Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday with a trip to newly-promoted Leeds, but will do so with a couple of absences in midfield.
Gunners midfielder Thomas Partey won’t be available for the game at Elland Road as he’s still recovering from a thigh strain, while Mohamed Elneny is self-isolating.
While both players will be missed, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta now has the perfect opportunity to give Joe Willock a spot in the starting XI against Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
The 21-year-old has impressed in what limited game time he’s had this season, in particular against Dundalk and Molde in the Europa League.
In both games, Willock registered a goal and an assist apiece, whilst also proving a constant thorn in the opponents’ side with his excellent movement and energy.
After the win over Dundalk, Willock spoke of his discussion with Arteta over his hopes of more minutes, and the manager gave his response ahead of the Europa League meeting with Molde.
“I told my message to Joe,” Arteta told the Arsenal media team. “We considered a few options for him but he’s a player I really like.
“He has some special qualities that only he has in this squad, and that we have to use.
“I think you could see the last game he showed what he can do, to play in those pockets and to make runs into certain areas.
“He’s got the ability to make the box, his physicality and he’s grown in his understanding of the game and areas where he needs to be involved to affect the game.”
With that in mind, Willock could be a great shout for the No. 10 role in a 4-2-3-1, as was the case against Molde, or potentially alongside Granit Xhaka in a 3-4-3.
Leeds have a tendency to vacate the centre, with Bielsa often pulling his midfielders out to the flanks and instructing them to charge forward at will.
Therefore, someone like Willock, who can make great progressive runs from deeper positions, connect midfield to attack superbly and match the opposition’s energy, could serve Arteta very well.