I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed watching young Joe strutting his stuff for the Barcodes. A loan to another club is often seen as a negative, but for the development of a young player it can be very valuable. Take a child on a foreign holiday and notice how they seem to be smarter and communicate better two or three weeks after you’ve returned. The same goes for a promising talent going out on loan: the new environment gives them a different perspective and opportunities to learn and so they become more rounded and skilled players.
Joe (and also Ainsley but this post is not about him) has done well during his loan. Willock has got 9 goals and 3 assists in just under 1400 minutes of football for both Arsenal and Newcastle (Europe and PL) this season. That is one hell of a return for a young player. What is even more impressive is how quickly he adapted at the Magpies, getting better by the game: in the last five matches he scored a goal every time; one against Spuds, Hammers, Pool, the Foxes and Man City. The boy is on fire.
Some credit needs to go to Steve Bruce who clearly has given him confidence and allowed him to play in a role that suits him. The big question is, can he do this at Arsenal? Joe was struggling a bit to get into the Arsenal team by the end of 2020 and then he went on loan. Key for me is to play to Joe’s strengths, which in my view are his forward runs with the ball, his engine, his ability to battle AND his ability to score. He wasn’t doing the latter at PL level whilst a Gunner but is now doing it with some ease for Newcastle United.
I love this development and look forward to his return. However, Arsenal are in need of money and Willock has played himself into the wish list of many a manager, no doubt – Steve B is for example very keen on him. Selling him is not without attraction. Finally, it could also be good to loan out Willock again next season, say till Christmas as to allow him to learn even more and join Arsenal at the business end of next season.
I reckon that there is now a very suitable position for JW at Arsenal, which was not really the case during the first part of the season. With Arteta moving Xhaka to LB and mostly Ceballos playing in a free role between the sole DM, Partey, and the attacking players, we have entered a different stage. It had mixed success until now but with the right players it could work a treat. Ceballos or Elneny can do a decent job for sure, but the ideal player for this formation is somebody with a great engine, strong ability to drive forward with the ball, great battling ability AND ability to score. I give you Joe Willock! Then again the money could give us options… and another loan spell could complete his development into a fully ready PL player…
So what to do with Joe? Push, Loan, or Marry to the Arsenal this summer?
We welcome both comments from Gooners or Newcastle fans…