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.”