Joe Willock made his breakthrough into the Arsenal first team last season, starting 20 games in total, and being brought on a sub in another 24 matches, and it looked like he was going to be the next youngster to become a regular for the Gunners.
But this season his career has stuttered with the meteoric rise of Saka, Smith-Rowe and Martinelli and has only started in two League games in this campaign. And, to be honest, he hasn’t really taken his chances when the games came along.
So, it is best all around that he has now gone to a club that can give him regular first team football, and it sounds like Steve Bruce is very keen to have him around and can only increase his confidence.
To start with he will be playing in front of an empty stadium but he clearly remembers the first time he went to St. James Park. Willock told the Mirror: “Newcastle is a team I always watched. When I made my debut here I was so scared because of the fans!
“I told my mum and dad it felt like the fans were on top of my head! I have never experienced that before in a stadium!”
Hopefully he will be experiencing that again soon when the government allows fans to go back into the grounds, but at least he will be getting regular football. “I have been blessed to play so many games for a great club like Arsenal but I am striving to get to the next level.W he said.
“To do that I need to play more in the Premier League. I was disappointed with the number of games I have played for Arsenal in the Premier League. To come here and get more games and help the team and put Newcastle where they should be in the table.
“I spoke to Steve Bruce and he gave me brilliant confidence to come here and make a difference.
“That was my first thought that this is the club I can go to on loan. Everything went smoothly and now I am here and I am excited and happy.”
“I have been at Arsenal since four and a half and it is a bit daunting to take a step away from your comfort zone. When Newcastle called, such a massive club, but I love to play for big teams.
“I had a chat with Steve Bruce. First he approached it in a nice way. He asked how I was training and how I was and he approached it by being humorous, he made a few jokes, and I am a funny guy and love to have jokes. That was a starter.
“He talked about how he would use me, where he sees me in the team and he had a whole plan for me. I was shocked. That was the first time I have spoken to a manager and they have had a whole plan for me. He called me a few times and there were a lot of things that made me think this is the right club for me.
“Mikel Arteta is an amazing manager and I have respect for him. He did speak to me and give Steve Bruce a brilliant recommendation and says he is a man true to his word.”
“I always went to push on to get better and improve myself. The only way I can do that is playing games. This is the next step in my career.
“I am a box to box midfielder. I score goals and I defend. I run my socks off and I fight every moment for the team.”
“I love to play football, love the way they play, it is a really good fit. It is such a fan orientated club.
“I want to score, defend and get up the table, with a run of wins. I want to contribute.”
I am sure all Arsenal fans are also keen to see Joe do well and finally show the promise that he had as a youngster. Maybe the pressure will on him again in a new environment and with very fickle fans (hopefully soon!).
Maybe he will come back next season as a more mature and confident professional…