Joe Willock will have to fight his way into Arsenal’s starting XI, former Gunners defender Martin Keown believes.
The 21-year-old made his sixth appearance of the season on Thursday night in Arsenal’s Europa League clash with FC Molde.
Willock got on the scoresheet in his second successive European outing, scoring Arsenal’s third in a 4-1 victory over the Norwegian champions.
Aside from his goalscoring contribution, the midfielder – who has yet to feature in the league this season – turned in an impressive display against Erling Moe’s side.
Keown, like many others, was impressed by Willock’s latest night at the office but believes he needs to figure out a way to carve out a path into the first-team.
“Arteta is trying to build a new culture,” the former Gunners defender said during an appearance on BT Sport. “And what better way to do it then with young players from the academy who understand what it means to be Arsenal player.
“You come through the system, you’re dreaming of being an Arsenal player.
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“I came through with a number of Arsenal players myself – [Tony] Adams and [David] Rocastle. I think there’s a love for the club.
“And it’s nice to be able to tease that out. Keep it in the group. We’ve seen that with [Bukayo] Saka, [Eddie] Nketiah on loan.
“But Willock now we have to work out a pathway to be able to get into that first team.
“And if he has to go on loan, that’s fair enough. But for now, I think there’s a chance. He’s not far away from getting it right.”
Keown’s sentiment is shared by Gunners defender David Luiz, who reckons Willock needs to make some slight improvements to his game to become a permanent fixture in the team.
“Joe is a fantastic kid, fantastic boy,” the Brazilian said. “I’m always behind him to help.
“I think he could do better. And I don’t joke with this because he has the talent to be at the top level.
“He needs to understand that every single day. And for me, it’s a pleasure to play with the kids. Especially because he is humble.
“When you are humble you can learn things, be better and improve. If you are not humble you can never understand.
“He is humble and has a great present and great future.”