Newcastle vs Arsenal: Joe Willock’s key role ‘great for development’, says Mikel Arteta

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Malik Ouzia
·2-min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta says allowing Joe Willock to leave Arsenal on loan in January was a “difficult decision” but believes the crucial role he has played in Newcastle’s survival push is “great for his development”.

Willock is ineligible to feature against his parent club in Sunday’s Premier League clash, and that his absence will be keenly felt by the Toon is testament to the impact he has made at St. James’ Park.

The Hale End academy graduate has scored four times in ten games, including the winner against West Ham and late equalisers against Tottenham and Liverpool, as Steve Bruce’s side have climbed well clear of the drop.

With Arsenal having struggled for goals from midfield all season, there have been questions as to why the 21-year-old was allowed to leave in the first place, but Arteta defended the move.

“It was a difficult decision to let him go because we really like the player, but he needed more game-time and needed this type of experience,” he told Premier League Productions. “He has stepped in at big moments for them and scored some crucial goals so that is really good news because it is great for his development.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“He is a real threat in the opponent’s box, physically he can do anything you ask for and has got the right mentality, is good technically and he is English.

“We knew all this but he needed game time, he needed to expose himself away from our environment and we believe as well that Newcastle, Steve and his staff is the right place for him to do that.”

When asked whether Willock’s form could see him play a bigger role upon his return to north London at the end of the season, Arteta added: “He has a chance.

“He is a player we really like so at the end of the season he will come back here and then we will make the decision again for what is best to move forward.”

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