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“Technically strong” – Why Arsenal youngster has made rapid progress in the last 12 months

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After getting himself on the score sheet during Arsenal’s 4-0 win against Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday, Joe Willock has proved once again what a massive future he has at Arsenal and that he can bring a different dimension to the side as a box-to-box midfielder.

Willock, 20, has been at the club since he was 4 and a half and has played at every level of the England set-up, currently playing for the U20s. He is typically a central midfielder but is also capable of playing on the right. His passing and pressing are two of his key assets, illustrated by the youngster accumulating a 95% pass success rate against Standard Liege.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has praised the 20-year-old for his eye-catching performances, particularly during pre-season last summer. He described the England U20 international as “technically strong” and admired his confidence as well as his ability.

The Englishman made his debut for Arsenal against Newcastle United in 2018 and has scored six goals in 26 games for the first team, becoming an integral part of the first-team but with still a lot to learn.

Willock has also illustrated how humble he is at such a young age. After scoring his first brace for the club during Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Blackpool in the FA Cup. Willock spoke to Press Association (quoted via Sportsmole) after the game, “my dad has just been football crazy since we were very young,” said Willock. “He used to take us to the park before training and after training. It has been hard work.

“Growing up he was the only person I ever cared about commenting on one of my matches. I will go home now and if he has said I’ve played bad I don’t listen to anyone else except my dad because he has always guided me in the right way.”

With Willock now firmly part of Unai Emery’s plan, it will be the 20-year-old’s responsibility to keep focused on the job in hand.

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