Newcastle United midfielder Joe Willock has struggled to kick on following his £25million (Sky Sports) summer move from Arsenal.
The 22-year-old was always going to find it tough to replicate the form he showed last season. Willock scored seven goals in the final seven games of his loan spell.
His form meant that Mike Ashley was willing to sanction Steve Bruce’s request of bringing the England under-21 international to St James’ Park on a permanent deal.
Since coming back to Tyneside, things haven’t worked out for either Willock or Newcastle. But under Eddie Howe, it is hoped he can start to have an influence once again.
With his side trailing 3-2 in Howe’s first game, Willock was replaced in the 70th minute by Ryan Fraser.
It spoke volumes that, whilst his team were chasing a route back into the game, the club’s big money signing was the man to be replaced.
Howe’s decision was vindicated as Fraser combined with Allan Saint-Maximin to ensure his team grabbed a point.
A worrying trend that the former Bournemouth boss is going to have to change in Willock’s game so far this season is his ability to get forward and link-up with Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.
In the 10 games Willock has played in the top-flight so far this season, he has registered a shot on goal in only three matches. He has had just seven shots all season (WhoScored).
His ability to create goalscoring chances for the likes of Saint-Maximin and Wilson hasn’t been much better either.
The former Arsenal man has made a key pass in four of his 10 Premier League outings.
Willock set for Emirates return
With Saturday’s trip to the Emirates looming, Willock will be reunited with former friends and familiar surroundings.
Playing against his former side and having the motivation to prove Mikel Arteta wrong could propel Willock to producing his best performance since joining the club on a permanent deal.
But with Fraser contributing against Brentford and Miguel Almiron knocking on the door for a recall, there are no guarantees that Willock will even start the game.
Howe has a number of issues to resolve to ensure Newcastle’s top-flight status is retained come the end of the season, but unlocking Joe Willock is one that will rank highly.
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