Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta does not think the criticism Willian has received during his time in North London has been unfair.
The Brazilian winger, who signed for Arsenal in the summer, has come under a lot of pressure for the most part of this season due to his poor performances for the Gunners.
This season, he is yet to score a goal and has provided just three assists in 24 appearances for the North London side in all appearances.
The former Chelsea winger’s poor form has caused him to lose his place in the first team. The Gunners’ academy graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe have established themselves as an important part of the first team.
With the other two spots occupied by two of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, there is little space for Willian in the team.
Gooners have been furious with his lacklustre performances especially because a significant number of them were never fully on board with this signing.
This is primarily down to the fact that he is on the wrong side of 30 and has been handed a lucrative contract because he was signed as a free agent. The 32-year-old has failed to even come close to his performances in a Chelsea shirt so far in his Arsenal career.
Many have questioned why Arteta continues to bring him off the bench when the likes of Gabriel Martinelli are available.
On Willian, Arteta said:
“What he’s doing at the moment, the way he’s training, the way he’s working, the way he’s willing to give everything to the team is what I demand. Whether he’s more successful or less successful in the game is another matter, it will come with the quality that he has but this is what I demand to every player. A full commitment and to put the passion and everything they have in every training session and when they have the opportunity to play and so far Willian has done that every single day.”
On if the criticism of Willian is unfair, he said:
“I don’t say it’s unfair because with Willy the expectation is really high in terms of the goals he can score. The assists he can create, you expect him to be in the starting lineup as well so it’s normal that people write things about him. We have to protect him, we have to support him as much as we can because he deserves it from the way he handles his profession and the way he is with us.”
On if Willian could be involved against Benfica, he said:
“Well, he’s part of the squad so he’s got a good chance.”
Willian is not a bad player and has the ability to help Arsenal achieve their targets. He must, however, rediscover his form quickly as he is in danger of being left in the dust. This would be an unfortunate situation for the player but even more so for the North London club as this was an expensive gamble that they will not want to see go so horribly wrong.
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