Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said that Joe Willock could earn his place back in the team next season. Willock is currently on loan at Newcastle United, having joined the club in January for the remainder of the season.
The Gunners escaped a humiliating defeat to Fulham in the Premier League at the weekend, thanks to a very late equaliser from Eddie Nketiah. Josh Maja put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot in the 59th minute, after Gabriel’s foul on Mario Lemina. Arsenal were guilty of missing some big chances but they were saved by Nketiah’s 97th-minute equaliser.
The draw meant that Arsenal remain ninth in the league table. But Leeds United might overtake them if they manage to beat Liverpool on Monday.
Arsenal are next in action against Everton at the Emirates, before facing their former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Willock’s successful Newcastle loan
Joe Willock struggled to get into Mikel Arteta’s plan at the start of the season for Arsenal. He sparingly featured in the cup competitions and the Europa League, but never really broke into the first team. This prompted the club to send him on-loan to Newcastle in January. And the Englishman has put up some impressive performances for the Magpies since then.
Willock first scored a late equaliser against Arsenal’s arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. And at the weekend, he scored the winner as Newcastle beat West Ham United 3-2 in the Premier League. Both the goals he scored when he came on as a substitute.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce wants to keep Willock at St. James Park but admitted it may not be possible. He said after the game:
“We would love to keep him here. He is the type of player you’d love to build your club around. Whether we can or not I’m not quite sure.”
Arteta on Willock’ Arsenal future:
Mikel Arteta gave a hint about Willock’s future at the Emirates and lauded him for scoring for Newcastle. He spoke to Sky Sports after the Fulham game and said:
“Yeah, I’m really happy with Joe because he scored a massive goal for the club. So, when he produces big moments like that, it’s very satisfying. Joe can do it. He’s got the ability and the desire and now he’s having more consistency in terms of minutes and the performances and that’s great for his development. That’s why we all believed it was the right thing for him to go on-loan.”
Willock was very happy after scoring against West Ham. He was happy with his contribution to the team. Willock’s goal was crucial in Newcastle’s survival to avoid the drop. He said after the game:
“I feel collectively we have grown. Through the hard times, we decided we have to stick together. That’s what we are trying to do and I am happy to help the team again. I thought the boys played well. I was happy to come on. My first touch was a bit rusty, you get rusty sitting on the bench for 70 minutes. I was happy though as I have been working on my heading. So I was happy it paid off today.”