Willock praises Arteta as he looks to push for regular Arsenal role

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Arsenal’s Joe Willock says that Mikel Arteta’s progress has been “mind-blowing”, with the 21-year-old midfielder adding that he must now find a way to push his way into a more regular role in the manager’s plans.

Arteta took over at Arsenal midway through the 2019-20 campaign, eventually leading the Gunners to an FA Cup triumph.

This season Arteta has Arsenal hopeful of pushing on for a top-four spot, having recently picked up a 1-0 win over fellow contenders Manchester United.

The Gunners also continue in the Europa League, having won their first two matches over Rapid Wien and Dundalk ahead of Thursday’s clash with Molde in London.

Willock says that the entire squad is feeling good about the progress so far under Arteta, despite recent claims from Manchester United legend Roy Keane that there is a lack of respect for the Spanish manager.

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“As you know we all really, really respect the manager,” Willock said on Wednesday. “What he’s done over the 10 months he’s been here is mind-blowing and we can only hold our hats off to him and that’s something that we talk about

“We talk about the big respect we have for him in the changing room so I don’t think that’s a lack of respect; it’s just the relationship we each have with him.”

Willock made 44 appearances for the Gunners last season, but has yet to feature in the Premier League this campaign. 

He had made five appearances across the Europa League, Carabao Cup and the Community Shield, but Willock says that he must find a way to push his way into Arteta’s plans after the summer signing of Thomas Partey. 

“I always want to kick on, play more games and start more games in the PL and become a player that I’ve always wanted to be,” he said. “I just wanted to focus on doing that.

“At the start of the season I had a few conversations with the boss and it was very encouraging and the manager is someone I have a good relationship with so I trust him. I’m just trying to work hard and have performances that ask questions.

He added: “For me I thrive off competition so when I had the competition with him that was a conversation that it was negative for me, it was something positive. I want to learn off these players that were coming in and I can train with every day and sort of compete with them.

“I’m 21 years of age and I want to compete with these players and I said to him that’s what I want to do and it was very encouraging for him to support me and say if I play well I’ll get the chance so that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”

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