‘It was hard to let Joe leave, but he had to play’

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Mikel Arteta admits is was a “difficult decision” to sell Joe Willock in the summer but ultimately he needed to play more regularly.

The England Under-21 international will return to Emirates Stadium on Saturday with Newcastle, and our manager expects him to get a big reception.

“I think it will be really nice to have him [back], we all love and like Joe,” Arteta said.

“Obviously it was a difficult decision to make to let him go, but I think he’s shown that’s what he needs as well to play the minutes that he’s finding there and find a new challenge.

“Yes {I've spoken to him] – not this week, but I have done it before and he knows the reception he’s going to get.”

Newcastle have struggled in N5 in recent times, so what does Arteta expect from them on Saturday?

“Let's keep that going!” he said. “But it is a new game, obviously there are so changes happening there, you can see the momentum that is building and it is different.

“You see the last game they played as well, you saw some different things: new manager, new coaching staff, so let's be prepared.

“Fron what I’ve seen of them in the last few games there were crucial moments in games where the game could have gone in a completely different way.

“We know the attacking threat that they have, they have players that can hurt you in the last 30 metres of the pitch and we’re gonna have to be really conscious of that and play as well as we can.”

27/11

Newcastle (H)

Premier League

2 - 0

02/12

Manchester United (A)

Premier League

3 - 2

06/12

Everton (A)

Premier League

20:00

11/12

Southampton (H)

Premier League

15:00

15/12

West Ham (H)

Premier League

20:00

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1 14 10 3 1 27 33
2 14 10 2 2 21 32
3 14 9 4 1 31 31
4 14 7 3 4 8 24
5 14 7 2 5 -3 23
6 13 7 1 5 -4 22
7 14 6 3 5 0 21
8 14 6 3 5 0 21
9 14 4 7 3 -2 19
10 14 5 4 5 -3 19
11 14 3 7 4 -1 16
12 14 4 4 6 -2 16
13 14 5 1 8 -4 16
14 14 4 3 7 -7 15
15 14 3 6 5 -7 15
16 14 3 6 5 -7 15
17 14 4 1 9 -7 13
18 13 1 7 5 -6 10
19 14 2 4 8 -20 10
20 14 0 7 7 -14 7