Can Willian kick on at Arsenal after vital Leicester performance?

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Can Willian kick on at Arsenal after vital Leicester performance?

Arteta praises Willian

Arsenal managed to pull off a impressive 3-1 victory away at Leicester City on Sunday afternoon much helped by the performance of Willian.

The Brazilian arrived at Arsenal from Chelsea and the summer on a free transfer after his contract expired in West London. He has so far been unable to convince Arsenal supporters that it has been worth the wages and time invested in him so far.

However, the two assists and stellar performance from the 32-year-old buoyed many fans and especially his manager Arteta.

“He was really good,” Arteta said. “We’ve seen that in training the last few weeks. He’s rebuilding himself and he’s not accepted the situation.”

Can Willian kick on at Arsenal after vital Leicester performance?

PIRAEUS, GREECE – FEBRUARY 25: (2ndL) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring the 3rd Arsenal goal with (L) Willian, (R) Alex Lacazette and Bukayo Saka during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between Arsenal FC and SL Benfica at Karaiskakis Stadium on February 25, 2021 in Piraeus, Greece. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on, and today I think he was terrific.”

“The same with the other senior players. Laca, I think the way he played, Nico grew in the game and had a big impact as well. Granit as well. A player who has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and the passion he showed in every action, I think it’s a great example for the rest of the players.”

What next for Willian?

It is important that the former Chelsea winger does not linger on the successes he has finally produced in the last match.

The ex-Brazilian international is costing The Gunners a significant amount of money per week on wages and needs to repay that faith with consistency across the remaining games of the season.

The question will be is where Willian will play? It is unlikely that Arsenal supporters would be in favour of seeing the Brazilian start in the next game over the likes of Bukayo Saka. However, the injury to Emile Smith-Rowe could open up an opportunity for him.

The England youth international was taken off against Leicester with a suspected hip problem. Arteta, whilst bringing in competition for the 20 year-old in Martin Odegaard, has decided at times to play both attacking midfielders together with Smith-Rowe operating on the left.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Brighton, England.The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Brighton, England.The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

With him out, Willian could stake a claim for the left wing position with Bukayo Saka operating on the favoured right hand side. This then begs the question where Nicolas Pepe will play after he too has discovered some form in 2021?

The end result is a selection dilemma which will come as a good problem for Mikel Arteta to solve. It will be interesting to see whether or not Willian can in fact push on and turn the tide of opinion surrounding him from a proportion of The Gunners’ supporter base.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 26 36 62
2 Manchester United FC 25 21 49
3 Leicester City FC 26 15 49
4 West Ham United FC 26 9 45
5 Chelsea FC 25 16 43
6 Liverpool FC 25 11 40
7 Everton FC 24 4 40
8 Tottenham Hotspur FC 25 14 39
9 Aston Villa FC 24 12 39
10 Arsenal FC 26 7 37
11 Leeds United 26 -1 35
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 26 -6 34
13 Crystal Palace FC 26 -14 33
14 Southampton FC 25 -12 30
15 Burnley FC 26 -16 28
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 26 -7 26
17 Newcastle United FC 26 -17 26
18 Fulham FC 26 -11 23
19 West Bromwich Albion 26 -35 17
20 Sheffield United FC 25 -26 11
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 17
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 15
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 14
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 13
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 13
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 12
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 11
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 10
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 10
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 9
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 9
Barnes, Harvey Leicester City FC 9
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 9
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 9
Maddison, James Leicester City FC 8
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 8
Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 8
Soucek, Tomas West Ham United FC 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7

Source: 101greatgoals.com