The stats tell us Willian is a real bargain for Arsenal

Willian is Definitely Good Enough for Arsenal

Willian’s purported move to Arsenal has raised some questions among the fanbase. Apart from the question of his wages, supporters wonder if Willian is worth any of the trouble. He does not appear to have consistently great statistical output even though he has been heavily involved in a Chelsea side that has qualified for the Champions League two seasons in a row above Arsenal, appeared in an FA Cup final and has won the Europa League.
(Credit to Stitches_DC on Reddit for the analysis)

Last season, according to adjusted fbref data, Willian ranked as 15th out of 271 “creative players” and profiled as a very good chance creator with above average performance in every passing metric. Data indicates he is able to get the ball into the danger areas in multiple ways, which should be beneficial to Arsenal.

In live-ball situations, while he has a high rate of shots on target, it is not being converted to a high goal scoring output, so that breeds questions regarding the quality of his finishing or where he decides to shoot from. Since Willian also plays predominantly on the right for Chelsea, it might be a factor in his weak conversion as when he cuts in from the right, he has to shoot from his weaker left foot as opposed to cutting in from the left at Arsenal where he can shoot on a stronger left foot. Another explanation is that maybe he has faced above average goalkeeping across the season with the bottom line being that Willian has great potential for strong improvement on his goalscoring return. He’s shooting a lot but not getting the goals in return. Arteta could improve that.

Willian also profiled as an excellent ball carrier, in possession a lot and trustworthy in not losing it. He has an average number of attempts to dribble past defenders, but whenever he does try, he is very effective at it. When paired with his slightly more moderate goal and assists output, his dependable ability on ball is important to have. Does get criticized for slowing down play too much sometimes, which isn’t the best considering how good we’ve been on the counter-attack last season. However, going by observations from the possession-heavy part of Arteta’s tenure, we may not remain a heavy counterattack side next season.

Defensively, Willian is a pretty average defender in every way, shape, and form. Around middle of the pack in take on attempts and in rate of success. Does come back on defense to help out and seems flexible enough to adapt to Arteta’s more press-heavy style, although his age would make you wonder how long he can keep that up.

Willian is generally an above average winger, a “glue” player who can help to elevate the overall quality of most teams. He does need to work on his shooting efficiency, but has a great creative profile to engineer chances for his teammates to score. And on a free at the rumored 100k a week wages, he holds good value in the creative area we need at a very low price.

Overall, Willian is an excellent ball-carrier: holds onto a lot of possession, rarely gets dispossessed, and who has an impressive ability to dribble past a nearby defender. With a moderate to above average total output (goals, assists, dangerous passes), his trustworthy dribbling and on-ball possession helps improve his profile and make up for lack of elite creative output.

98 shots created from open play passing (3rd highest in the PL).
145 shot-creation actions (5th).
68 passes into the box (6th).
5.02 shot-creating actions per 90 (6th).
71 key passes into dangerous zones (7th).

A simple comparison with Nicolas Pépé shows that Willian is about equal on assist and goal metrics, has a significantly better creative passing profile, gets dispossessed much less per carry, and has a much higher percentile in dribbling success rate. Pepe is obviously going to get better and he is younger, but that comparison should help illustrate what Willian would look like: we will be better with him on the left.

Willian can be an important cog in a team whose all-around ability can help elevate a team through complementary play. A very good passer, trustworthy and generally progressive dribbler, and a solid, flexible defender: a real glue player. At the rumored 100k a week wages (plus add-ons), Willian will be a bargain. And, of course, it also helps that he is a Tottenham-hater lol!

Agboola Israel

24 Comments

  1. ArsenalAfroArmy says:

    Fun read!

  2. Grandad says:

    How did the game survive pre stats?Have our eyes now been made redundant by the deluge of information which pours forth. I am showing my age I know but stats would not influence me if I were assessing a player other than to check out his injury record and age.

    1. Siamois says:

      Stats on their own don’t tell the whole story,90% passes completed seems high but ifmost of them are to your GK or all are short, backwards under no pressure….I mean what the…..?context is needed like many things in life,I think?

    2. Ackshay says:

      Watching a player play gives you much more accurate info on his different qualities and deficiencies than stats which is why scouting will never be redundant in football. But stats when used correctly give us an additional layer of information about players and allows more comparison to be made. The key is knowing how to use these statistic which is the job of professionals.

      At least you aren’t whining about stats just for the sake of it

      1. Loose Cannon says:

        Agree, like the case for Ozil, 54 feeble passes in his Arsenal career to the striker/center forward who uses his individual skill and brilliance to score the goals and he gets the “assist” tag. An assist should be awarded to someone who dribbles past opposition and finally lays the ball down to some else to score due to tactical reasons. Take the case of the FA finals, a pre assist for Bellerin, assist for Pepe(who made the correct decision) but Auba’s brilliance got us the winner. Stats are mostly used as an excuse / apology to glorify some player according to one’s perception of the player. Willian is a good ball carrier and direct forward moving player suited fro high tempo matches/counter offense and should do well, even if we do win the EL in his first season, then his transfer will be justified. We should look as to what the player offers to the team on match days.

        1. Sid says:

          I don’t think all of his assists were merely feeble passes to the striker/CF! His skill and vision were also involved in most of these.

  3. Top Gunner says:

    Arsenal are desperate to lure Willian to Emirates, but Chelsea don’t worry about losing him. That tells you that he’s highly rated at Arsenal than in Chelsea

    1. Siamois says:

      Chelsea policy is that they don’t offer more than one year contract to players in their 30’s but they offered Wilian a 2 years contract that should tell you something no?also Lampard said he didn’t want to lose him.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Siamois, it’s amazing how many times you have to repeat some things to people hoping they understand.

        1. Siamois says:

          I know!I I have seen you in that same position many a time too !😀👍

    2. Siamois says:

      Facts! who really care about them right??

      1. Rory johnson says:

        Exactly lol, hes an obvious troll, parrots the same ridiculous comments over and over and when people reply he says absolutely nothing, waits for another willian article then repeat! Straight from the troll handbook,

        Absolute saddo and clearly not an arsenal fan.

  4. Eric Wonderful Wandah says:

    Thanks, guys.

  5. Top Gunner says:

    So, Arsenal don’t worry anymore about players who have passed 30yrs? Wenger used to have the same policy as Chelsea. This new management is it showing improvement or downfall?

    1. ozziegunner says:

      No, Willan has the right agent, as did Luis. That’s not to say Willan won’t work out.

    2. Siamois says:

      Don’t shoot the messenger!I was just explaining the situation that’s all ,and you’re right Wenger was the first one to implement it years ago!

  6. Kklin says:

    I love your reply to Top Gunner, @ Siamois. Can we at least wait until Willian kicks a freaking ball in an Arsenal jersey before we bring out the nails and hammer?

  7. Grandad says:

    To get a great deal at Arsenal it would appear to help if you are a client of Kia Joorabchian who must be making a fortune off of our Club.Perhaps even more than the salaries of the Scouting staff we paid off recently.It’s a sad state of affairs when a club like Arsenal is virtually in an incestuous relationship with an agent who ‘s prime objective is to line his own pockets.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 My thought exactly, Grandad.

  8. jon fox says:

    I admire Agbooola s deep research and his intresting writing style. However, as with Grandad, and I suspect many fans who gre upo wellbefore the currebrt stas obseesion became the norm, I am deply suspicious of a total reliance on stats , to make a judgement with less than thr necessary use of eyes and brin. SOME stats-not all, not by along chalk, can be a useful guide, but I WOUlD PUT IT NO STRoNGER THAN THAT.

    Stats has, sadly, become a multi million dolar industry worldwide but my long life experience has taught me to be aware of the dangers of obsessions with new and as yet unproven methods. Eyes and brain were perfectly OK as tools for all the managerial greats of yesteryear and only a fool prefers TOTAL ADDICTION TO STATS, instead of them! A minor addition to eyes and brain would be my preference!

    1. ozziegunner says:

      jon, hard work when the computer system goes down and you’re back to pencil and paper.

      1. jon fox says:

        OZZIE, “HARD WORK” IS IMPORTANT IN FOOTBALL. IN FACT VITALLY SO AND NO ONE SHOULD EVER BE AFRAID OF IT. FANS SHOULD BE AFRAID ONLY OF THOSE LIKE OZIL WHO HAVE A PHOBIA AGAINST HARD WORK.

  9. Herbz says:

    Even without stats, William is above everyone called a winger we have at the club.

    So this is a massive improvement if you add in the fact that No. 11 has been vacant since Iwobi was sold.

  10. Herbz says:

    There are some players with unique skillset that are difficult to bypass.

    Willian is one of them even at his age.

    I would also go in for Thiago Alcantara as well. At 29 years that’s why the likes of Liverpool want him.

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