Joe Willock shines again, can he make the first team?

by .

Are you NOT entertained?

*throws empty can at wall

The Europa has delivered again. Peak entertainment in a world of MANY choices. Arteta’s Arsenal do not know how to lose. Three wins out of three. This is how we do it.

The starting 11 drew the usual grumbles. It was quite senior, there weren’t many kids, and it felt a little bland.

Things didn’t start well. Lots of possession, terrible in the final third, same as usual. Then Leno fired a long pass out the back, Molde found Martin Ellingson, he then picked out the bottom corner from 25 yards. Not a distance you expect Leno to be beaten from, not a good look for him… again.

We always had too much for them. In fact, we had so much mental sauce, we did the school playground equivalent of asking Molde to ‘stop punching themselves.’

Yep, we extracted TWO own goals. The first came when Xhaka found himself the further player forward, he waited for Eddie to run past him, he then hit a low cross at Willock who forced Haugen to finish it for him. Outrageous mind games.

The second goal was more Willock. He played a one-two with Xhaka, tripped, kept his composure, the ball dropped for him, he controlled it, fired it across the box and Sinyan accidentally bundled it in. Unreal humiliation.

Nicolas Pepe continued the good time with a goal of his own, this time from Saka, the low cross to penalty spot was perfect for the Ivorian to sweep across goal.

The final goal of the game was for MOTM, Joe Willock. Nicolas Pepe, in the middle of the pitch, fed a central ball into a run from the left, Joe controlled it and smashed the ball into the top corner. Wonderful.

So what did we learn?

Errrm, well, we can create when we fancy it? We were depressingly awful in the final third in the first half, but we still managed to come out of the game with 16 attempts, with 5 on target. The interesting thing is the system isn’t the problem… the problem is that our players are just very out of form when it comes to being decisive in the final third.

Nicolas Pepe scored a goal and had an assist, but he didn’t really look like he was a cut above the Molde players. I thought Willian looked poor again. He just doesn’t look like the efficient machine he was at Chelsea.

The player who looked really interesting was Joe Willock. He isn’t clinical with his final ball or pass yet, but he is always in the right position. That’s 75% of the battle. Composure comes later. He had a great game, he ran hard, fast, and he never hid. If he can translate that into the league, we really have a player on our hands.

So overall, not much to learn against a bad team, but at least we won convincingly, and a player we’re all interested in put on a show.

Right, see you in the comments!

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390 Responses to “Joe Willock shines again, can he make the first team?”

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  1. Graham62

    Anyone who voted for Trump a second time, is one hell of a sick sob imo.

    That means there are an awful lot of sickos in the United States.

  2. Useroz

    It’d appear Pepe is a good winger if the playing system(s) would work for him and take advantage of his rather specific (aka limited) skillset.

    Arteta doesn’t deploy the teams to such effect and Pepe could deliver to Ligue 1 performance as a result It also perhaps indicates that Pepe isn’t very adaptable to the PL or has not high learnability. Its a big worry if this persists given the price tag!

    If Pepe costed £27m or even £45m the noises wouldn’t have been different. In a blind test, one would be forgiven to think that on current performance level Nelson wete the £72m buy, though both don’t deserve anywhere close to £50m valuation!

  3. Emiratesstroller

    There are a lot of rumours circulating that Arsenal are interested in Szoboszlai who plays at
    RB Salzburg.

    He would apparently cost less than half what Lyon are demanding for Aouar.

    Arsenal need to add creativity in midfield and switch in due course to a more offensive 4-3-3

    It will be interesting to see what transfer business Arsenal are transacting in the New Year
    and in particular what decisions are being made by Sokratis and Ozil.

  4. Graham62

    How can you go to church each week and then end up voting for Trump?

    One of the crazy things about the States is that every other building is a church of some sorts and every other TV station is selling you religion.

    What does that say about the great US of A?

  5. Luteo Guenreira

    “If the educated vs country folks argument stands, it follows c.70% of US white male aren’t that educated!?”

    It means that most of those white guys went to college and spent all their time drinking beer with other white guys.

  6. Graham62

    To our American posters, just saying it as it is.

    Don’t take it personally.

    We’re fcuked up over here but not quite as much.

  7. Graham62

    Religion is free and a choice.

    In the States, you pay for the privilege.

    Most of the priests are raking it in.

    Should be renamed The Gullible States of America.

  8. Graham62

    By the way, I love visiting the States.

    The most advanced and yet, at the same time, the most backward country on this planet.

  9. Sid

    Religion is big business just like football. Our supreme leader on le grove is the equivalent of John Hagee for religion.
    Spirituality is a different thing.

  10. Luteo Guenreira

    Why is it a surprise to anyone that a president who denies science is popular with churchgoers? Science has been a nemesis of the church as far as the church has existed. It’s an expected result to be honest.

    The current US is a prime example that even though we have lots of technological and scientific advances as a society compared to whatever point in history you want to use as comparison, people still largely remain simple and fragile and extremely susceptible to fearmongering. The human psyche still remains one that makes its conclusions based on fear more than anything else.

    It’s not just the US though, all those attacks in France are another example. You tell people who have a limited scope of the world that anything outside of their scope is dangerous, and chances are they will believe it.

    People flock to guns and violence because they’re scared, not because they’re tough. Trigger happy police officers included.

  11. Useroz

    Other than the two goals in a 2019/20 Europa game, Pepe’s goals generally weren’t game changing.

    He added a goal when it’s 2 – 1 up. That’s good and put the game beyond Molde practically but am sure we’d appreciate his contribution much more if he equalised and/or got us the lead. At least that’s what fans would expect of a £72m player.

    Time to adapt, confidence etc ‘reasons’ would only go ao far and for so long. Again, at a £72m fee, Pepe can’t really blame the fans for lacking patience.

    Though erratic in my view, a quoted £25m loanee in Ceballos also from a different league manages to perform to an extent with some consistency and highlights having joined at the same time.

    At this rate,, Pepe would be declared a dud by end of season. Pires who joined fron Ligue 1 some argued took time to adapt before he excelled. The difference is, Pires did command the same fee level, time adjusted, and the struggle was quite clear for Pites that he wasn’t string enough and got bullied. Not sure Pepe’s case is that straightforward unfortunately.

  12. SuperRob

    A ‘gunt’ is what you find on extremely obese women it’s where their gut is that big and over hanging it blends in to their cunt.

    Have you seen the gunt on that?

    Gunt of sf is a whiny American with a hard on for DT.

  13. Useroz

    Szoboszlai is good enough for me.

    YT clips aside, started watching some of RBL games and am impressed with what’s on display especially in recent Europe games.

    Szoboszlai is kinda our dream, ideal version of ESR but one who has the build, more pace, better dribbling, more consistent passing range and importantly can shoot from anyway around/in the box! Also appears to be able to spend more time on the pitch than sick bench.

    If really at €25 to 30m range buyout it’s a steal even in. Covid market for a 19yo. Edu is reportedly onto it and Szoboszlai’s agent confirmed Arsenal interest. Let’s see.

    Well, all is cool as long as Arteta doesn’t insist on a transitional year for the 19yo Szoboszlai who isn’t already playing in the PL….

    In fact, I’d be concerned if Aouar could walk straight into our starting line up given he’s from Ligue 1, has a slight built,, like a midget, and relatively young. Though from different leagues, Szoboszlai has much better stats than Aouar. With finance a premium and thrhe pkayers’ attributes, i’d rather bet on Szoboszlai.

    Edu – just get him in Jan and i think top 4 isn’t a dream at all.

  14. Useroz

    Super thats gross. Seen some on YT unfortunately… like it took 6 to 8 strong men to get him off the ‘bed’ (i’d say ,stage) in order to transport him to a hospital visit. Sorry scenes really.

  15. Useroz

    Btw, RB Salz sold Haaland and Minamino last January too at rather modest fees.

    Hopefully no smoke without fire and Edu can pull it off in Jan.

    With Szoboszlai’s performance this season, i’d think competition will be much higher in the summer TW. Grab him asap.

  16. Pierre

    Before Arsenal even consider buying players like szoboszlai, there must be discussion on whether Arteta is willing to change his system to include another offensive player…

    Even in the last window, the signings of Mari and Cedric and possibly even Willian could be signings that were not needed due to the fact that Gabriel was brought in and AMN is more than capable of playing at right full/wing back..

    The signings of Partey and Gabriel ànd the return of Elneny have given the team a backbone at last.

    The previous summer window we bought Pepe apparently against the manager’s wishes and this is the type of signing we should guard against .

    A creative players needs the trust of his manager and then he will perform to his potential…Pepe has never had that from any Arsenal manager since he arrived at the club.

    An example is James Rodriguez, he was written off but he has found a manager who understands him and let’s him play the game the way he knows, and so far he has been outstanding .
    I put his situation as similar to Ozil, both are very similar players and both were written off because they didn’t fit into the style of football, James is showing that there is still a place in the game for a player of his ilk.

    I’m hoping that in the future Arteta will tweak the system as he did in the 2nd half v Molde to allow willock and Ceballos more freedom to attack..

    I do expect another low scoring game v villa as villa will not want be so open at the back and i doubt if Arsenal will over commit, it’s a game that will be similar to our game v Leicester and will be decided on fine margins..

    Partey and Elneny must start , it is vital we continue to control the midfield as we did v united.

  17. Northbanker

    One point on Pepe is that our fitness/ strength guys really need to work on his build. His legs are like matchsticks and that must be detrimental. To make it in the Prem he needs to put on another 2 /3 stone of muscle and get those legs built up. Then I think we would have a player

  18. Nelson

    I would like to see Saka, Eddie, Willock and Gabriel Martinelli to be out front 4 in two years time. They all need to gain at least 5 more lbs and be stronger physically.

  19. Champagne charlie

    If anyone needed further convincing Souness and his ilk are stuck in the past just read his rationale for some of today’s managerial issues:

    “That’s why I stopped being a manager a long time ago, you can’t demand it from them anymore. Instead, you’re asking them. I think at the end of every sentence you end up having to say ‘Please’ today. ‘Please can you run a bit harder… please can you be more aggressive… please can you give everything’.

    “They were givens, and that should be a given! You’re at a big football club at United, you never play easy games, every game you play is a cup final for the opposition. From the outside looking in, a lot of them are in their armchairs, looking to blame other people.”

  20. Matt

    Pepe is not going to make it at this club. His build is less of a concern for me. You can put on muscle. My bigger concern is his personality. I wouldn’t even say attitude because i don’t think he’s lazy but he just doesn’t look like he has any sort of aggression in him which I think you need. Even when he scores he looks almost apologetic or embarrassed half the time. He is an impact player at best and even then, I think he will impact less and less games. Can any ok me honestly see him being a permanent fixture in this team playing 79 minutes plus week in week out? It is never going to happen. Yes he will score some goals and provide some assists, but I would put good money on it that he’s gone in a couple of years for probably half what we paid.

  21. Al


    Difference between Ozil and James Rodriguez is one of these guys actually has an interest in still playing football.

    There is always value to be had when a player is willing to take a hit financially and take a step down in order to still play football.

  22. Chris

    Souness had to ask what a low block was not long ago when he became irritated by Alex Scott’s mere presence in the studio. I mean why isn’t she back at home in the kitchen anyway?

  23. Marc

    Sky want and always have wanted a dominant ManU and Liverpool. If you look at the current ManU squad and Manager and you’re honest:

    OGS – at best an average manager

    Squad – a real shambles or a handful of good players with lots of overvalued, overpaid players who range from being talented with a bad mentality to just not very good.

    To correct that is huge job that’ll take several years to accomplish – Sky can’t have that it doesn’t make for good TV viewing easier to just have a gobby soundbite.

  24. Northbanker

    ok I probably over-egged the total muscle gain but rather than get fixated on the quantum you hopefully get the drift. The guy seriously needs to put girth on his thighs and calves (without neglecting upper body strength) to become a stronger player. And on the point of attitude, well if he has the mindset to do that, nagged or otherwise, then he will have the attitude to perform

  25. Northbanker

    Strength or lack of is part of the Pepe issue, the other part is that playing as an inverted winger with such a poor right foot will simply not work.

  26. Tom

    Pepe might not be able to bulk up without looking top heavy. Some guys are limited by their genetic make up and can’t bulk up their legs.
    Evander Hollyfield had an upper body of a heavyweight stuck atop the waist and legs of a middleweight.
    A top heavy footballer is not something that’s particularly desirable.

    Mahrez is also lightweight and no one is crying out for him to bulk up.

  27. Pierre

    “Difference between Ozil and James Rodriguez is one of these guys actually has an interest in still playing football.”

    I was talking about their Style of play and how it shows that there is still room in the modern game for this type of player.

    Which of course you knew, but you thought you’d be clever by bringing up a point that isn’t even correct as Ozil has played more games thañ james in the last 2 seasons, but that would be just plain stupid for me to think that Ozil has more interest in playing football than james because he has played more games.

    Ancelotti ( unlike zz) has shown trust in James and is being rewarded.
    Who knows jose( unlike zz) has shown trust in Bale and maybe he will be rewarded.

    Bale and James ( as well as Ozil) have often been accused of not being interested in playing football, what i find strange is that it’s only the top class players who get accused of this , never run of the mill players.

    The reality is , manager’s prefer a certain type of player to others, and if their face doesn’t fit for whatever reason , then they are left to rot until a manaģer like Ancelotti or Jose comes along..

  28. Gooner joe


    Pogba has been low-energy and poor in the PL. Mata has been high-energy and reliable this season. That’s why OGS has selected Mata and not Pogba. In some ways, Pogba is United’s Ozil.

  29. Radio Raheem

    Pogba is shit most times I’d have any of our central midfielders over him. He might be the most talented midfielder in the league but a bit like Pepe he lacks (consistent) application.

  30. GS88

    Ole’s time surely coming to an end?

    But if Utd get their managerial oppointment right, for example Poch or even Nagelsmann, then it could be trouble for us all again.

    Best hope they continue to mess up the in this department.

    As I write this I see Bruno has equalised 1-1.

  31. Kaz

    Edu wanted Partey. Edu wants Szoboszlai.

    I think it’s fair to say he reads Le Grove and has been following mine and Freddie’s player recommendations 😁

  32. GS88

    Yeah we need a line breaker. Maybe even two. Dominic Szo would be a brilliant signing.

    Think that Aouar is going to RM, so he’s off the radar now.

  33. Champagne charlie

    Everton are vacant ahead of their CB pairing. That’s twice a player has moved from 20 yards out, to 8 yards out and been covered by nobody.

    Who is their defensive midfielder? Because he isn’t.

  34. Nelson

    Ole is more serious this game. Normally, he is just relax sitting there and day dream. This time, he stands on the sideline and very much involved mentally.

  35. Useroz

    Both Edu and Arteta have publicly say something to the effect that they communicate over potential new signings etc.

    So if Edu is really making an approach to Szoboszlai safe to assume Arteta has been consulted and both in agreement.

    And Vinai (+CFO) would have sorted the finance side of things.

    Even with the new found partnership , assuming it works out, of Partey and Elneny, there still little potency in the final third. Almost a trial and error approach. We sorely miss that attacking MF or creator player as much as the Partey MF signing.

    Ozil came close but that’s 2 /3 season ago …

  36. Marc

    Strangely a win for ManU isn’t a bad thing – unlikely they’d sack OGS after a win and it’d be a good time to replace a manager going into an international break.

  37. Marc

    I haven’t seen Szoboszlai play but my default position is to back who the managerial team in the players they go for.

    What I will say is if we were to get him in Jan it tells me 2 really positive things – the club is being intelligent in it’s transfer planning activating a release clause before the summer when other teams could be in for him as well and the Kroenke’s are backing the club financially.

  38. Muppetman

    Maguire had a little push on pickford before the challenge though? Still stupid. Also this play after the whistle means you can basically assault someone without punishment lol

  39. Graham62

    Mike Dean is an absolute disgrace.

    VAR has to be suspended until the fit and proper persons are in control.

    A total farce.