Willian made yet another appearance for Arsenal, replacing Emile Smith Rowe against Leeds and immediately dropping the level of the team, but that was nothing compared to the comments on social media about him.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: Willian of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leeds United at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Adam Davy - Pool/Getty Images)
Willian looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leeds United at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Adam Davy – Pool/Getty Images)

I don’t want to pick on Willian. I actually thought he would be a good signing when he arrived, albeit on inflated wages. Chelsea had wanted to give him a two-year contract and he’d only said no because he’d wanted three. Last season, he’d played very well indeed.

This season, however, he is a man lost and it is no lie to say that his presence on the pitch drops the Arsenal level quite significantly.

It also makes a mockery of the claims that Mesut Ozl was excluded due to football reasons, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Arsenal stroled passed Leeds but it certainly got hairy in and around the time Emile Smith Rowe departed and Willian was introduced. I get trying to play him through his slump, but at some point, when allowed to continue long enough, a slump just becomes your form and there are plenty in the Arsenal squad who will be wondering why he always gets a chance.

If it was down to fans, he certainly wouldn’t:

10 January 2021

Mikel Arteta explains what he’s going to do about Willian

Mikel Arteta has said that he will keep persisting with Willian despite the Brazilian enduring the wrath of Arsenal fans with his performances.

Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian vies with Newcastle United's Swedish defender Emil Krafth (C) and Newcastle United's English striker Andy Carroll (R) during the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Willian vies with Newcastle United’s Swedish defender Emil Krafth (C) and Newcastle United’s English striker Andy Carroll (R) during the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

It seems there isn’t much Willian can do wrong in the eyes of Mikel Arteta, so much so that it was an indication of just how badly the Brazilian was playing against Newcastle on Saturday that he was actually taken off.

Willian flew to Dubai on ‘urgent business’ that was obviously nothing of the sort and faced no punishment, unlike others. In short, there seems to be something very weird with Willian given that Nicolas Pepe need only to look the wrong way to find himself benched.

That’s Nicolas Pepe who has five goals and three assists versus Willian with his three assists.

Fans had been hopeful we could see a period without Willian in the side, especially as Arsenal were back to being awful with him in the starting lineup and much better when he came off. Admittedly Emile Smith Rowe had more to do with that, but it’s hard not to feel there is a connection between the football Arsenal play and Willian’s status as a starter.

Alas, Arteta will not be giving Willian a break.

Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) vies with Newcastle United's Swedish defender Emil Krafth (C) during the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) vies with Newcastle United’s Swedish defender Emil Krafth (C) during the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

“I think he was improving and improving,” Arteta said when asked about Willian’s form after the game. “The other day, he came on really well against West Brom. He’s been out as well because he was ill, so he’s missed almost two weeks of training and football.

“Today was the first time that he started the game. He had some good moments and he had some other moments that he needed more help sometimes, and some decisions weren’t the best.

“But we’re going to keep trying with him.

“He shows in training how much he wants it, he had some highlights in the game and it’s about keeping the confidence in him.

“We know the player he is.

“I think when the team is winning it’s easier [to keep confidence up] because there is more time to do that process. He needs to build the relationship with some players.

“Today he played in a slightly different position as well.

“We’ll get there.”

Somebody really should tell Arteta that Willian is a 32-year-old Premier League veteran, not a 17-year-old kid taking his first professional steps.

18 November 2020

Willian sucks up to Arteta but is still in trouble with Arsenal

Willian has been singing Mikel Arteta’s praises but it remains to be seen if that’s enough to save him from the manager’s wrath after he slipped off to Dubai during the international break.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Willian of Arsenal in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 04, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images)

With the Premier League doing their best to kept their bubble intact and their multi-million pound show on the road, footballers are subject to even more stringent restrictions than us mere mortals.

Imagine Arsenal’s surprise, then, when they discovered Willian had flew to Dubai for reasons yet to be determined.

Arsenal have already lost Mohamed Elneny for a match or two after he tested positive thanks to his friend and teammate, Mohamed Salah, going to a wedding.

Speaking to FourFourTwo about Arteta’s potential, Willian said: “He’ll be a top manager, I’ve no doubt about it.

“The potential is there, as is the ambition. In a few years he’ll be considered one of the best managers in the Premier League – and the world.

“Obviously you must win trophies to be considered one of the best, and it will happen for him sooner rather than later [It’s already happened, Bill, pay attention].

“I’m impressed with the way he talks and explains his tactical thoughts – he’s quick to read the game and make adjustments when needed. It’s been fantastic to train under him so far and I’m learning a lot.”

Willian may be impressed with Arteta but it seems unlikely Arteta will be with the Brazilian.

Fans were already getting fed up with him before this. How it goes down will largely determine the ride Willian gets for the rest of the season from the fanbase.

7 November 2020

“He will be one of the best”: Willian praises ‘unique’ Arteta

Willian thinks Mikel Arteta is heading for the top as a coach, showing a unique outlook on football during his time with Arsenal.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal greets Willian of Arsenal as he is substituted off during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on September 19, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Will Oliver - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal greets Willian of Arsenal on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Will Oliver – Pool/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Daily Mail this week, Willian discussed his new club Arsenal, and his new coach Mikel Arteta. The former Chelsea winger traded Stamford Bridge for the Emirates Stadium over the summer, and he likes what he sees from his new club.

“The way he [Arteta] sees football is different,” Willian said. “The structure, the way he talks, his advice. It’s unique. He will be one of the best I think. He just wants me to be the same player I was at Chelsea. Take the ball and go one on one. Dribble, take shots.

“Arsenal have a great coach and a great chance to fight for titles. We can win the league. Maybe not this time, but next time. I’m motivated to have more success.”

Of course, Willian had the option to stay with Chelsea this summer. He was on a good run of form with the club, and they were offering him a two-year deal.

However, it’s clear that the 32-year-old was unhappy with the way his old team were approaching the contract issue. He felt Arsenal made a much more enthusiastic approach, as opposed to Chelsea refusing to negotiate anything more than those two years.

“They knew how much I wanted to stay,” Willian admitted. “I wanted to be a legend for the club. It was strange. But Arsenal was different. Every day they called my agent and wanted to meet or talk. They really wanted me to go there.

“That’s the difference. I see one club that made a lot of effort for me to go there, pushing a lot. And another who just said: ‘Two years or go’.”

The early weeks of the season certainly suggest Willian has the faith of his new manager. He’s already up to seven starts in all competitions, six of them in the Premier League. The only league game he missed was through injury.

But to earn the faith of the Arsenal fans, he needs to start scoring and assisting. After two assists and a shot leading to a goal in his first game against Fulham, he’s been drawing blanks in front of goal ever since.

30 October 2020

Willian hits out at English media twisting his words on Arteta

Willian hit back at the English media on Friday, after they twisted his praise for Mikel Arteta to come off more like criticism.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Willian of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 04, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Willian of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match on October 04, 2020. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images)

Arsenal summer signing Willian spoke to the Brazilian media this week about working under Mikel Arteta. Unfortunately, he found his words distorted and twisted to make negative-sounding headlines from an undeniably positive interview.

Below is a photo of the Daily Mail’s headline and tweet promoting their article. I’m not providing a link, because that’s what they want me to do. Don’t look it up, we’ll provide the quotes for you in this piece.

Misleading tweet and headline from the Daily Mail on Willian
Misleading tweet and headline from the Daily Mail on Willian

In Willian’s response on Instagram, he includes screenshots of the Express, the Mirror, Metro, The Sun, and the Daily Star, all carrying similarly misleading headlines.

He writes that his comments were “clearly praise and positivity” about Arteta’s coaching style, but “bizarrely twisted to appear as criticism”. He suggests the newspapers “find better translators or be more honest and ethical in their work”.

The genuine quotes from Willian were as follows: “It’s been a great experience and a new one for me. I’ve not worked with a coach with this way of thinking before.

“The positional games doesn’t mean you don’t have freedom on the pitch, but a lot of the time you need to respect the position, what the manager asks for, his instructions, knowing that it’s what’s best for the team.

“A player might not see that much of the ball and get frustrated, but that’s what Mikel always tells us, ‘just wait a bit, the ball will come’. I’ve been learning a lot.”

Once again, I want to emphasise that you shouldn’t go to these publications to complain about them directly. That just gets them the hits they want.

Go and like Willian’s post, share this article, consider blocking or muting their accounts on social media. Help provide the damage to their reputations without also giving them the hits on their site. That’s the only way we encourage them to stop.