The arrival of Unai Emery at Arsenal heralded a new era of detailed analysis and video sessions for many of Arsenal’s players, but not for Joe Willock. The 19-year-old midfielder has grown used to such an approach over the years thanks to the guiding presence of his influential father, Charles.
Willock, who scored two goals in a wonderful display against Blackpool on Saturday, is one of three footballing brothers. He is the youngest, behind Chris, who left Arsenal for Benfica in 2017, and Matty, who is on the books of Manchester United. All three have been helped by their father, who has not stopped analysing his sons since they turned professional.
Charles even has a subscription to Wyscout, a platform that provides digital information and analysis to more than 1,000 clubs, which allows him to track his sons’ matches.
“He looks at all our games and every individual clip over and over again,” said Joe after Arsenal’s straightforward win at Bloomfield Road, when he struck twice in the first half before Alex Iwobi added a late third. “Growing up, he was the only person I cared about commentating on one of my matches. I will go home now and if he has said I’ve played badly I don’t really listen to anyone else.”
The win over Blackpool was Willock’s third appearance under Emery. He scored in their Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava in November, and looks the most likely of the academy products to break into the first team this season. His progress is a reflection of his talent, but it also underlines the benefits of growing up in a competitive environment alongside his older brothers.
“My dad has just been football crazy since we were very young,” said Willock, one of four academy products in the Arsenal attack on Saturday, alongside Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Iwobi.
“We are always pushing each other on. When we were younger we had a dream together and we are just trying to fulfil it.
“My mum and dad gave up their jobs and we went through a period where we didn’t have any money because we had to go to football and my mum and dad couldn’t work all the time. They have made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I am just trying to repay them.”