Analysis – Which position will Willian play at Arsenal?

Welcome Willian, the ‘Right Winger’!

Based on “Arsenal The Squad: Identifying Problem Areas and Transfer Expectations”

Willian Borges Da Silva

5’9” – Right footed – 9 August 1988

Right winger was it?

“I can play on the right, I can play in the middle, I can play on the left as well” – Willian

 

Position App Goals Assist
Right wing 175 24 36
Attacking Midfield 106 30 21
Left wing 139 20 43
       

 

Season Pos App Goals Assist
19/20 RW 32 8 9
18/19 LW 30 6 8
17/18 AM 37 12 11
         

 

The man was not lying. 3 different seasons, 3 different positions with good numbers, although I will also note that the 17/18 season was a really good season for him in the attacking midfield role. His goal plus assist output has only been below ten in the premier league twice, one being his debut season. Has just recently achieved a personal best in the same metric this season with both individual metrics (goals and assists) being the best in each category, 9 and 7 respectively. He is simply a good attacker.

Cover and Experience

“We have been monitoring him with clear intentions to strengthen in the attacking midfield and winger positions” – Head Coach Mikel Arteta

 

He is important to 2 areas, left-wing and the role Lacazette is currently playing, in charge of high pressing and productivity in the final third. Willian walks in as the best left winger we have in the squad (in terms of natural wingers) also adding much experience to the youngsters playing on either side. More importantly for the left-wing area, I speculate his contract length means that the club may believe they have sorted this area and expects either Martinelli or Saka to be capable of at least similar output consistently by the time it ends. A good option in the CF/CAM area, capable of playing it differently from what Arsenal currently has. I feel like he adds little to our defensive side so I don’t expect much positive change in the goals conceded area with his inclusion. We maintain top heavy but better left/right balance.

 

Return to the front

“We tried to create a better balance in the squad but we know that takes time to balance the squad the way me and Mikel want to” – Technical Director Edu

A possible indication of Aubameyang’s return to starting in the middle rather than having to get there from the sides. Aubameyang’s recent numbers are showing an indication of specialising. Increase in shooting metrics and decrease in key passes and assist. Willian’s numbers indicate good involvement in build-up and his best performing stat this season was key passes. I speculate that Willian will take up the creative role on the left and Aubameyang would be made to take more of the shooting responsibilities. This means in terms of creativity, it is more spread out so better balance in that aspect. If we are capable of providing Aubameyang with the level of service close to what Lewandowski is getting at Bayern Munich, I will no doubt have to amend my words and refer our impressive goalscorer as the image of a “30+ goals a season striker”. Another exciting possibility with our current squad is this forward line…

Lacazette Aubameyang
Willian Ozil Pepe

 

Quite impressive on paper don’t you think? Sure we will concede goals, but we can probably outscore that.

Marvellous hair by the way.

Data taken from Arsenal.com, Transfermarkt.com and Understat.com*

Thank you for reading!

ArsenalAfroArmy

25 Comments

  1. Sue says:

    As soon as I saw ‘Marvellous hair by the way” just knew it had to be AAA!! 😂

    1. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

      My bias can’t be that obvious can it?

  2. antonioro says:

    Ozil again?This guy is gone,doesn’t exist anymore.Why is he in that “ attacking formation”?That’s why we transfered Willian,to replace “ big zero” Ozil…

  3. Joe Allysons says:

    I think a very important bit of what Arteta says is when he hails Willians ability to create attacking overloads. If I understand the meaning of the phrase attacking overload, then it cannot be created by a winger. Attacking overloads are created by midfielders moving to create 2v1 or 3v2 situations on the flanks. This sort of means that Arteta might be very looking to play him through the middle, which might be accurate , but might also just be me wishing for what I think would be best.
    The reason I’d play him down the middle is for his pressing abilities. This would help us win the ball back almost immediately after loosing it.

    If we were to get Partey, I’d have Willian , Partey and Xhaka in that midfield , but all playing as number 8’s . That’s with Willian playing ahead of the other two.

    I think the idea that playing Auba in the middle would increase his shooting opportunities is quite to be polite blindly advised. Auba and the Lewandowski you are referring to have different builds and different styles. Auba isn’t the ideal CF. He’s not that good in the air, isn’t great with his back to goal, and quite frankly , depends on moving into opposition blindsides to get into shooting positions. That’s not exactly possible from the CF position. Auba is better suited out on the right where he can take advantage of lay offs from Laca and move withouth being marked. It’s not like he has to carry the ball or cross it anyway. He tucks in almost as soon as we get the ball.

    My preferred setup would be as follows

    Auba Laca Pepe
    Willian

    Willian would have the liberty to drift left and right to find the best possible attacking angle, but I’d also task him with carrying the ball out of defense on his own. I’d want him moving to combine with Pepe and Bellerin to create overloads on the right . A combination of the 3 of them moving inside and outside of the defending fullback would create a whole lot of room for Pepe to deliver that now trademark cross to Auba on the opposite end of the box. I actually see a lot of our goals coming like that next season. Plan B in the same combination, would be using Pepe to draw the fullback, then playing the ball between the fullback and the Centerback for Bellerin to cutback to a striker. Plan C would be for any of the 3 to just shoot.

    Long story short, with the coming of Willian, I think most of our creative force will shift to the right flank . Or at least I think it should.

    1. Joe Allysons says:

      Concentration was a bit all over.
      Auba is better suited on the left
      Arteta may verywell be planning to play willian in the middle.

    2. Sue says:

      I’d love to see that set up!

      1. Joe Allysons says:

        Makes the two of us sue

        1. Sue says:

          Saw some potential line ups elsewhere for next season.. and a couple even suggested Willian would keep Pepe out! Willian’s stats for last season were better, yes, but finding a way to accommodate both is your set up – and our attack is sorted 👍 Really excited about that! Apparently we’re after at least 2 more players (Partey and Ceballos, if I have my way!)… what with Saliba joining and injured players returning… and Auba signing, (Please 🙏🙏🙏), the team is looking good!!! Can’t wait for next season!! COYG

          1. Joe Allysons says:

            Honestly , If we get Ceba , I’ll be happy but I wouldn’t have him starting unless we didn’t get Partey. That includes if we get him on a permanent. Thing is both Xhaka and Partey move the ball faster than him , Partey is almost as good a dribbler , and Willian is faster . I think Ceballos would then become more like a backup to Partey. I imagine that’s why he’s not the biggest priority for the recruitment team as it is. I can’t really find another reason for the kind of cocky deal they proposed to madrid. Also, why not just swap Ceba for Guen?

          2. Sue says:

            I personally can see him getting in the Real team!
            We’ll see how it pans out…. you know how slow we are conducting our business!! Be a long window 😂

    3. Siamois says:

      I have to agree, Auba should stay on the left, he is doing great!as already mentioned I’m not sure he’d score more goals playing in the middle,has Auba been complaining about playing on the left? seriously I mean.

    4. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

      Hi!
      CF:274 app 176 goals 54 assist
      I agree Auba and Lewy are different but one similarity is that they are both deadly in roughly the same area in the middle . I say it is slightly to the right but I won’t argue with anyone going with slightly left as both are equally possible based on data but it is somewhere in the middle.
      I think we might see flexibility when it comes to formations so I really look forward to the upcoming season.
      My reasoning for Willian on the left is simply if we look at numbers, his rough 8 assist from there would be nice to have compared to the current 5 from Saka. And he’ll probably score a few where as Saka has yet to prove himself in goal scoring.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. SueP says:

    Enjoyed reading your article. Good stats and versatility too. Definitely doesn’t look like we have taken a Chelsea reject. They had already offered a year longer than their normal policy so obviously saw what Arteta and Edu have too. If we get 2 out of 3 good years then that will be a plus in my book. Chelsea have the financial backing to go out into the transfer market. Our budget is more like the flea market

  5. Bob says:

    My guess, Mr Willian will definitely operating on the left flank of Arsenal with a fluid role in-between left-winger and attacking-midfielder with the main goal to create left flank overload when starting the attack.

    Defense phase: 5-4-1
    Bellerin-Holding-Luiz-Tierney-Saka
    Pepe-Rowe-Xhaka-Willian
    Auba
    *Willian fill the midfield park and left flank with his discipline off-the-ball attitude

    Transition phase 3-5-2
    Holding-Luiz-Tierney
    Bellerin-Rowe-Xhaka-Willian-Saka
    Pepe-Auba
    *Willian will provide triangulation with Xhaka-Rowe pivot in midfield or Kierney-Saka-Willian in left flank

    Attacking phase 3-4-3
    Holding-Luiz-Tierney
    Bellerin-Rowe-Xhaka-Saka
    Pepe-Auba-Willian
    *Willian will bring attacking force with his dribbling, cut-in, and shooting as left winger

    *Overloading the left flank*
    Holding-Luiz-Xhaka
    Bellerin-Rowe
    Pepe-Auba-Willian-Saka-Tierney
    *Xhaka will withold the left back position while Tierney is doing overlap. Xhaka has been doing that when Bukayo was plotted as left back
    *Tierney overlapping is a scheme which introduced by Sheffield united (and utilized by Lampard too!). No other club will perfectly use this strategy other than arsenal considering they have resourse of multiple versatile left-side attacking and defensive player (Tierney, Kolasinac, Saka, Willian). That overloading left flank has been used in final FA Cup, and we will see it more often with a fresh red-and-white Willian.

    I think we will not see a lot progreess in the right flank. It will be same Pepe cutting in, dropping deeper in between lines to help transition, bellerin’s surge, and bellerin covering right flank and receiving a long-pass to release pressure of the left flank.

    The triangulation, versatility, high working rate player, overloading the left flank are things we have seen from Arteta. We will see the evolution further. Willian will be an important actor.

    1. Joe Allysons says:

      Two issues with your strategy are .
      1. When the attack starts, there’s no point in attack to bounce the ball off. If Auba drops deep like Laca to link up play, he reduces his own advantage scoring goals. If he doesn’t drop back , Rowe and Xhaka have to bring the ball forward , leaving us wide open supposing one of them looses the ball.

      2. I don’t know too much about Rowe’s ball winning ability , but that lineup seems to suggest that Xhaka take ball winning responsibilities. Even in the past few games,Xhaka looked impressive because ball winning was Ceballos’s responsibility . Xhaka’s role was ball progression. That lineup is rather imbalanced.

      Just my opinion though.

    2. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

      Hi!
      Glad to see someone having a lot of faith in ESR and Holding.
      I also see him starting on the left.
      With All the Spanish and Brazilians joining the team, at the very least our games won’t lack creativity.
      Thanks for reading!

  6. GentleBris says:

    Doesn’t matter where he plays. Willian will singlehandedly improve our attacking prospect by 30%.

    Then you can count on him for consistency.

    Auba, Alexis , Willian.

    Our best buys in the last decade.

  7. GentleBris says:

    But then I think Willian will play 10.

    Auba Laca Pepe

    Willian

    If Laca stays of course.

  8. Declan says:

    Willian will play at 10.

    1. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

      Also at left wing and right wing

  9. Jah son says:

    Why isn’t anyone seriously asking if Willian is Aubameyang replacement?

    1. Sue says:

      No way!! He’s staying….

  10. Joe Allysons says:

    Bro, Everytime Auba has played as a CF, he’s had someone to draw attention away from him. Except in the his last season at the signal iduna where he played between Reus and Dembele. Everytime there has been a real CF in the team, he’s had to play as a support striker. It doesnt mean he’s less. It just means he’s not a CF

  11. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

    Hi again!
    For Arsenal: CF 66 app 40 goals 10 assist
    Golden boot season, more than half was played as CF where the majority of goals were scored, I think about 16 , I could be wrong.
    I think it is more productive to think of him as an attacker that’s deadly somewhere in the centre . How he gets there is debatable sure but what we can confirm is that he can play anywhere up front and will instinctively shift close to the middle where he has been scoring for his entire career.
    Another contributor has mention similar Aubameyang traits as you have and I agree with both. Just tiny disagreements like sure he gets a wider angle on the left but why bother if he’s so accurate with his right foot on the right?

    Good discussion !
    And thanks again for reading !

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