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Can Willian kick on at Arsenal after vital Leicester performance?

Can Willian kick on at Arsenal after vital Leicester performance?

Arteta praises Willian

Arsenal managed to pull off an 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 in the summer on a free transfer, after his contract expired in West London. He has so far been unable to convince Arsenal supporters that the move has been worth the wages and time invested in him so far.

However, two assists and a 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 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 his 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 is 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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This article was edited by Robert Fosterman.

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Arsenal vs Fulham Full time result
Arsenal
7/10
Draw
13/5
Fulham
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Fulham 9/1
Draw 4/1 8/1
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang7/4 7/4 1/1
Alexandre Lacazette2/1 2/1 6/5
Eddie Nketiah11/4 11/4 6/4
Aleksandar Mitrovic3/1 3/1 9/4
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Premier League table
# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 32 44 74
2 Manchester United FC 31 27 63
3 Leicester City FC 31 18 56
4 West Ham United FC 31 12 55
5 Chelsea FC 31 19 54
6 Liverpool FC 31 16 52
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 31 17 49
8 Everton FC 30 3 48
9 Arsenal FC 31 8 45
10 Leeds United 31 0 45
11 Aston Villa FC 30 10 44
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 31 -10 38
13 Crystal Palace FC 31 -19 38
14 Southampton FC 31 -17 36
15 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 31 -5 33
16 Burnley FC 31 -17 33
17 Newcastle United FC 31 -19 32
18 Fulham FC 32 -18 26
19 West Bromwich Albion 31 -31 24
20 Sheffield United FC 31 -38 14
Premier League 20/21
Topscorers
Disciplinary
Assists
Player Team Goals
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 19
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 19
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 16
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 14
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 14
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 14
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 12
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 12
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 10
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 10
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 9
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 9
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City FC 9
Barnes, Harvey Leicester City FC 9
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 9
Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 9
Soucek, Tomas West Ham United FC 9
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 8