This summer saw a significant change in the setup of Arsenal’s coaching staff, with club legend and former U23’s boss Freddie Ljungberg moving into an assistant manager role while Steve Bould moves down to manage the academy alongside Per Mertesacker.
The changes were made to promote the pathway from the academy to the first team, as a lack of opportunities has led many English youngsters, including Chris Willock, to moving abroad in search of first-team football. The move has been positive so far with several academy prospects seeing game time for the Gunners this summer.
One player that has taken his opportunities with both hands is Joe Willock, who has been simply sensational for Arsenal during pre-season. The 19-year-old played in all of the club’s pre-season games this summer, scoring once and putting on some impressive performances.
Willock saw his game time limited last season, being restricted to appearances in the cup competitions. However, he regularly featured for the Arsenal under-23 team scoring six goals and assisting two in 12 appearances. The youngster saw a short cameo at the end of last season’s humiliating Europa League final defeat to Chelsea, and his performance led to calls for him to see more game time this season.
Willock looked at home against the top teams this summer, but he has one glaring flaw to his game – his finishing. Most recently in the match against Lyon, he continued his fine form by ghosting past players regularly and creating chances for others, however, he had a few clear cut chances and struggled to make anything of them.
Other than his finishing woes, Willock looks like a real talent who could make some major waves at the Emirates this season. With Lucas Torreira only recently returning from holiday and new signing Dani Ceballos the same, we could see the youngster in a starting berth for the opening game against Newcastle.