doing at the moment. I know you cant read too much into it but whenever I watch the training videos, which I do regularly, willock always seems the one putting in the least effort, not necessarily in the small matches but in the exercises he looks lethargic and uninterested. From a player looking to break into the first team I’d like to see at least a bit more desire in everything he does!


I’d like to see Arsenal developing relationships with a number of L1/champ clubs where they can be trusted to take on loaners that work for them but that we have faith that they have the structures in place, the training and development that broadly aligns with our own. Loans should be helpful in getting young players up to speed beyond the U23s, but just sending our creative midfielder to Stoke where they fight for survival and spend 90% of their time in their own half because they offered the best just is too naive, imo Saliba is a really good… Read more »


I can’t see anything Willian brings that Nelson doesn’t have. Baffling to me that the latter is not in match day squads and the former is starting every game.


Play them then

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