It’s time for a little more Joe

Good morning. Wherever you are, I hope you’re doing well, staying safe and healthy.

I was gonna do an ‘On this day’ type post today, but going back over the archives it’s basically just years of ‘This Interlull is absolutely shit, I wish we had football back’.

Without Googling though, who was Arsene Wenger talking about on this day in 2008?

I believe he has something special. He has the work-rate, he has the spirit and he has good vision. He has all the physical and tactical ingredients to become a great midfielder. He still needs to develop his technique but he has what is needed to become a top-level player.


Alex Song?

Abou Diaby?

Steve Dallas?

Incorrect. He was referencing Aaron Ramsey. I miss Aaron Ramsey. I know he was a player who frustrated many, and he frustrated me at times too. His injury record was obviously a significant issue too, but what I wouldn’t give for a fit Aaron Ramsey right now. Think about it: a midfielder who can score goals. He can also run into dangerous spaces, sometimes with the ball, sometimes without. When he got it right and the delivery was there, the timing of his arrivals into the box was so hard for opposition defenders to deal with. And he could score goals. Did I mention that? He could finish like an absolute bastard.

I know there’s a lot of focus on our front three and our forwards in general – rightly so – but goals from midfield is something this team has been seriously lacking for too long. I think it’s why I have such a soft spot for Joe Willock. I recognise he’s some way from the finished article when it comes to his all-round game, and that’s in part because of his age and experience, but of all the midfielders we have and have had at the club of late, he’s our biggest goal threat.

He scored more goals in all competitions than every other central midfielder last season, and it was five goals. Not ten. Or fifteen. Five. That was as many as Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos got between them. In fact, in his relatively short Arsenal career so far, Joe has scored ten goals, only Xhaka has more but it’s only two more (12) with over 100 more appearances under his belt and hell of lot more minutes. And with all due respect to the Swiss, if he is your leading midfield goalscorer, you’ve got yourself a problem.

It’s why I can sit here on a Sunday morning in the middle of a pointless Interlull and think back wistfully on the time when we had a player like Aaron Ramsey, and wish we’d find a way to at least have Joe Willock on the bench. It’s not to say he’s the answer to all of our problems, far from it, but being able to bring on a player who can give the opposition something different to contend with has to be a part of what we do to make things better, right?

So far this season he has five appearances, two goals, and two assists. We cannot do anything in the transfer window for at least six weeks – if we’re even going to do anything at all – and we have many games to play in that time. The Europa League qualification is basically assured. In those games, play young players. Stick out a team full of embryonic London Colney talent, but when it comes to the Premier League, include Joe Willock. Include a player who provides running, movement, and goal threat. Include someone who can get into the box and not look like he needs a fainting couch and smelling salts because he’s got the vapours from being so high up the pitch.

If your team is lacking attacking potency, as ours is, there’s more than one way to address that. We all want to see changes to the front three, and I think those are necessary, but you can’t ignore the fact our midfield provides almost no goal threat whatsoever. This is where Joe comes in. It’s not to put pressure on him, or suggest he’ll do it every game or anything, but more than any other midfielder he’s got the natural ability to pop up in dangerous areas and stick it in the back of the net.

I rest my case, your honour.

And now I’m going to eat a bacon sandwich. Have a great Sunday folks.

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