Joe Willock’s growing influence could make him the missing piece in Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side

Joe Willock, for all the deserved praise and the excitement surrounding his recent performances, has yet to make an appearance in the Premier League for Arsenal this season.

That might be a frustration for the young midfielder, who with each match appears to grow more influential and more self-assured.

Willock was excellent again on Thursday night as a much-changed Arsenal side fought back from a goal down to beat Molde 4-1 in the Europa League. After missing a couple of chances in the second half, he fired a shot into the roof of the net with a couple of minutes remaining to put the gloss on another classy display.

Mikel Arteta was complimentary after the game about Willock.

“Keep doing what he’s doing consistently, and his chance will arrive,” the Arsenal boss said.

Willock, too, made clear his intention. “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.

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“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 is a young player with the kind of attitude that will delight his manager. There will be no complaints, no demands to play more often. He will bide his time and do his talking on the pitch.

There have been suggestions that the 21-year-old should leave on loan, but that might be counterproductive given his recent progress at Arsenal. The Europa League is still a high level competition and consistently strong performances on Thursday nights will do more to impress Arteta than a spell away from the club.

The issue, though, is where Willock fits into the starting XI when everyone is available. Arsenal are…