After another ineffective performance against Southampton on Saturday, it’s time to draw a line under the career of Willian at Arsenal.
There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Willian joined in the summer on a three-year contract, with many fans believing that we were getting a player whose best days were firmly behind him. The other half thought that we would maybe get one good season out of him before he started to decline, and his winning mentality would life a glum dressing room.
Presently, Willian’s two goal contributions on the opening day of the season remain the ‘high point’ of his Arsenal tenure, as his career has metaphorically fallen off a cliff. Since that opening day victory against Fulham Willian has made zero positive impact in any game he has appeared in, and his stats are beyond alarming for a player who won Chelsea’s Player of the Season on two occasions.
Arsenal have failed to score in open play in over eight hours when Willian has been on the pitch, and when unfortunately forced to bear witness to the attacking play under the Brazilian’s control it’s no surprise. So often laboured, he waits at least one second too long to play a pass, and when he finally does, it’s usually back towards his own goal. No adventure. No confidence.
Is Willian’s Arsenal career already over after seeing the Brazilian’s decline?
In 20 appearances for Arsenal he has registered two shots on target, both failing to cause any modicum of threat.
These are stats that are beyond laughable. What’s even more baffling is that Mikel Arteta continues to persist with him in the hope that things will finally click for him. Unfortunately, in doing this he has halted the progress of younger players like Reiss Nelson, who surely are deserving of more minutes then a player who cuts an uninspired and uninterested figure each time he takes to the turf.
Arteta has defended Willian publicly at every opportunity – as you’d expect him to – and has said that ‘we need to help him’ . This is a 32 year footballer who has been in the game for 15 years. Not a young prospect.
While he will never seek to damage his already faltering reputation, in defending Willian, Arteta comes across as someone too stubborn to admit that Arsenal have, categorically, made a mistake in signing him. It happens in football, not every signing is going to work, but don’t hinder our progress and exacerbate the problem by not cutting your losses.
It says a lot when Arsenal fans (who at the best of times don’t agree on much) all agree that Willian has been a colossal flop. You can almost hear the collective screams of frustration when he is announced in the starting lineup. There are even arguments suggesting Willian might just be the worst signing in Arsenal’s history. A big statement when you consider some of the rubbish we have signed over the years.
Willian himself as hinted that he is not happy at the club and that he isn’t used to the role that Arteta has him playing, and this shows in his body language on the pitch with him barely cracking a smile. There was even small rumours that a January transfer could be on the cards. This has been firmly nipped in the bud but we can only hope that a summer move is pending.
The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe has pushed Willian further down the pecking order, and he has been largely reduced to cameo appearances at the end of games which have already been won. With the further addition of Martin Odegaard his game time is set to decrease even further, something that is likely to cause increased disillusion.
Whether it’s down to confidence, a lack of interest, or his best days really are behind him, Willian’s short Arsenal career should be at an end already. His decline has been unfathomably catastrophic.