Keown says Willock may struggle for regular game time at Arsenal

‘He’s maturing nicely… if he’s not getting the chances, is he going to have to go on loan?’: Arsenal legend Martin Keown says Joe Willock may struggle for regular game time despite impressing in the Europa League

Arsenal legend Martin Keown says Joe Willock may need to go out on loan to gain regular game time after another impressive display in the Europa League.

The 21-year-old midfielder played a key part in the Gunners’ 4-1 victory over Molde on Thursday night.

Willock had a point to prove after being left out of the squad for the 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday.

Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock (above) has impressed in the Europa League this season

And Keown says he may struggle to break the midfield partnership of Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey. 

He told BT Sport: ‘He wants to make the difference, he’s got great technique and drive and they need to make use of that for the first time.

‘He’s finding the extra gears and he’s maturing nicely. If he’s not getting the chances, is he going to have to go on loan? We don’t know. He’s going to let the manager decide.

‘The shape – they now want to play two, Elneny and Partey in that five. If he wants a third player Willock has to come into his thinking. He’s got to be one of the first on the list to put those two under pressure.

Joe Willock had a point to prove after missing the 1-0 win at Manchester United on Sunday

‘We have to work out a pathway for him to get in that first-team, if he has to go on loan – he’s not far away from getting it right.’

Owen Hargreaves added: ‘Willock was by far the best player in the game, he’s always trying to affect the game, he’s always on the move.

‘Every time I watch this kid play he plays great. His overall game, his athleticism driving from midfield, this young man can affect games. (Desire to force own goal for equaliser) I love that from a young player.

‘He’s got a lot of top players in there so when there’s a chance he gets him in. He’s producing when he gets a chance, he just needs a few more chances and he’s earned that.

Martin Keown says midfielder Willock may need to go out on loan to gain regular game

‘We saw it with Sancho at Manchester City, it’s hard for young kids to get games, even Phil Foden is having to work round De Bruyne. I think back to Philip Lahm and David Alaba at Bayern Munich, they went on two-year loans. You might see that from these kids. Right now it feels like they could play more but they have a world class team, Mesu Ozil is at home.’

Martin Ellingsen’s long-range effort gave the reigning Eliteserien champions a shock lead against a slow-starting Arsenal side which showed nine changes from the weekend win at Manchester United. 

Another huge slice of luck saw Arsenal hit the front as Molde scored another own goal just after the hour mark – half-time substitute Sinyan only able to direct a Willock cross past Linde.

The game was wrapped up with a little over 20 minutes remaining as Pepe swept home at the end of a fine move started by man of the match Willock, with substitute Bukayo Saka crossing for the Ivory Coast winger to strike. 

Mikel Arteta urged Willock to be patient after inspiring victory over Molde on Thursday night

Arteta said: ‘He could have scored more, he created a few goals as well – he had a really good performance. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing consistently and his time will arrive.’

Luiz, who was interviewed while Willock is stood near him just out of camera shot, joked: ‘He has to do better, that’s it. I’m never impressed with him! 

‘He missed when I assisted him, he missed the goal!’

Luiz then added: ‘Joe is a fantastic kid, I’m always behind him. He could do better, I joke with him because he has the talent to be top level. 

‘He can learn things, get better and improve. He’s humble and for sure he has a great presence and great future.’




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