Tag Archives: joe willock

Time running out for 3 Hale End products as Arsenal look to secure Europa League qualification

Morning all.

Today we face Molde in the Europa League.

Victory would see The Arsenal move to 12 points and guarantee qualification into the knock-out stages. If Rapid Wien fail to beat Dundalk, we will also secure top spot with 2 games to go.

The Europa League has not seen Mikel Arteta put out a vast number of youngsters that we have seen in previous years.

This is a nod to how much stronger our squad is that our 2nd XI now is, filled with senior internationals, and highlights how many of our top youngsters are no longer really considered youngsters.

We could put out a side containing Kieran Tierney, Gabriel, Bukayo Saka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli and it would not feel like we have fielded a side of kids, even though every single one is still eligible to play for the U23 side.

It is important to get the balance of progression right. We want to see the likes of Folarin Balogun, Miguel Azeez and Ben Cottrell get a run out, but we also need to ensure the 2nd string are match sharp.

A couple of the youngsters expected to play are now playing for their future at Arsenal.

Reiss Nelson has not really done it since breaking into the Arsenal first team squad in 2017.

He had a decent loan spell at 1899 Hoffenheim but has failed to kick on.

Some will say “he has not had the game time” but with Nicolas Pepe’s form since his arrival, he would have got his chance if he was showing enough on the training ground.

“But he has spent a lot of time injured” is another defence of the youngster, but that should fall on deaf ears.

There is no point have the talent of Lionel Messi if you have the injury record of Darren Anderton.

Your top players are not only talented but also fairly physically robust. How many small, niggling injuries he has had at such a young age is a worry.

He reminds me a lot of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. That he might be talented but he will never remain fit enough to put together a run of half a dozen games to kick on.

Compare him to the kid a couple of years junior on the other side of the pitch.

Bukayo Saka has forced his way into the team due to his performances, and has stayed fit. He is now a regular for Arsenal and England, and is now levels ahead of Nelson.

Saka shows that if you are good enough, you get your chance. It might just be that Nelson is not good enough, and in the summer we should look to cash in, reinvest, and focus on the next rising star in the academy.

Likewise Eddie Nketiah is at a bit of a crossroads.

Nketiah is a goal poacher, but his problem is a modern striker needs to be able to do more – whether that be creating, holding the ball up or running the channels.

Eddie is 22 at the end of this year. With Gabriel Martinelli returning from injury and Balogun and Nikolaj Moller performing well at U23 level, time might be running out if he does not kick on to the next level.

Arsenal could sell Nketiah and Nelson in the summer, raising close to £40million as sides buy them based on their potential. This could be key funds to be reinvest in senior players, with the likes of Martinelli and Balogun stepping up to replace them.

Joe Willock is another one who might have peaked.

He has performed will in the Europa League in recent years but not taken that form into the Premier League. He is another the club might cash in on next summer, and start focusing on the likes of Azeez and Charlie Patino.

It would be a tough decision to let all 3 youngsters go, but if their developments has levelled out, then they should be moved on. Raising £50m+ in the sales of 3 academy products should be seen as a positive.

Arsenal would have additional funds to spend on superior players, and it frees the path for the next crop of youngsters to get their chance.

Hopefully all 3 put in top performances tonight, we win 6-0, Nketiah hat trick, 2 for Willock and one for Nelson.

Keenos

Doesn’t score, doesn’t create, can’t defend: What does the Arsenal midfield actually do?

What exactly does the Arsenal midfield do?

One thing they do not do is score goals.

Mesut Ozil (1) and Lucas Torreira (1) are the only midfielders who have contributed a league goal this season.

Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock have all yet to score a league this season.

The problem with Arsenal’s midfield is what else are they actually doing?

Liverpool are running away with the league this season and their midfield contribute little in terms of goals.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson have 3 each, as does Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whilst Fabinho has just one league goal. They are certainly not putting in Frank Lampard of Steven Gerrard type figures.

But there job in the team is not to get forward and score goals.

Jurgen Klopp as a hard working midfield that covers a lot of ground, limiting the opponents chances. They have conceded just 21 goals this season.

A big threat for Liverpool is their full backs.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has 12 in the league this season (2nd most), whilst Andrew Roberston has 7 (9th).

Liverpool use their midfielders to cover the full backs as the bomb forward.

Henderson and Fabinho are often found at right or left back during an attack, whilst Alexander-Arnold is putting in a cross which leads to a goal.

But Arsenal’s midfield does not provide much defensive cover.

Too often this season (and previous seasons) it has been too easy to cut through Arsenal’s midfield, to get at the defence. And when was the last time a midfielder covered his full back when bombing forward? It just does not happen.

So at Arsenal, the midfield does not protect the defence, it also does not score goals.

Barcelona’s peak team that had Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta in it did not provide much cover for the defence, and did not score too many goals.

Between them they average a goal every 13 games for Barcelona.

But what they did is create a lot.

There role in the time was to pass the ball in tight spaces until a gap appeared, which lead to goals for Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa or Neymar. It did not matter that they did not score many when they created so much.

Take Ozil, Xhaka, Torreira, Ceballos, Guendouzi & Willock as a collective.

In 8217 minutes of football, they have scored 2 goals and assisted 7.

That is a goal or assist every 913 minutes.

With 41 goals conceded in 30 games (8th highest), they are clearly also not providing much defensive cover.

So what exactly does Arsenal’s midfield do?

Keenos

Time for Unai Emery to “Dump the Kids”

The most enjoyable part of this season so far as been watching the continued development of the kids in the Europa League.

From home grown talents like Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe to imports such as Gabriel Martinelli. Add in Matteo Guendouzi who is now a fixture in the 1st team and the future for Arsenal looks bright.

The likes of Saka and Willock have both stepped up into the 1st team recently following good performances and injuries to others. Whilst this is credit to the pair, it is time for Unai Emery to make the tough decision and relegate both to the bench.

I am reluctant to use the word “dropped” as that is too strong a word; however that is what needs to happen.

Emery needs to get back to playing his strongest team. There is no room for sentiment.

Against Sheffield United, it was an odd decision to play Willock ahead of Dani Ceballos. It was a mistake. The 1st half passed the Englishman by resulting in him being taken off at half time.

Saka likewise failed to influence the game.

His only action of note was his yellow card for going down under a challenge which Mike Dean deemed to be a dive.

Both players have bright futures but need to be taken out of the 1st team in Arsenal’s present.

Some might say relegating both players to the bench could shatter their confidence. That should not be a concern.

If they do not have the mental strength to cope with being “dropped” then neither will make it to the top level. It should motivate them to work harder on their games and fight to get back into the 1st team. Become better players.

Against Crystal Palace tomorrow we need to see Ceballos (or even Ozil) return. Alexandre Lacazette (if fully fit) must also play upfront with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing on the left hand side.

If Lacazette is not fully fit then it should see Ceballos play left hand side (where he performs for Spain) and Ozil inside him.

There can also be the case made that Lucas Torreira should come in for Matteo Guendouzi. Many will also say he should come in for Granit Xhaka.

It is time for Emery to play his strongest XI

Leno

Bellerin Holding Luiz Tierney

Xhaka Torreira

Pepe Ceballos Aubameyang

Lacazette

Return Saka and Willock to the midweek team playing in the Europa League and League Cup. A half way step between the U23’s and Premier League

Keenos