Why Willian is proving to be a great signing for Arsenal

Why Willian Works

 

Ever since Arsenal were linked to the Brazilian in the summer, a growing section of the fanbase have been questioning the wisdom of handing sizable wages to a player that had fallen out of favour at a rival club. Some didn’t particularly mind the size of the contract but the length. Do we really think a 34 year old Willian could still cut it in the Premier League?

 

However, in the subsequent wave of criticism that followed his signing and poor performances earlier on in the season, a lot of things were missed.

 

First off, about the signing itself: Willian was brought in for dependability. Everyone knew how streaky Pepe was. Arteta knew he couldn’t depend on streaky Pepe for 38 matches week in week out. The club was not exactly flush for cash and then the Willian situation developed. The 31-year-old was by this time a veteran of Premier League and Champions League football. He was not exactly Salah or even Eden Hazard but he was a regular for a club that won the Premier League, Europa League and reached a couple of finals on the side. His performances mostly ranged from decent to very good and by the time he left the noisy neighbours, he was as experienced as they come. Forget the numbers for a moment, that is particularly attractive when your wing options are only teenagers who haven’t yet played a full season of football. Willian was signed for his experience and dependability.

 

Another reason for his signing was the fact that he offers a different profile to most of our wing options. Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli are all best as inside forwards who run off the ball. Only Saka on the left was able to operate creatively between the lines and he was needed elsewhere. Willian’s play was in his ability to receive the ball under immense pressure and in the small spaces of the final third without losing it. That was something we sorely lacked and needed. Even prototypical inside forwards like Mane and Salah are extremely capable of doing this. Since Aubameyang’s return to the centre forward position and Lacazette’s displacement, our need for creative wingers in the final third has only increased. This is why Willian always plays. He is the correct natural profile for the role. Playing all of Pepe, Auba and Martinelli especially when we are not purely counterattacking is asking for a lack of ball retention in the final third which makes it difficult to sustain attacking pressure. Sustaining pressure is the holy grail of attacking football. If you can somehow keep recycling the ball around the final third with penetration and without losing it for long periods, you will most likely end up scoring.

 

Until we bring in another winger with the same natural profile (Grealish, Eze, etc), Willian is an obvious shoo-in for matchdays. Fans may not understand it but that is the tactical reality. That is how the coach and most coaches understand football. As fans, this may be frustrating but once we understand what they are doing, we can perhaps scream less every time we see Willian starting over Pepe.

 

Agboola

61 Comments

  1. gotanidea says:

    Willian has made more assists than the likes of Pulisic, Ziyech and Havertz in EPL. We have also not lost a game when he started on the left wing

    1. siamois says:

      First all of them were injured for a decent amount of time then the fact that you would compare 2 young players on their 1st season in a new country&best league to a veteran like Wilian is baffling as for Pulisic on top of his injury he has more competition to deal with hence his lack of playing time compare to Wilian this exact statement has been posted on twitter numerius times now for the last few weeks these are just random tweets with no context…how sad.

      1. gotanidea says:

        – Arsenal’s system is different than Chelsea’s
        – This is Willian’s first season at Arsenal
        – Willian got dropped for many games
        – Pulisic, Ziyech and Havertz cost Chelsea 180+ M
        – Willian is already 32, whereas those Chelsea superstars are in their primes
        – Yet Willian is still able to produce more assists in EPL

    2. Reggie says:

      A really bent and twisted article to try and justify the unjustified. Willian has been a massive disappointment for me, a few good games changes absolutely nothing, we need far more far regular to justify his presence.

      1. Stewart Macintosh says:

        agreed. I had thought the article was going to be in jest…

      2. LtDan says:

        I’d condense that down even further. A few good ‘moments’ in games,not entire games. Add up the sum total and Willan hasn’t produced anything substantial

  2. Khadii says:

    Lol..
    But yet he hardly does any of the stuff you mentioned he’s supposed to do.
    Loses the ball easily, misplaced passes here and there, and an apparent lack of energy to apply himself.
    So i hope you understand why fans scream more when they see him starting over Pepe and Martinelli?

    The truth is Chelsea’s Willian was decent..
    Arsenal’s Willian is nowhere near good enough.

  3. Trudeau says:

    You’re a brave man Agboola, a brave man.

    While I don’t share the popular view that his signing has been a disaster, I also wouldn’t describe it yet as a great bit of business.

  4. durand says:

    Does Willian provide 200k a week worth of product? No, so he is not at the standard he should be. He can’t be bothered to defend most of the time, and how often does he take on defenders, wasn’t he brought in to do just that?

    Fact is we are wasting time with him, he is not the future of Arsenal; I would argue not even the present. Martinelli’s production his first year DWARFS anything Willian has done.

    Willian should only play when our wingers hit a rough patch; Pepe, Martinelli, and Saka. Otherwise, Martinelli is losing valuable development time for the sake of a retread.

    Even ESR offers more on the wing than Willian, more of a complete performance with tracking back.

    1. Ambrose says:

      We should have thought of what Peter Czech did to us, it’s a plan thing.

      1. ken1945 says:

        Ambrose, please explain what Czech did to us – it’s a very interesting statement to make.

        1. Phil says:

          @Ken1538- I believe he is suggesting Cech was a player brought to the Club who was clearly past his prime. Willian is thought of in the same way.
          I agree that Willian has consistently been poor since we signed him, but with the assist record he has to date, you have to wonder exactly what the player is capable of in a system that brings more out of him. I actually believe Arteta did a decent deal in signing Willian. He could realistically cover all three attacking midfield positions in a 4231 as well as be a useful cover option for ESR, Pepe, Saka and Martinelli when these players get more and more game time.
          As for Cech? We clearly brought a player to the Club who was on the decline. If Wenger had not offloaded Schezny and used him to be an understudy to Cech, I’m convinced we would have a better keeper at the Club than we have at the moment,

          1. ken1945 says:

            Phil, just like MA has recently done with Aubemeyang, AW had to do with Schezny… it’s all about discipline and we all know what player power did to UE.

            Now on to Czech and the post from Ambrose.
            What did Czech do that convinces you he was past his best?
            Just like every keeper we have ever seen, he made errors – look at Leno, Martinez, Fabianski and even “Safe Hands” himself (remember that last minute lob in the euro final?).
            The only thing I can fault Czech for, was trying to change his way of goalkeeping, when UE insisted he should play from the back.

            For me, Czech was a very good signing, while it still has to be proven that Willian is the same.
            Let’s not forget that, according to some, Czech didn’t have any kind of defence in front of him.

  5. Armoury says:

    If players like Willian can be considered good for Arsenal, then we are not going foward but backwards. Performing better in 2 games out of 22 is considered good, according to Arsenal standards?

    1. Phil says:

      Yeah Ken- Cech probably was a good signing but did we really need him to come in over an up and coming Schezney. And I am not knocking AW for the way he created Shez. It’s just a pity we list an excellent keeper the way we did

  6. Spencer (SLIMDARTI) George says:

    What a ridiculous article. He doesn’t do anything, in fact we play with 10 men when plays. The reasoning is ridiculous and flawed because Willian is not worth 200k/week and we need our young players to develop. 😡

  7. Emmanuel Moses says:

    We need every old head in that team cos’ when the chips are down, experience beckons. We can cry as loud as we want but he is with us for now and we can only support him. He can’t become bad overnight

    1. Danny says:

      Lol.. oh yes he can.. if the heart of playing is gone and you are only playing because you are contractually obligated to then you can become bad overnight

  8. Danny says:

    I hope Arsenal have finally learned their lesson regarding signing aging players on big contracts. There is a reason he signed for us over any other team…. £££ not because he wanted to play for us. Willian has his big last contract, he has nothing now to motivate him. The same goes for the ozil and Aubemeyang contract extension. Both ozil and Aubemeyang looked unmotivated and look like they don’t care after signing. When they were playing for the contract extension just look at how they were playing… that is not a coincidence.
    We offered the most, so they signed. If another club offered more they would of bolted..

  9. Armoury says:

    The article writer should be terminated from writing more articles about Arsenal. I don’t really understand what this guy is trying to justify. Players like Willian are degrading Arsenal brand

    1. Defund The Media says:

      “The article writer should be terminated from writing more articles about Arsenal”

      Dont agree with him so ban him… 🤦‍♂️

      “Players like Willian are degrading Arsenal brand”

      As are fans like you.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Armoury, I suggest you remember Voltaire. I too do not agree with this article; however censorship will not help this site.

  10. Mogunna says:

    We have; Nelson being waisted, Martinelli, Saka, Pepe who can alal play there.

    Auba as well if he has a flying winger there, allows him to stay close box’s side and score many as he done played that way in past

    Bellerin seemed to be getting back in form, too bad he did not play with Auba there’..

    An Arteta move as Luiz extention…We have enough players, young & talents…

    Chambers Holding, Gabriel or Mari should be all starting before Luiz, but always “one” added to Luiz.

    In both spots, we have so many options. No need Luiz & Willian

  11. jon fox says:

    A braveman is our Agboola, trying to defend the indefensible. By any sober analysis of the first three quarters of this season Willian has been little short of a complete flop and MA ‘s only poor value import.

    Of course we are all entitled to our opinions but it is really hard to understand how some people, such as Agboola, can actually believe the tosh he writes here. Fortuately, it appears he is almost alone in his fantasy opinion.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Jon, as you claim Willian is the only poor value import, care to explain why we are where we are result and in PL positions?
      You see Jon, I tend to agree with you on that statement, but fail to understand why then… we are out of both domestic cups, nowhere near the top four / five and yet Willian is the only flop?
      So what is the reason?

      1. jon fox says:

        OH DEAR, KEN! Not this old canard once again! Do please change the record! Since “you tend to agree with me,” how about you answer your own question and let me know too, while you are at it?

        If the names of Xhaka and Bellerin, both Wenger inherited, are included by any chance, I will better understand your answer.
        For clarity, I also do not understand why three managers in AW, UE and MA have all chosen Xhaka, though I venture the scarcity of funds to purchase a proper replacement have hampered our two most recent managers, Wenger having CHOSEN to buy him.

        1. ken1945 says:

          In other words Jon, neither you or I can explain why we are struggling at the moment!!
          I didn’t need a history lesson on who signed who etc.
          I was really hoping you could shed some light onto why we are struggling and why MA decided to persuade Xhaka to stay… it seems you have no answer, other than to blame AW for signing him!!!
          Brilliant reply Jon – or rather complete and utter nonsense with regards to not answering the question.
          MA could have sold him for a reported £30,000,000 plus, try and explain that away on anyone else.

          1. jon fox says:

            So many inaccuracies KEN, that I dont know where to start.I’ll start at your end question first. No serious fan belives that, despite that “report”, which it seems you always take more notice of than I do(as you do of spoken words and statements issued too)that any club would pay anywhere near that so called £30mill+ for rubbish Xhaka. So MA could NOT havesold him as you wrongly claimed.

            As to why we are struggling, there are many factors; changing the whole mewntality that has been around our club for a decad plus was always going to take time We have had far too many coasters and non committed players, going right back to Walcott and most, almost all, have now gone , esp since JAN.
            WE STILLHAVE SOME
            REGULARS WHO ARE WAY SUBSTANDARD ESP XHAKA. AND BELLERIN. Also Elneny, though not a regular. It is not possible to get all that rubbish out in a mere year and Xhaka at least IS a fighter, sadly often literally, as was Wrestler Sokratis.
            There is a new dynamism in our planning, though some will not accept that, All imports, other than Willian, are coming good and doing well. Willian was a bad misatke but as Phil said I think the idea of him was as general forward cover given his vast Prem experience.

            Auba has been a huge disappointment and should in no way be captain. I think it likely he will be here no more than next season, if even that, as MA has made amply clear he will not have idle players around. This season and even before Auba has been lazy and uncommittted.

            But by far the biggest curse and handicap is Kroenke. His meanness affects all would be and hoped for purchases, forcing MA and EDU TO SEEK CHEAP LOANS. THAT IS NO WAY TO RUN A BIG CLUB BUT MA SOLDIERS ON.
            Despite our many differences of opinion it seems that you too are now committed though not as I am, to MA, at least in the short term. I am convinced he will be here far longer than many imagine and I WILL BE DELIGHTED TO SE SUCH AS pHIL hh Mobella ICW Sen Williams Sue and others havig to eat thie words when we come good

            YOU HAVE NEVER ACCEPTED THE STATE AW LEFT US IN, I HAVE !

            THAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERNECE BETWEEN US WHEN MA ARRIVED. I COULD SAY MORE BUT I”LL NEVER CHANGE YOUR MIND AND VICE VERSA. BUT I STILL LUV YA ANYWAY, KEN OLD CHUM!

          2. Sue says:

            Why bring me into it?? That’s all it is with you, how you’re always right and everyone else is always wrong! Why don’t you stop slating all of our players (for a change) and get behind them?? Some bloody supporter!

          3. Sue says:

            ‘When’ we come good??? Oh so we’re not now then, Jon? That’s not what you’ve been ramming down our throats for the last year or so…..

          4. ken1945 says:

            Jon, both Xhaka and Arteta have said that the player was leaving, until that is, MA stepped in and persuaded the player to stay.
            Furthermore, this was reported BEFORE the coronavirus affected transfer values, so I’m not sure why you are arguing about the reported valuation.
            I’m sure you have read the latest statement by MA, talking about his admiration for the player and how he has come through two incidents to prove everyone wrong (Arteta’s words not mine!!).

            I just think that your assessment of Xhaka is completely different to Arteta’s and the proof is there for all to see.
            As for Willian being Arteta’s only mistake with regards to players, are you certain that the grotesque and obscene salary awarded to Aubemeyang was a good one and taking Ceballos on another year’s extension are good decisions?
            As for Willian (the articles main point) we must wait and see if Arteta is the man you say he is…. I just hope your opinion does not come back to haunt you aka Unia Emery.

          5. Highbury Hero says:

            Sue is not one of those you have mentioned (who most of them are misunderstood in my opinion and I think that warrants an article in their defence)

            Never seen her slate the manager. From what I have seen she enjoys her participation here and always stay clear of any toxic topics and discussions.

          6. Sue says:

            HH 😊 (thank you)

  12. The Real Vieira Lynn says:

    How does one conduct a rational conversation with someone who is so clearly irrational…cherry-pick all you want, but this was a disastrously conceived move for several reasons, such as his ridiculous wages, the promises he received regarding starting minutes and the counter-intuitive nature of such an acquisition when this was supposed to be a “rebuild” not a “retool”

  13. Sean Williams says:

    Watching Willian it is clear that up till now he has done very little for football at Arsenal and you are deluding yourself and us supporters, if you believe he has been a good acquisition.

    1. jon fox says:

      Sean, On a technicality, it is surely not possible to delude someone else. You can fool them but not delude them. Deluded people have only themselves to blame.

      Delusion is looking at the same scenario as everone else, including those not deluded, but coming to the wrong conclusion, but on your own.

      A good example of this is those who look at how MA has worked and come to the self deluded opinion that he is doing a poor job. The opposite is true, as many of us constantly tell the deluded ones.

      1. jon fox says:

        I should make clear that this is a very scaled down summation of delusion. Most actual delusions – as compared with simply calling someone “deluded” who is medically not deluded, are far more serious and disturbing than coming to the wrong conclusion about a mere football matter. I should probably have not cheapened the term “delusion ” by my too simple explanation, above this post.
        Most of us, myself included, bandy around cheap jibes that we know are not actually true in a physical or mental way and really we should not so lightly misuse the term “delusion” at all.
        I will try to avoid using it in a mere football context from now on.

    2. ozziegunner says:

      And as for Pepe being “streaky”, every time he has a run of games showing good form, he is dropped to the bench.

  14. Sean M says:

    Point of correction to commenters:
    Willian’s basic weekly salary is in the region of £100-120k (down from £150k at Chelsea), his signing on fee (+ agent fee) was between £5-7.5m + performance and loyalty bonuses. It is disingenuous to cite the sum of all of these payments unless you do so for every player.

    Comparatively, he was a pretty cheap signing (but he has been utter pants).

  15. Danny says:

    Only saw the headline and thought April’s fools day had come early what with that and Arteta dreaming of managing PSG got 2 for the price of 1!!

  16. AaronD says:

    Comments have been on point!
    One missing concept: Willian has proven to be adept at jogging about just out of reach of any opposing player. That’s not easily done. Most professionals (intentionally or not) tend to collide, tackle, foul, confront, or obstruct opposing players. Willian manages to avoid these behaviors for the majority of the time he’s on the pitch. Zero defense. Watch the games again if you disagree.

  17. Gooner-kc says:

    What twisted justification for Willians existance in an Arsenal shirt. An absolute waste of a salary and article. By the way, i am only responding to the title of the article

  18. Dan kit says:

    He might be having a bad season ,But it’s still better than having to watch players like Iwobi run down that touch line .

  19. Grandad says:

    Chelsea have displayed sound Management in unloading Willian and Luis in the knowledge that they are both past their best.What does that tell you about their counterparts at Arsenal? The words naive and incompetent come to mind.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Of course Grandad, we could quote De Broyne and Mata!!!
      The truth of the matter is that every club has made mistakes in the transfer market… what was the name of Chelsea keeper who refused to be substituted and how much did he cost???

      1. Dan kit says:

        Seeing Luiz as been our best defender this season that does not bode well for the rest of them does it

        1. Phil says:

          @DanKit- the issue is this Dan. For consistent performances it is very difficult to not agree that Luiz has been our best CB this season. He has had many very decent games. BUT. Arteta must know this season simply must be the end of Luiz as a first choice starter. If he is retained for cover and Carabao/EL ( I wish ) games I would see the sense of this. Apparently he is very good with the youngsters which is not always the case with older players.
          I would keep him on this basis but somehow I feel this is it.

          1. Dan kit says:

            Problem with him being our best def this season is that like you said he won’t be first choice next season so what is our defence going to look like next season ,because it’s been hit and miss this year so I hate to think what it’s going to look like come end of year and possibly no new signings in the summer .
            It’s not looking good for us ,and I’ve got a feeling it could take us years to get back to where we was 20 years ago .
            We all know that players like Luiz and Willian are stop gaps , which is fine as long as you have their positions filled and covered by the time they have left .which for Luiz atleast does not look likely

  20. Joe. S says:

    Wow a great signing, based on what? Some warped and twisted figures as well as a dangerously rosy view of what constitutes a good player. Great signings were Paul Merson, Bergkamp, Henry, Carzola and so on, and on. Made with vision and a need to make the team more competitive. How can anyone even contemplate making these comparisons? William was a nothing pickup, something to fill a gap as cheaply as possible while making it look like they were strengthening the team. William a league leading assists leader? Piffle! He hasn’t even been able to deliver a half decent corner. All William has done is destroyed Nelson’s career and set back Martinelli’s.

    1. Gunner4life says:

      Too right! I really hate him demanding to take free kicks, corners. Awful.

    2. Argooner says:

      We didn’t sign Merson, he came through the youth team.

      1. Joe. S says:

        My mistake.

  21. JW says:

    With Willian, Arsenal bought a “Pig in a Poke”. An old one at that, who will be sucking money for two more years. Who writes this rubbish?

  22. ThirdManJW says:

    Good form of late, but poor overall. Hopefully his good form continues

  23. Gunner4life says:

    He was potentially a great signing but was clearly picked on reputation rather than sharpness and fitness for too long. As a result we played with 10 plus a headless chicken. He is our current mikitarian and we all know how that ended. I can’t believe how poor he is Infront of goal. With him and our midfield of Xhaka, Partey Ceballos they offer no goals. That’s criminal for any side with ambitions of the top 4.

  24. Yossarian says:

    Very interesting article and point-of-view. Personally despite thinking Willian would be a good signing when it first came up, I’ve not liked him so far at Arsenal, but I’m not an EPL manager or expert on football tactics, and I think Agboola makes some good points that didn’t occur to me before.

  25. Logic says:

    😂🤣😂…..this is all I can do when I read this article. Man some of our fans are completely disconnected from reality and they call it being optimistic. Willian is a flop signing and it’s not only the fans but stats and every football pundit are saying the same. What next Xhaka is our Xavi and Eleney is inesta?? If we want to progress we need to wake up smell the coffee, start accepting our weaknesses so we can work on it. Sorry to say but players like Luiz, Xhaka, Eleneny, Cebollos, Bellerin, Arsenal Willian, Pepe are not good enough to take you back into top 4. This puts added pressure on the other good players or top level players we have at the club. You can disagree as much as you want but look at the table, this is exactly the mistake Arteta is making.

    1. Joe. S says:

      Please don’t kill me Logic. Laughing so much at those comparisons, that I might burst a blood vessel. Wasn’t there something posted recently on comparing Elneny to Messi? Might have been something I ate.

  26. Tony says:

    😂😂😂.
    God! Agboola’ your write-ups are always hilarious and more like a fiction..
    Willian’ oh Lord!.
    Forget.

  27. jon fox says:

    If Agboola has now read and digested all comments in this thread, which by now perhaps he has, would he now like to totally retract this whole article, I wonder? When so many people are openly incredulous at an article, warning bells ought to sound, at least if he is wise.
    I’d advise Agboola to think deeply and seriously before penning another article like this, where he really is one against the whole Gooner fanbase. This sort of mistake is where he can lose all credulity, even with his usually sensible opinions. This one is a real maverick though!

  28. Joe. S says:

    Hope William comes out against Liverpool and scores a hat trick to shut us all up. Reality is though I don’t even want him to start for Arsenal ever again.

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