Joe Willock is an extremely talented academy prospect, but he has found the slight jump from under 23’s to the first team difficult, to say the least. It’s a difficult balance with a young player, between nurturing the natural ability or protecting them from the pressures of the modern game.
Joe Willock has fallen between those two points on occasion. When his chances have come, he hasn’t performed consistently or shown a propensity to dominate in the midfield role. To some degree, that has been because he has been asked to fulfill roles within the team that has required him to suppress his natural game such as winger or deep-seated midfielder.
That said, you can only make so many allowances at the highest level and Willock needs to show his worth if he is to stay at the club or in the first team. Against Molde, Willock received praise from a mixture of fans and professionals with a performance that showed his ability to get forward.
He drove into areas of space that created havoc and had a twitchy defence in meltdown. This was probably his best performance since the Wolves fixture at the tail of last season. Willock looked good value as he managed to assist, create, and eventually finish the Molde game with a sublime final goal.
Some have compared him to Aaron Ramsey, but the youngster has to make up considerable ground for that comparison to be accurate. Ramsey frequently used to deliver a gutsy and committed box-to-box performance which saw him grab 40 goals in 262 appearances, but it was the competitiveness that shone through.
I freely admit that I’m slightly optimistic, but that I remain unconvinced by the midfielder at present. I would dearly love to see a homegrown player make it to the first team, joining illustrious predecessors such as Rocastle, Parlour, Davis, and Thomas but again, he has work to do.
He needs to show his talent and ability when called upon, in the hope that Mikel Arteta includes him in his future plans at the club. More showings like the one against Molde will make it inevitable but he will also have to show more against the biggest clubs in the Premier League.
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