Joe Willock remains one of Arsenal’s ongoing questions—what can they expect from him? Here are three things he needs to improve on first.
Arsenal‘s youth ranks are getting all kinds of attention these days, and for just cause. Guys like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka are exciting enough to be ranked among the best teenagers in Europe, but then you start getting into the deeper options like Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson—guys that are still capable of surprises, even if we haven’t seen them all together just yet.
Then there is Joe Willock. Willock has been one of our top young players for quite some time, but his problem is that he hasn’t developed in the right ways. So much of his talent is still raw and untapped and lacking in finality.
For someone like Martinelli, we saw that progression happening really quickly and really conclusively. A lot was already there and done. But for Willock, the youthful tendencies are still there and part of what he needs to improve to get to that next level of relevance, where he could be a midfield solution—a solution that we sorely need.
Joe Willock is one of Arsenal’s brightest, but these 3 things can improve
So, with the future in mind, with him as a solution in mind, let’s move forward with talking about what he needs to improve to get there.
We start with No. 3.
3. Intelligent movement
This is such a big part of the evolution of pretty much every pivot midfielder out there, and Willock isn’t quite there yet. On the ball, he moves like crazy. Sometimes he even moves too much. But it isn’t the quantity of the movement, but the quality of it. Too often he’s frantically moving all over the place, on and off the ball, and he doesn’t need to me.
If he could just calculate those movements better, particularly off the ball, he’d find that it contributes better to the attack than his current approach of all action, all the time. There’s still value in that, particularly on defense, but he has to also remember positional awareness and making the right movements on defense too. It’s a lot, but it starts in the mind.
Moving on to No. 2.