Joe Willock can be the heir to Aaron Ramsey, but how quickly?
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
Since Aaron Ramsey left the club for Juventus at the end of last season, Arsenal have any significant goal threat from midfield. Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli and the new man Nicolas Pepe have been given full responsibility of putting the ball into the back of the net. With Lacazette struggling with a poor run of form for a longer time than we’d like, Pepe going through a period of arduous adaptation and Martinelli struggling to get sufficient game time as of late, the task has been bestowed solely onto that of Aubameyang.
Unfortunately, relying on an individual to score the majority of your goals is not sustainable in today’s day and age. A goal scoring midfielder is very much needed at the moment to help take some pressure off of our four current main goal scorers. Joe Willock can be that player.
Prior to Ramsey’s departure, the Welshman guaranteed a decent amount of goals and assists every single season. This shown by the fact that he is our greatest goal-scoring midfielder ever with 64 goals. Now that he is gone, however, we lack any goals from the middle of the park. Mesut Ozil, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi have a combined 2 Premier League goals this campaign. One individual who could be the heir to the Juventus man's throne and fill the void the academy product Joe Willock.
The 20-year-old youngster has shown on a number of occasions that he is able to drive through defences, break into the box late and is willing to have a go on goal, contrary to many midfielders who are currently at the club. Within players such as Mesut Ozil lies an unshakeable unwillingness to take a shot, even when it seems the only option. With Willock that is far from the case. The young Englishman has no shortage of confidence and sometimes even takes shots when he should not to be completely honest.
Whilst the trait of shooting when it is not the best decision can be slightly frustrating at times, in the long run it can be a good thing for the club. Having an attacking midfielder who knows that it pays off at times to have a pop at goal can lead to moments of magic. Just look at Ramsey’s thunderous volley against Galatasaray. The Welshman had no right to have such an audacious effort from such a far way out but it paid dividends.
Goals such as that one and legendary finishes such as his goal in the FA Cup final against Chelsea demonstrate why having a goal scoring midfielder is so critical in two completely different ways. Unlike the volley against the current Turkish champions, against Chelsea, Ramsey opted for the late run that can confuse defenders who are focused on the main goal scorers. In effect, they lose track of a Ramsey-esque kind of player.
The daunting task of taking over the helm from Arsenal’s top scoring midfielder is a tall one for Willock, but one that he can achieve. While the youngster is still very raw, particularly in his technical attributes, the early signs have been nothing but promising in my opinion. At the undercooked age of only twenty, Willock can see his career shoot to the height of somebody like Ramsey's, higher, or even a complete failure of one.
Game time and maybe even a loan spell would do the academy product who has been a part of the Arsenal infrastructure since he was five-years-old a world of good if he cannot achieve what we need in a timely manner. All of the unteachable, physical attributes already lie within Willock, along with a confident mentality. The only things he must now learn is when and where it is the right time to shoot or pass and also positional awareness. Those attributes are destined to come with age and experience.
The sky's the limit for Willock, and who knows, maybe he will even surpass Ramsey one day to become our highest goal scoring midfielder of all time. However, the pressure is on, because if he cannot do so in a timely manner, the club may look to bring in a player who can do so now and think of Willock as a mere long-term alternative.