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Arsenal star presents Joe Willock an emotional gift on his return to North London

Newcastle United midfielder Joe Willock received a post-match gift from his former Arsenal teammate at the Emirates on Saturday

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In a bittersweet return to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock received a post-match gift from his former Arsenal teammate Bukayo Saka. Despite Newcastle suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Gunners, Willock’s late consolation goal was a bright spot for the Magpies who endured a torrid night in the capital.

Willock, who came off the bench in the 73rd minute against his former team, wasted no time making an impact. He netted a goal just 10 minutes later, marking his first appearance for Newcastle since November. His stellar performance may bring some much-needed competition to Newcastle’s midfield.

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After the match, Willock took the opportunity to catch up with Saka and his other former teammates in the tunnel. In a touching gesture, Saka gifted Willock his match-worn shirt as a token of camaraderie.

Expressing gratitude for the warm reception he received from the Arsenal fans, Willock said at full-time, “I’m thankful for them, but today playing for Newcastle United and losing was a bit disappointing. Arsenal gave me a lot during my career. I was there since I was four and a half, so they gave me a lot.”

Despite the defeat, some Arsenal fans acknowledged Willock’s late goal with applause, recognising the player who spent nearly 17 years with the club before deciding to move to Newcastle for more playing time.

Reflecting on the game, Joe Willock acknowledged the challenge of facing a top side like Arsenal. “We knew what we were getting into when we came here; they [Arsenal] are a really top side, they play good football,” he told TNT Sports. “In the first half, I thought we could’ve done better, but I thought second half we reacted, and we have to take the second half to the next game.”

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