Willian reflects on his struggle for form & Arsenal’s future under Arteta

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Willian says he’s been in the worst form of his career at Arsenal but he thinks the phase has passed.

Signed as a free agent on a three-year deal in the summer, the Brazilian, who spent seven years at Chelsea, was supposed to provide an instant dash of creativity in a midfield living without Mesut Ozil.

To be fair, for 90 minutes at Fulham on the opening day of the season, he looked more than capable of living up to the hype. For whatever reason, the wheels fell off very quickly and by January the 32-year-old was operating on the fringes of the first team squad behind the club’s Academy teenagers.

Willian has seen more game time since the end of February and the cutting edge appears to be returning to his game. Four assists in the space of two weeks took his total for the season to seven and he seems more at ease with life as a consequence.

In an interview with ESPN Brazil, he said: “It really was a very difficult start, apart from that first game against Fulham, where I had a good performance, I managed to make a good game.

“Even after that game there were some games that we won, I even had a good game, but then we ended up getting a bad streak.

“I also got a bad streak and I think my worst professional time to date, since I went up at Corinthians and was sold to Ukraine, then I arrived at Chelsea, without a doubt. This phase that passed now was the worst time that I think I lived as a professional.

“Of course, when you live in a difficult moment, you get really upset and try to find solutions, a way to improve, try to help the team.

“That’s what I’ve been doing all this time, I never stopped training, to work, to dedicate myself as much as possible.

“It took a little while to leave, but lately in the last games I’ve been playing well again, standing out with assists, playing well. So I’m happy to be back to find my good football.”

While things haven’t gone to plan for player or club this season, Willian thinks Mikel Arteta has Arsenal on the right path.

“I think it has the potential to be a great project, it’s a great club, it’s in the hands of a good manager, it has everything to become one of the best managers in the world,” he said.

“Arsenal has everything to become a powerhouse again, to fight for titles, to play in the Champions League again, that’s what we players want.

“He always tries to talk to the players individually, even on the pitch, when he finishes training he calls the player, explains what he wants from the player, where the player should be, receive the ball… In other words, he is always trying to help the players to be better.

“There is no complaint about this, he is doing a great job, he is always looking for the players in the best possible way, giving them ideas, guiding them, showing them what he wants. Arsenal is in good hands.”

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Fezec

Good to hear this. Willi so far has been a flop. But now he’s stroking balls better we can only hope he’ll start to stand up when it matters.

If he can get some good rhythm going, performances should improve and with hard work we’ll find a purple patch, an extended vein of form, and a strong finish to come good by the end of the season.

Hermann Bando

Class work, mate.

The Peter Simpsons

Fnaaar

SaintlyCarZola

Heh. Not sure if those innuendos were on purpose or not. But, apparently the best thing for a floppy Willi is Viagra combined with ball stroking.

Adam Hall

Blogs do you have an annual comment award? This lad deserves it.

Martin Cramp

Nice!

Arsepedant

11 innuendos in just 65 words. Stunning.

7_is_a_magic_number

superb

Anonymarse

omg

Homer

A true master.

Ambazonian Gunner

If the dross he´s been pulling out the past few weeks is what he qualifies as “standing out”, then, we’re screwed for the next two and a half years with him.

Podb

He’s got permanent Blue balls … Willian is a flop and we have been stiffed by his agent.

LEFT08

Players praising an unproven manager is just baseless chatter really.

Biggles

Having been asked, he’s hardly likely to say something along the lines of: “The manager is still wet behind the ears so we’re all waiting to see what he can do.”

Qwaliteee

Which would be far more truthful, honest and refreshing than the boring mediocrity accepting claptrap that he came out with.

goonshow

Right. Because, given that you clearly also chat to Mik on a daily basis and – based on the many one-to-one chats with him – you’ve a far better fix on his character, ability and vision/plans for his team. READ his words – he talks about Arsenal having ‘the potential’ and Arteta working really well with the players as part of an ongoing project – he makes NO claims about the team playing well or being brilliant or being poised to win their next 10 matches…. He’s simply giving his own view on Arteta and the club, based on his… Read more »

Qwaliteee

I prefer to judge this team’s potential on our performances and our current league position.

And as for what Willian is saying, either the squad are all performing like Pelé in training or he’s clutching at straws.

I think, given our displays on the pitch this season, I’m informed enough to choose the latter.

Qwaliteee

Well said. There’s far too much mutual backslapping over a shite season going on at this club. The platitudes are all very well when the title’s in the bag – or we’ve at least qualified for the ECL.

As I said earlier, there’s a celebration of mediocrity nowadays at this club – both on the field and off it. Pathetic.

Vaibhav Pandey

Missing Ozil?

Qwaliteee

Ask Auba.

A P

If you have to keep hiding behind this Ozil joke to avoid acknowledging our shit season, you are even a more pathetic fk than usual.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Fans who don’t go to training every day yet have have an opinion on the manager they think is valid is just baseless chatter really.

Qwaliteee

We see what goes on the pitch, never mind the training ground.

And that’s been more than enough to validate our opinions that this season has been an absolute crock of crap.

No amount of cosy media friendly baseless chatter is going to change that.

goonshow

Funny though – they didn’t ask Willi if the season had been a crock of crap. He’d probably have agreed – he was honest enough to say he’s personally been in the worst form of his carreer. How much more honest would you like him to be? And how ‘cosy’ do you think it was for him to admit that… media-friendly? Hardly. They asked about the club’s future under Arteta and he answered, based on his personal interaction with the bloke. Did you expect him to say: I think he’s a total prick and doesn’t have a clue about football?… Read more »

Qwaliteee

Well, you might like to have overpaid underperforming over the hill ‘Stars’ telling you that this club has ‘everything it needs to become a powerhouse again, to fight for titles, to play in the Champions League’, but I’m inclined to take a rain check on a manager that can barely get this group of international players into the top half of the Premiership – never mind the other stuff. How about “We’ve seriously underperformed this season and we’re determined to put it right”…..? No, that won’t do – that requires an admission of failure and maybe some humility, which this… Read more »

gus

No -do what ever at the training ground– but the table does not lie—bottom of the top half , what a joke we have become
and also the style and swagger of our play is finished–we just an average team playing some system that i still haven’t worked out but it aint half boring to watch

Arsenalista

Their opinion is based on results not training, you can train really well and still get relegated.

A P

Yes, because training wins points. /s

thw14

Wouldn’t expect different from Willian, he owes Arteta way too much (and everyone knows it).

Tierney was more of a surprise, but I think it’s just a young guy wanting to project a sense of unity and misjudging how to phrase it.

Mcheza

I’d say Mari and Cedric have been good purchases for value and experience. I hope the summer activity means less reliance on Willian, luiz and xhaka and a first choice right back has a combination of the attributes Arteta wants. I think if Arteta stops his stubbornness he has attacking options that can push on for another summer as we have to be realistic with our transfer budget. Personally, I’d rather have a new manager because Arteta’s selection, game management & squad management aren’t good enough with the tools he’s had at his disposal. Tactical experience can be forgiven as… Read more »

Biggles

Getting rid of managers is relatively easy (although often very expensive – as Arsenal have found with our two previous managers). Taking the worst case, if we end up mid-table and don’t win the EL – so no European football next season – I doubt many “top” managers will be beating a path to The Emirates to apply.

There’s very little chance of Arteta being sacked even if that worst case scenario happens – he’d be given at least next season, although there would be huge pressure on him to improve the team’s performance of course.

thw14

Chelsea appointed Tuchel when they were 9th, Liverpool appointed Klopp after finishing 6th (we finished 3rd that year). But these are details.

Arteta should have two more years… gives Xhaka a bit of time to do his badges so we’ll have a ready made successor in 2023.

Marcus

I love the idea of Xhaka becoming Arsenal manager (or assistant)… not because I want it necessarily, but I can just imagine the vitriol from some sectors of the fan base. It would totally be a case of the owners, etc. trolling the fans

Qwaliteee

They’re doing that already.

Arteta should have been sacked at Christmas.

Canadagoon

And then Klopp finished 8th in his first season after Liverpool were 6th the season prior. They then slowly, steadily improved, which can happen if you give a good manager time.

But these are details.

thw14

Key word there is “good”. Also maybe “manager”. As opposed to assistant. Details.

goonshow

The word you’ve left out of your pedantry is ‘young’. The club – our club – chose to give an ex-Gunner (and our captain) with very little experience, a shot. That was based, perhaps, on his passion for the club, his solid character and, what his three recent mentors (and 3 of the world’s most succesful managers themselves) agreed was huge potential as a manager. So here’s a thought – let’s support the fella – give at least 2 seasons to prove himself, rather than these petulant demands for instant gratification? Note: the 2 mentors would be Pep, Carlo and… Read more »

Qwaliteee

Two more cracks at relegation. You’re too kind mate.

Vonnie

Chelsea spent fortunes on players in the transfer market and had a manager who couldn’t use them, I’m sure if Mikel and Edu were given a budget like that we’d easily be top four. It’s taking time and there’ll be ups and downs but we’re going in the right direction.

Hank Scorpio

We have a better squad than a number of teams above us. There’s no guarantee that big name signings would have us top 4 given current evidence of position on the table and relative squad quality.

Qwaliteee

It’s about working with the players you have as much as spending. This group of players are all Internationals, quite a few of them highly experienced Internationals. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for our dire performance in the league this season – our worst for 40 years – and, further to slipping to 16th in the table in December, to still be scratching around in mid table in April. Yes, the manager need a fair crack of the whip and at least another season. He was, in my opinion, three games from the sack at Christmas, but Saka and… Read more »

goonshow

Are you seriously holding Chelski up as any sort of reference point of how Arsenal should treat their managers?
I didn’t read any further after that mate, sorry.

Mcheza

Interesting that most of us through comments on this thread acknowledge Arteta’s short comings.

Question is do we sense he has improved as a manager enough to make us a top 4 challenger?

Qwaliteee

Not at the moment.

He’s currently struggling to get us to stay in the top half of the table, never mind top four.

As fans, we should be concerned about what is happening now – why we ship goals so easily, time and time and time again.

Philip Visser

His upturn is welcome even though I don’t share his self praise of “the worst has passed and I’m playing good again.” No other player in the current team I can think of has been given that much chance to improve and impress. Will take a lot more to convince that he was a worthwhile signing

oneniltotheboys

I agree although as long as he truly believes what he’s saying it should help him with his confidence and a confident Willian is a good player.He was certainly good at Chelshit.If we get that Willian playing for us it’ll certainly be a boost to the squad.Let’s hope so.I still don’t think I’d see him as a starter though but useful from the bench.

Biggles

He needs to improve and he appears to recognise that so let’s see what he can do now we’re at the “sharp end” of the season. Anything like a return to his Chelsea form would be a huge boost for everyone.

Qwaliteee

A lot of money for a lot of useless old rope.

Our worst signing ever, even worse than Mustafi, Gervinho, Jeff Blockley or Jimmy Carter.

Twatsloch

Jimmy was an alright president though.

Qwaliteee

🤣👍 That’s a fair one. That got a thumbs up.

TENNESSEE

You are hilarious.

Andy

Carter played a blinder against Southampton in 93

Qwaliteee

Oh behave mate. One decent game! Who does that remind you of? Arteta’s step son twice removed?

Carter was useless.

C.B.

He is older than Ozil.

Can we make it a rule not to employ older players on huge wages, unless we are 100% sure they will be performing. I’d rather have younger, faster players determined to make their mark.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

We had that rule as a club under Wenger. No contracts longer than a year for players over 30.

TeeCee

And boy did we scream about it every time a good player fucked off elsewhere for their last big payday.

There’s no simple answer.

Torterrier

I’m all for extending the contracts of decent players in their 30’s, but at the moment we’re handing out contracts to players such as Willian and Luiz that are unfortunately past their best. Arsenal need to find a good middle ground.

Twatsloch

Luiz got a year every time. That’s how to do it. William…we’re stuck with that lump for another two and a quarter season.

Torterrier

Yes, a year every time for a decent player works, but my point still stands with Luiz.

Qwaliteee

Correct. Even a top of his game Bergkamp had to toe the line, which, frankly, I found ridiculous.

Much as I love Arsene, some of his decisions were crazy.

Eric Blair

I think this was one of Wenger’s biggest mistakes. We had teams full of talent but too young and inexperienced to go the distance. What difference would a Pires, Henry or Ljungberg have made to that 2007/2008 team, especially when Rosicky and Eduardo went down injured? The leader we were left with in the dressing room was Gallas, which says it all. I think offering these contracts to over 30s makes sense when you factor in the experience and leadership qualities they bring, how they might help shape the club culture as winners. Willian has unfortunately been a disaster on… Read more »

C.B.

“It’s not over 30, it’s over 32. So when you have a player [who is] 32 he will just get a one-year contract,” Wenger explained in 2010.
“It depends on the positions as well. If a central defender, then no problem to sign them until 34.
“But a striker is different. After 32 you go from year to year. A midfielder as well, after 32 you go from year-to-year.”

Biggles

Yes, it’s always a gamble – or rather more of a gamble, I guess. It doesn’t mean to say that it can’t pay off but if it doesn’t you are stuck with a player with little or usually no sell-on value, who gets paid whether he plays or not, over the length of whatever contract has been agreed.

Overall, we haven’t got a good record of such signings although that doesn’t exclude Willian in this case from returning to his Chelsea form (albeit after a very slow start). He’s still got two seasons to prove that.

Amusa

The amount of time Arteta has given him to play into form has directly impacted game time for Pepe, Martenelli and Nelson.
One of our worst signings of the last decade but Arteta continues to play him because he’s his signing.

Qwaliteee

Top post. Expect, however, to have your clear thinking voted down by the bucketload. It doesn’t tie in with the lemming myth that “We’re On The Right Path.”

SarcasmB0t

Of the last decade?

Surely you mean century?

Iain

I feel sorry for him on a personal level as he seems like a nice person and it’s not his fault the manager kept picking him. But undoubtedly one of our worst signings ever. Sure no transfer fee but effectively has taken tens of millions off the value of the players he was selected ahead of, and cost us millions in prize money through poor results. Plus the way he must surely undrmine confidence in arteta in the squad when his continued selection casts doubt on artetasnjudgment and the merit principle 🙁

SarcasmB0t

He’s paid more than Saka, more than Tierney, more than ESR and Odegaard.

And here he’s celebrating the fact he hasn’t been completely useless recently.

Easily the worst contract-per-performance ratio in this club’s long history.

As shit a player as has ever regularly played for us.

He can’t be gone soon enough – and thanks to Kia, Raul, and Mikel, he won’t be.

RistoJ

True, obscene wages paid to these people (Auba too) ruins their very soul. Look who’s running the show for Arsenal, kids like Saka, Tierny, ESR.

Qwaliteee

Auba has had an indifferent season, not helped by the fact that up until Christmas, there was fuck all service from our so called midfield.

EmileSmithWhoa

Pay is always, always, always 1) what have you done in the past 2) what will you do in the future. Your boss never gives you a really good (well deserved) raise simply because of what is expected in the future. A “deserved” raise means you already earned it. Whatever we do…do not give Tierney, Saka, ESR big raises, it will ruin them! Take note of the dripping sarcasm.

btw

I agree that Willian has been mostly shit, yet he leads the team in PL assists. Hardly the worst contract per performance ratio in the clubs long history. That prize would go to Ozil’s final contract.

I only hope Willian proves his doubters wrong, even if he seems a pointless signing that robs our talented youth players of game time. Arteta seems to lean on experience, yet it was the youth that dragged us back from the brink in December. Big summer coming up, we lose odegaard and we’re back to square one.

SarcasmB0t

Good point about Ozil.

I will say, however, that when Ozil stopped performing, managers stopped playing him.

Willian always plays, no matter how shit his performances.

If he’d been given the Ozil treatment, he wouldn’t have gotten those assists, because wouldn’t have been fucking registered in January.

Twatsloch

“Willian says he’s been in the worst form of his career at Arsenal”

I could have told him that for nothing.

“but he thinks the phase has passed”

I certainly hope so.

Andy

The phase has passed when he puts together 10-15 games of decent form with a few goals and a handful of assists. Not just being marginally better than abysmal once or twice.

catbiscuits

In fairness, he’s not trying to deflect any blame – it would have been pretty easy to mention adapting to a new system, a club in transition, no fans in the stadium, etc. He’s just straight up said he was in the worst form of his life, and that he’s starting to contribute over the last few weeks.

goonshow

Exactly – and how easy do all the seld-righteous haters above think it was for him to say that in public?
He’s been crap – we all know it. HE knows it. He’s trying to do something about it. We’re stuck with him for a few seasons so surely it’s best for the club if he does pull himself out of this slump? And is he more likely to do that with support or with a bunch of armchair warriors crucifying him week after week?… So-called ‘supporters’ who really should know better.?

Naigooner

Everyone player says the same things about MA. They all believe he’s got the Midas touch. He’s either the genius they say he is or he’s just the biggest con artist of the 21st century.

Qwaliteee

The League table doesn’t lie.

It’s a good job it doesn’t laugh as well….

goonshow

Your commentary provides the laughs mate – we’ve missed you lately.

Kostas

All the players of a team that is top 4 on the salary league and 10th on the actual.

Cranky Colin

How on earth can this lad improve his game so much that he could get in ahead of Saka Odegaard martinelli Pepe or Esr?
What kind of a make believe world does he live in?

Santori

Arsenal fans living up their arse (no offense) They want to buy this player that player. reality is Arsenal are no longer an attractive destination for top end players (Unless we can at least win the europa) If no CL or europa footy next season, good luck attracting the cream of the crop. Plus money will be a big issue. Many bleating on about signing Odegaard but these were deals kicked down the road. neither Ceballos or Odegaard have an option therefore if they perform well, likely they will be re-absorbed into RM or sold to highest bidder with CL.… Read more »

goonshow

I breathlessly await a Santa article (because they are certainly too long to be ‘comments’ that doesn’t manage to squeeze in the 72m paid for Pepe…

Santori

At the moment in those wide areas we should be rotating between Saka, Pepe and Martinelli.

Bar an injury or one of the above, having to play Willian is a spanner in the works for development.

Santori

Its slightly different at Cback which also still IMO is over rotated. In the case of Luiz, he does not bring that much more defensively but he brings long range passing accuracy which Holding particularly and Gabriel are short on. Nominally otherwise, it would be better to develop on Holding, Mari and Gabriel rotating for future with the best 2 played regularly as much as poss. With deep midfield, Partey & Granit seem to work well. Ceballos has a careless streak but frankly I feel he is in the wrong position deep and we should be using him in similar… Read more »

goonshow

omg… still more

Paul Roberts

Nah not buying it. The youngsters getting in ahead of him will only get better and Willian’s trajectory even if he has a better patch is downwards.

Qwaliteee

To the Earth’s core, with any luck.

Homer

Willian. Really? Shows how clueless eso. Really is.

Wilian in nutshell:
Over priced chelski @unt whos nowhere near as good as he thinks he is, and has been rubbish all season

Well, maybe thats harsh. He is an “Arsenal” player.

Nah. Fuck him. Terrible player for us. Terrible bit of business.

Aalborgen

Opinion: a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. In the world of social media people are not entitled to their opinions they are responsible for them. That is what school kids learn in my country. If I called People in my personal life and at work shit, crap and useless, that would be concidered unconstructive and abusive. Even if I didn’t say it directly to people, just behind their backs, I would rightly be concidered a prick. But on social media to many thinks that this is acceptable behavior. That is why there… Read more »