EPL

Arteta offers Willock assurances over Arsenal future

By Sports Desk May 21, 2021

Joe Willock has a bright future at Arsenal on the back of prolific loan spell at Newcastle United, says Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

Willock headed the only goal as Newcastle beat Sheffield United 1-0 in midweek, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive appearances.

Those exploits mean he is the joint-top scorer in the division since the return from the March international break, alongside Chris Wood, Mason Greenwood, Matheus Pereira and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Newcastle are reportedly looking to make the move permanent, with a £20million fee mooted, while Willock said after Wednesday's win: "Hopefully there's more to continue in the future.

"I'm not going to promise anything, but the conversation is going to be held."

But Arteta, asked whether the attacking midfielder had a future to look forward to at Emirates Stadium, told a news conference: "Yes, and I'm really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that he has.

"It was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really positive and remarkable way.

"He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next step then."

Arsenal conclude a fairly forgettable campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, while the curtain on the Premier League career of one of the competition's all-time greats will come down elsewhere.

Arteta worked on the Manchester City coaching staff under Pep Guardiola for three-and-a-half seasons and paid a glowing tribute to Sergio Aguero, who is set to play his final league match as the division's all-time leading goalscorer from oversees when Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.

"I know from working with him – his character, his personality, he is a lovely man," he said.

"One of the best talents that I've seen, what he has done in this league for so long, scoring the amount of goals he has done.

"He changed the perception of English football in different countries.

"For Manchester City, I think again he was a big contributor to the change in history and mentality in the winning years that they had."

Related items

  • 'We have to be more clinical' - Conte rues missed opportunities in Eintracht draw 'We have to be more clinical' - Conte rues missed opportunities in Eintracht draw

    Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to be "more clinical" after they were held to a goalless draw by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League.

    Despite registering 11 shots on goal, Spurs failed to score in successive group games in the competition for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

    Conte's side subsequently missed the chance to move top of Group D, but the Italian praised the intensity and personality demonstrated by his players on the back of a 3-1 North London derby defeat at Arsenal.

    "We played a match with great intensity; we didn't allow them to play their football or press a lot in every area of the pitch," he told BT Sport.

    "At the same time, we have to be more clinical. We created many chances to score. At the end, we are talking about a draw. It is a good draw because it is not easy to play away with the atmosphere. We played a good game but if you don't score, you don't win.

    "There are moments you are more clinical, there are moments like in the game against Arsenal and today; you create chances, but make a mistake with the last pass.

    "It is important to create chances; the game was good for us and we played with a great personality."

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was left disappointed by his team-mates' failure to turn positive build-up play into a breakthrough, but the midfielder highlighted the maturity on display as they ended a run of three successive away defeats in the Champions League.

    "We are not 100 per cent happy, I thought we prepared until the penalty area well," Hojbjerg said. "We tried to get in behind them, but the opportunities we had, we didn't use them. It's disappointing. The last bite needed a bit.

    "I thought we took the game well, we tried to be dominant. We tried to find the spaces and tried to overcome the first pressure.

    "If you cannot win, you don't lose the game. The team presented themselves as very mature. We are here, we are competing and every game, we want to win."

    Spurs are second in Group D, two points behind Sporting CP and level on points with Eintracht.

  • Klopp looking forward to reading newspapers again as he concedes Liverpool criticism has been fair Klopp looking forward to reading newspapers again as he concedes Liverpool criticism has been fair

    Jurgen Klopp believes the criticism that has come Liverpool's way in recent weeks has been justified, as he quipped he is relishing the chance to read a newspaper again.

    Liverpool have had an underwhelming start to the season and sit ninth in the Premier League following Saturday's 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion.

    They bounced back in the Champions League on Tuesday, beating Rangers 2-0 at Anfield thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick and Mohamed Salah's penalty.

    Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the scoreline respectable, with Darwin Nunez frustrated in his search for a first Anfield goal, but the Reds got the job done with a minimum of fuss to claim a second straight win in Group A following their 2-1 defeat of Ajax last month.

    When it was put to him in his post-match news conference if Liverpool had used criticism of their performances as additional motivation, Klopp said with a smile: "I cannot wait for the moment when I can read newspapers again!"

    He continued: "No, I have no clue. The criticism was completely fine. We are not over the moon about our situation, let’s put it like this.

    "We've still been playing some really good games, it's not like [success] was 10 years ago. Champions League nights at Liverpool are always quite enjoyable, usually.

    "I don't think it had too much to do with the situation. I saw tonight a team fully committed, that's what I like about it."

    Captain Jordan Henderson, who started alongside Thiago Alcantara in a two-man midfield as Klopp tweaked his side's formation, told BT Sport: "It can be difficult. You try to not listen to social media especially when you go through a tough period as an individual or a team.

    "You've got to switch off the noise and focus on what you do day-to-day and stay focused on what we're trying to achieve as a team. That's not easy. It can hurt players at times but you've got to try and find a way to use it as fuel and energy on the pitch."

    Alexander-Arnold has been one of the players to face the most scrutiny, but delivered an excellent performance.

    His stunning free-kick seven minutes in opened the scoring and he finished with more touches (96) and more successful passes in the opponent's half (40) than any other player, while he also produced a joint-high four tackles.

    He has now scored more free-kicks (six) than any other Liverpool player since the start of the 2016-17 season, while the England international - who was left out by Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions' final match before the World Cup against Germany - is the first Reds player to net such a goal in the Champions League since Steven Gerrard against Basel in 2014.

    "It's a wonderful goal. What can I say?" Klopp said.

    "He played a good game, defensively especially. It is not that he has had a defensive problem it's that we have had a defensive problem, because our line was not right.

    "If the timing is not right, you open gaps and these gaps are very often on the back of Trent but not because of him, but because of the situation where we put our right-back."

    Henderson added: "You've got to give Trent a license to get forward and produce what he can produce up the pitch. I thought he was good defensively tonight, he did the basics really well. I didn't have to cover too much."

  • Xavi 'outraged' after refereeing 'injustice' in Inter defeat Xavi 'outraged' after refereeing 'injustice' in Inter defeat

    Xavi was "outraged" as his Barcelona side saw a goal disallowed and an injury-time penalty not given in their 1-0 Champions League defeat to Inter.

    After Hakan Calhanoglu put the Nerazzurri in front in first-half stoppage time at San Siro, Barcelona thought they had levelled when Pedri turned home from close range in the 66th minute.

    However, the goal was disallowed after replays showed Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana had tipped Ousmane Dembele's cross onto Ansu Fati's arm before Pedri tapped in.

    Inter were again fortunate late on, when VAR initiated a penalty check after the ball appeared to strike Denzel Dumfries' arm in the box. Much to Barcelona's anger, a spot-kick was not awarded.

    The hosts held on to claim three points, making Xavi the first Barca coach to lose his first three Champions League away games in charge of the club.

    Yet all of his frustration was saved for the officials, with Xavi telling reporters: "I am outraged.

    "First they explain to us that Ansu Fati handled but another team-mate scored, then with the other incident, it is not clear what happened.

    "It is my opinion, I would have liked to speak to the referee, because he did not blow the whistle. At the moment, I am outraged, it is an injustice and it makes no sense.

    "Now we still have three finals left, we have already lost in Munich and we start again. But there is indignation.

    "In general, it was a great injustice. I can't hide and say I'm not outraged, it's a great injustice. The referee should give explanations, instead he goes away and nothing happens. He has to come here and explain."

    Despite what he perceived as poor refereeing from Slavko Vincic, Xavi acknowledged that officiating alone was not to blame for the defeat.

    "We struggled in rhythm, in the circulation of the ball and in the last half hour we played better, we found good areas on the wing," he added.

    "We tried, we want to attack and we paid for the first half, we lacked a bit of rhythm. We need to be self-critical, beyond referee decisions.

    "The first half was not up to the Champions League. We talked about it at half-time, we needed more rhythm in the exchange of the ball and I think the second half was positive."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.