Everyone knew the news was coming, but it was still a damming statement when it was made official that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would not be a part of the Europa League squad.
Due to political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Arsenal’s number seven won’t be a part of the biggest game of the club’s season in a final that the Gunners simply have to win and that has been marred by controversy before a ball has even been kicked, but the absence of Mkhitaryan does open up one silver lining.
With the winger no longer in the team, it now opens up a spot in the squad for another player to step out of the shadow and emerge as an unexpected hero in the Gunners most important match in years, and for youngster Joe Willock, he could be the man to fill that role.
The Hale End academy product has impressed whenever he has been given a chance in the starting XI, scoring three goals already this season for the first-team and playing in the final game of the Premier League campaign against Burnley, and Willock could make an impact in the final for Arsenal.
Coming off the bench, the midfielder has the ability to both create chances and score goals having scored 12 and assisted another two this season for both the senior and youth teams, and against tired legs, Willock’s pace will make him a menace to deal with in the final 15 minutes of the match.
Mkhitaryan’s absence from the final is a great injustice put upon the team by UEFA, but it opens a door for another player to become the star, and Willock could be that man.
Arsenal fans, can Willock make an impact in the final? Let us know!
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