That wasn’t to be the case though, with Brighton arriving at the Emirates Stadium full of confidence after giving Liverpool a real scare at Anfield last time out. The Gunners made three changes, but Ljungberg kept faith in Joe Willock in the heart of midfield.
The young Arsenal star found it hard to get involved in the game, and most of the creativity came from Mesut Ozil in a wider role in the first half.
Many Arsenal fans took to Twitter to slam the 20-year-old for his performance, and the lack of impact he had in the middle of the park while his side struggled to gain control of the game.
Here is a selection of the Tweets:
I forgot Willock was even on the pitch ?
— Moose (@MasonTillIDie) December 5, 2019
Willock non existent again, don't care if it's been 10 minutes. Take him off
— ? (@NShabadenaya) December 5, 2019
— leto (@Rassoul_G) December 5, 2019
Willock is so overrated…
— Arsenvicky (@steelvicky) December 5, 2019
Willock has been absolutely shocking these past few matches. Not sure he deserves to be starting anymore. #ARSBHA
— Lou ? (@ArsenaLouu) December 5, 2019
Ljungberg’s early faith in Willock has not gone unnoticed, with the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Nicolas Pepe being left on the bench on Thursday.
The midfielder needs to be doing much more in games if he is to start gaining more recognition. The youngster has only averaged a single shot on goal every two games he has played this season [WhoScored] – nowhere near good enough if he is to cement his spot in attacking midfield.
Some fans questioned what was being seen in Willock, claiming now was the right time to take him out of the firing line and place him back on the bench.
joe willock should not be stating for arsenal periodtt
— Juanxsibiya (@southxboi) December 5, 2019
Willock is talented and all, but not as a starter #ARSBHA
— Ziphozonke (@ZiphoBandile) December 5, 2019
Joe Willock is just galloping all over the pitch. He really shouldn't be on the pitch.#ARSBHA
— Austin I. Jnr. (@AustyNe23) December 5, 2019
Joe Willock has so much potential and will probably be a top player someday, but he is absolutely not good enough to start for Arsenal in the prem right now
— Chet Manley (@J_richards4) December 5, 2019
The Gunners went into half time losing with the score at 0-1, and Willock couldn’t seem to get anything right at all. Ljungberg will want to keep his confidence high, but there is no escaping the fans when you aren’t playing well, and at this moment there is no hiding from the angry Arsenal fan base.
Willock is poor man, bare lazy too
— # (@Granite_Xhaka) December 5, 2019
Is Willock hiding out there? Been completely missing
— gxz?? (@Gezza_Ayy) December 5, 2019
Willock having another stinker I'm sensing!
— Kim Jong-Seun (@sisonkehlophe) December 5, 2019