Arsenal loanee has ‘weight off his shoulders’ after impressive debut

Date published: Friday 12th February 2021 3:43 - Dan Burnham

Arsenal loanee Joe Willock has expressed his relief after scoring on his debut for Newcastle.

The midfielder netted the opening goal in the 3-2 win against Southampton last Saturday.

He made the move to the north east on deadline day, joining the Magpies until the end of the season.

The 21-year-old made only 16 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this season. He was therefore delighted with first outing at St James’ Park.

“It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders when the (final) whistle went,” Willock told Sky Sports.

“I wanted to make a good start, I wanted to score, I wanted to get the three points and when the whistle went, I knew I’d done that.

“It’s a starting point for me to push on, I wanted to set a good foundation and I was so happy when he blew the whistle and I’ve set that foundation. Now I want to push on and hopefully build on it.”

Academy graduate Willock signed a new contract at Arsenal in 2019 which runs until the end of 2022/23 season.

He has shown glimpses of his potential in a red-and-white shirt. He started four of the Europa League group stage games this season, recording three goals and three assists.

The England under-21 international is keen to build on his quick start now that he has an opportunity to impress.


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He said: “I’m here to help the team in any which way they want me to. When I came in, I wanted to help the team have that bit of pace in midfield, travel from one box to the other quicker and get it to the front men quicker, and arrive in the box and score goals like I did, so I feel I can add that to the team and hopefully it continues.

“I’m trying to focus on what I have to do now, focus on Newcastle United – I’m not really looking at Arsenal at the moment.

“I’m here to prove to Newcastle United that I can play every week and affect the games and win games for them.”

Newcastle’s lengthy injury list leaves the door open for Willock to clock up the minutes for the rest of the campaign. The latest addition is striker Callum Wilson, who has been ruled out for two months with a leg injury.

Willock provides boost for Bruce

This will be a concern for manager Steve Bruce. Wilson has scored 40% of the side’s Premier League goals this season.

Willock is one of the players Bruce will need to fill the goalscoring void, and the 60-year-old was impressed with his first appearance.

He said: “The one thing you want to do is play well on your debut and arriving in the box like he did.

“It was a great piece of skill from Allan [Saint-Maximin] to get to the by-line and pick him out. It was a classic midfield player’s goal from the ability to arrive in the box, and that’s what he’s brought us.

“He can go box-to-box, he’s a terrific athlete, the kid, a typical modern-day midfield player who has the ability to get up and down the pitch quickly and has that added ability to score a goal.

“I’m delighted because when a new signing walks through the door, we were thinking, ‘Do we just put him on the bench this week?’, and then we thought, ‘We’ve brought him here to play, let the kid go and play’.”

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