'Much better': Arteta says 'crucial' Arsenal player has improved so much recently

Sam Preston April 7, 2021
Photo by RUI VIEIRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Willian has come in for widespread criticism at various times this season but Mikel Arteta feels he could be vital for Arsenal in coming games.

The Brazilian joined Arteta at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Europa League clash with Slavia Prague tomorrow night.

Arteta was asked about Willian’s maiden season at the Emirates Stadium and hailed the midfielder’s recent improvement.

Willian is yet to score for the Gunners but has laid on seven assists in 30 games across all competitions this term.

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“I think we can reach a higher performance level because his potential is so big,” said Arteta of Willian.

“He needs the contribution to the team and the team to be stable in order to provide what he needs to express himself on the pitch.

“It’s true that in recent weeks we’ve seen a much better version of him and his contribution when he is playing has been really positive.

“So it’s going to be crucial, his form, for the performance of the team in the last two months.”

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Arsenal thought they were getting someone who would come in and perform at a high Premier League level right away.

Instead, Willian’s first season in red and white has been disappointing, especially in terms of his goal return.

There have been signs of improvement recently and if Willian can help Arsenal win the Europa League, it would go some way to wiping away the memories of those very poor early months of his time at the club.

But there’s still far more for Willian to do to in order to prove he can be part of Arteta’s Arsenal future, which at present looks set to be build on the youth and energy of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.