Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock detailed his talks with manager Mikel Arteta regarding his role this season ahead of tomorrow night’s Europa League tie against Molde.
When the 21-year-old was quizzed on what his plans were for the season and how conversation went with Arteta, Willock insisted that the talks were very ‘encouraging’.
Willock stated that he hold a ‘good’ relationship with the Spaniard, adding that he’s working ‘hard’ to try and turn in the ‘performances’ that ask the boss ‘questions’ and that could lead to starts in the Premier League.
The versatile midfielder is yet to feature in the top-flight this season, but has made five first-team appearances this term, with starts in the Carabao Cup ties, one in the Europa League and as two brief cameos off the bench.
Willock’s found minutes harder to come by as a result of the marquee arrival of Thomas Partey, return and resurgence of Mohamed Elneny and finally Arteta’s decision to deploy a 3-4-3.
With only two central midfield spots up for grabs, it’s of course been difficult for Willock. It’s a change for the ace who debuted in the 17/18 campaign, after making 44 appearances last season.
Willock also commented on the prospect of leaving on loan this season, adding that he’d ready to have that ‘conversation’ with Arteta and the club if need be.
Joe Willock has given the lowdown on how his talks with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta went regarding his role in the first-team this season… pic.twitter.com/VBlKdGPqnq
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“I mean for me, I always want to kick on, I always want to play more games and start more games in the Premier League, and become a player that I’ve always wanted to be.”
“So, I just wanted to focus on doing that, so at the start of the season I had a few conversations with the boss and it was very encouraging.”
“The manager is someone I have a good relationship with, so I trust him, I’m just trying to work hard, and as I said before trying to have performances that ask questions.”
Willock also commented on his prospects of minutes following the arrival of Thomas Partey and return of Mohamed Elneny:
“For me, I thrive on competition, so when I had the conversation with him, that wasn’t a conversation that was negative for me, it was something positive for me.”
“I wanted to learn off these players that were coming in and that I can train with every day and sort of compete with them.”
“I’m 21 years of age as I said before, I want to compete with these players and I said to him that’s what I want to do. It was very encouraging for him to support me and say ‘if I play well I’ll get the chance’.”
It’s refreshing to see that Willock was so open about his situation and hopes for the season as he was drafted in for UEFA’s pre-match media duties.
Willock will have to use opportunities like the likely action he’ll receive against Molde tomorrow night in order to increase his stock and challenge for minutes in the Premier League.
Other than that, the England Under-21s international could struggle for action unless there are injuries in midfield.
Willock’s versatility has afforded him more first-team opportunities since he broke into the fold though, so his fortunes could change very quickly.
The talent’s natural position is as a central midfielder, but Willock has also seen a fair bit of action as a winger or in a more advanced midfield role.