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Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Joel Lopez: Profile

Name: Joel Lopez

Date of birth: Mar 31, 2002

Nationality: Spain

Position: Left-back

Height: 1.79m

Joel Lopez: Introduction

Arsenal have had a habit of nicking young Spaniards from the Barcelona youth academy and the next in the line is full back Joel Lopez. Highly rated and yet still raw, Arsenal believe they’ve got a star in the making in the youth academy who, at just 18 years of age, is already playing in the most senior level of the youth system.

Joel Lopez: Background

Joel Lopez came through the Barcelona youth academy joining at the age of 9. He like a couple of other famous Spaniards have since left Catalonia, instead choosing to follow a path through North London.

Whilst Barcelona were supposedly keen to keep the full-back and there was reported interest from outside of Spain, Arsenal were the team which managed to snap up the youngster.

‘The day has come to say goodbye to what has been my home for the last 7 years. Thanks to FCBarcelona, it will be the club that always carries in my heart the wonderful moments that I have lived with my Colleagues, Physios, Coaches, Delegates, Executives. Magnificent people who have made me feel welcomed from day one.

It has been a difficult decision but after contemplating it with my family, I have made the decision to leave and start a new stage as a footballer with great enthusiasm. Thanks to all of you who have always been there,’ he wrote on social media upon departing from Barcelona.

 

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A post shared by Joel López (@joellopez.5)

Lopez arrived at just 16 years of age but by 18 was already playing in the under-23 squad and included in Arsenal’s Europa League group on a number of occasions under Unai Emery.

He has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas, taking the move from La Masia to London Colney. He has much to learn still, but could see opportunity in the first team having already trained with the squad on a number of occasions, and the club currently light in his department ahead of the 2021 summer window.

 

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A post shared by Joel López (@joellopez.5)

Expert insight on Joel Lopez

101 spoke to Next Generation Arsenal an expert on all things youth football surrounding the club.

‘Joel Lopez is a player who has carried the weight of expectation for the majority of his time at the club. Following the blueprint of the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin isn’t easy, however Lopez is now in the position where a few first team injuries could elevate him into the picture.

Is he ready? His performances in the U23s this season have seen some adversity but also some hopeful displays. The biggest issue Joel faced was finding some consistency, he’s struggled with injuries and the physical side of the game in general.

In terms of technical ability, his strengths are clear. He’s always graceful in possession and can move well with the ball at pace. The Spaniard is always keen to get forward and make an impact in the final third and he’s shown quality in his final ball.

Defending does not always come easy to the 18-year-old. Positioning and 1-1 duels have often seen Lopez leaving a lot to be desired. It’s clear he needs more experience in the PL2 to further his development, it would be a big risk to play him in the first team currently, but one that could go either way.’

Tactical Overview of Joel Lopez

The modern iteration of a full-back in football has changed in comparison to its predecessor. Previously it was a more a defensive minded position but the last couple of decades has seen the role evolved into a more attacking concept on the field providing additional width for offensive plays.

The reason for this mention is that specifically Lopez is a player that encapsulates that focus on offensive play. The Spaniard likes to be up and down the wings and creating opportunities for his teammates in the form of crosses, through balls and attacking runs.

An ambitious player, but one still certainly developing and refining his skills. Crossing has become a key part of the senior side at Arsenal and an attribute Lopez is trying to integrate more into his game.

Lopez arks a ball over the defence and onto the incoming Folarin Balogun. The looping cross means that the forward can run into position with enough time to control the ball whilst still bypassing opposition players.

Lopez arks a ball over the defence and onto the incoming Folarin Balogun. The looping cross means that the forward can run into position with enough time to control the ball whilst still bypassing opposition players.

In this example, Lopez drives a low driven cross between the defensive lines in an attempt to find one of his forwards to latch onto the blind cross. This could be where arguably Lopez needs to be more measured in his decision making.

In this example, Lopez drives a low driven cross between the defensive lines in an attempt to find one of his forwards to latch onto the blind ball. This could be where arguably Lopez needs to be more measured in his decision making.

Whilst progressing forwards with the ball in possession, Lopez does tend to try and find through balls and pockets of space where he can play passes into his teammates to run on to.

Cutting inside, and running across the face of the box, Lopez sees the run into the box from his teammate and slipped the ball between the two defenders opening up an opportunity.

Cutting inside, and running across the face of the box, Lopez sees the run into the box from his teammate and slips the ball between the two defenders opening up an opportunity.

Lopez sports the run of Emile Smith Rowe and plays the ball between the defenders for the England youth International to run on to.

Lopez spots the run of Emile Smith-Rowe and plays the ball between the defenders for the England youth international to run on to.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

This time Emile Smith-Rowe is coming from a central position and Lopez slips the ball in behind the two defenders for the 20-year-old to latch onto in a crossing position.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

This final example shows again the foresight of lopes to spot the space for Taylor-Hart who has made and dancing run between the defenders and the Spaniard slips him in behind.

One of the key criticisms of Lopez by Next Generation Arsenal was regarding the full-back’s defensive capabilities. Yes, he does need to improve his positioning and consistency as a defender but there are examples where glimmers of hope shine through and potential can be seen hence why Arsenal rate the Spaniard so highly.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Playing against Manchester United’s youth side, Lopez spots the pass being played out to the right for United’s Neville to run on to.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Sensibly, Lopez shows Neville onto his left foot and away from the goal.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

When Neville attempts to twist and turn away from Lopez, the Spaniard excellently tackles the United player and comes away with the ball.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Now in possession, Lopez doesn’t waste it and plays the ball inside which culminates in a chance at the other end of the pitch for Arsenal.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

In the EFL trophy against lower division side Crawley, the ball is slipped between the Arsenal defence. Lopez recognises the danger and closes down the opponent.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Lopez understands that he needs to force the opposition player further to the left and away from the goal to making any chance of shooting much more difficult.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Having done so, Lopez now looks to intercept and block any type of shot and manages to do this with an expertly performed sliding challenge.

There is no doubt that Lopez is still a young player with very much to learn in the game but there are certainly promising signs from the Spaniard that he could have a future in the Arsenal first team. And if not, Arsenal will have a strong sellable asset on their hands which they could look to sell in future transfer windows.

Joel Lopez: Social sites

 

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A post shared by Joel López (@joellopez.5)

 

 

 


This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.

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