Arsenal saw positive performance almost across the board against Wolverhampton, but what Joe Willock did was even more special than that.
For about two years now, Arsenal has been trying to figure out what to make of Joe Willock. The young midfielder has been used across the board, from wing to deep midfield, but no matter the manager, no one has a concrete idea of where to fit him or what he does best.
It’s the one thing I keep looking for—what can he do consistently that we can count on him for? What is his thing?
Against Wolverhampton, I saw Joe Willock like I never had before. This match was fraught with tension, it had an intensity to it, it was a statement match, and Mikel Arteta trusted Joe Willock to come on in for the last stretch of the match.
From the moment he came on, the match turned around. Suddenly we had a thrust that we had all but lost since the second half began. Willock took more touches than any of the four late substitutes and he took them so well.
Of course, it all culminated in that crucial second goal production, when he drove into space, took his time, read the situation, and slotted the ball through legs to find Alexandre Lacazette. It was the perfect assist, the perfect play, and it came from the player who arguably needed it the most.
The statement was made.
Outside of that play, Willock was still a monster. He nearly got a goal of his own but for a goalline clearance by Neves and he continued to pop up in dangerous situations to give the Gunners that added hope of getting just one more.
At the final whistle, Willock had created more chances than anyone else on the team. And he only had 15 minutes to do it.
Now that I’ve seen how he handled this situation, all I want is more Willock. I get it now. This man is an all-action creator and it’s looking like that may well be his calling card. Get him into attacking positions, either wide as a winger or centrally like Ozil or Ceballos and we can count on him to push the envelope and make things happen.
Mikel Arteta deserves a ton of credit as well. Managers have tried to make Willock work, but it’s during Arteta’s reign that he’s evolved into a serious threat.