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Have we spotted the new Ramsey?

OPINION: Joe Willock has shown Arsenal fans that pre-season is about more than just hot dogs, Gunnersaurus and 'first matches'

01 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley

THE Emirates Cup is a good taster session for children who might, no doubt at the insistence of their mums and dads, be interested in becoming football fans.

With tickets easier to come by, hundreds of parents have used this meaningless festival fixture as an opportunity to bring the kids to their “first match”.

I took my girl a few years ago – she said she liked the sprinkler system on the pitch (“dancing fountains”), that a hot dog was OK and Gunnersaurus was all right, if a little one-paced with his routine.

The match itself was adjudged to be boring, and it was hard not to argue with her. She hasn’t returned since, and now says she likes Little Mix instead.

The Emirates Cup, however, attracts another type of fan, a wiser and proudly devoted kind of supporter: the self-anointed “spotter”.

These are the guys, probably with overactive Twitter accounts and a memory of sitting in the East Stand at the old Highbury, who will tell you with studied certainty who is going to be “good one day” and who sadly isn’t going to make it.

This pre-season tournament is their paradise. Over the years, we have heard that Yaya Sanogo was going to set the Premier League on fire after scoring against Benfica. Jeff Reine-Adelaide was to be the next big thing after a starring Emirates Cup role against a half-hearted Wolfsberg. One of the opponents that day, Kevin De Bruyne, didn’t seem much bothered, but it appears to have worked out well for him in the long run.

We got excited for Fran Merida, a rare talent. And Joel Campbell, he’s going to be big. And even Emmanuel Frimpong, the new Vieira. It was all going to be so good.

In that deflating, never-happened vein, then, we must hope the same fate does not fall upon Joe Willock, who looked on the evidence of one game against Lyon ready to, whisper it, succeed Aaron Ramsey. A tidy, forward-looking player, the 19-year-old was hailed as a made-one-ourselves answer to Arsenal’s apparent financial restraints.

Yes, the spotters have decided Willock is the one. Let’s hope it’s for real this time.


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