Boxing Day sees Willian come up against Chelsea for the first time since leaving Stamford Bridge to join London rivals Arsenal.
Chelsea fan ANDREW SEABY has his say on the former Blues man and whether he can come back to haunt Frank Lampard’s side despite an awful start to his Arsenal career.
When Willian left Chelsea for nothing at the end of last season it seemed to me like a real blow.
He moved to north London to bolster Arsenal’s attacking options under the excitement that seemed to be building around Mikel Arteta.
As we approach our Boxing Day fixture at the Emirates, it couldn’t be going much worse for him.
Willian left Chelsea in the summer to join rivals Arsenal after turning down a new contract
Things couldn’t be going much worse for the winger with the Gunners 15th in the table
Let us be honest and admit that there seems to be a difference of opinion among Chelsea fans when it comes to Willian.
We all know our fanbase on social media can be toxic at times. But generally, he seemed to be like marmite – which is something I could never really understand.
Cast in the shadow of Eden Hazard, Willian made such an important contribution to Chelsea in many ways and the fans immediately took to him, knowing that he ‘got the call from Abramovich and off he went to Stamford Bridge’ (which is the song Chelsea fans would sing to remind us that he turned down a move to Tottenham).
The Brazilian made an important contribution during his seven years at Stamford Bridge
He was always willing to work hard and play a role for the team.
At times when Chelsea really struggled in the Premier League, languishing in and around mid-table, it was Willian and one or two others that really stepped up and delivered some outstanding performances.
His goals, assists and general contribution to our football club will always be remembered fondly by the majority and it was such a shame to see him go.
Arteta’s Arsenal seemed to be on the rise, having just defeated us to win the FA Cup. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang was about to sign a new contract and with some other important additions, it looked like Arsenal were taking steps forward to challenge for the top four once again.
All of us are surprised at how the season has played out so far with Arsenal taking three steps backwards instead of forwards. They sit 15th in the Premier League with Arsenal Fan TV now talking of being involved in a relegation fight!
The 32-year-old has struggled to live up to expectations since his move to north London
Willian has come under plenty of criticism for his lacklustre performances for the Gunners
Willian’s contribution has been poor but it’s not all on him. He looks a shadow of his former self and really low on confidence. Some sections of the Arsenal fan base have really gone to town on what he has offered them this season.
Things are so bad some fans have called for Mesut Ozil to come back from the wilderness to actually work for the fortune he earns.
Arteta has come under increasing pressure and you can understand why. They look like a team that is simply going through the motions with no real spark, no catalyst to grab the players by the throat to demand they pick themselves up and fight. Willian is, however, someone who can do that.
Arsenal have never been able to recreate anything like the invincible side under Arsene Wenger. Maybe the stadium project hampered their spending back then but they have never properly invested in the core of their team.
They just seem to be filling in the gaps with players that have never really stood up and made their position their own over the course of a season.
Mikel Arteta is under increasing pressure with his summer signing having disappointed so far
That is where they find themselves with a manager who looks like he does not know his best XI when everyone is fit and available. It is no wonder they are struggling at the moment. You have to wonder how the fans would react if Chelsea won at the Emirates for the second season running and how the result would be taken by the board.
Football can change quickly, as Chelsea fans will tell you. A sixteen-game unbeaten run with confidence high came crashing down with two poor performances against Everton and Wolves and the same could happen to Arsenal.
The derby with Arsenal has always been a big game and one the fans look out for at the beginning of the season. For Willian, it’s an opportunity to show Chelsea’s board why they should haven given him what he wanted.
He wanted to stay, Frank Lampard wanted him to stay, but it was not to be and I expect the Brazilian to be fired up more so than any other game so far.
Frank Lampard wanted Willian to stay at Chelsea but the two parties could not agree a contract
The forward made a habit of putting in impressive performances in Chelsea’s big games
Despite everything that has happened this season and where both clubs find themselves in the Premier League, we come into the game knowing that you have to earn the right to win games. There is no easy fixture, anyone can beat anyone on their day, and it all comes down to who wants it more, who is prepared to give everything.
Willian and his Arsenal team-mates have so much to prove and everyone at the club will be pumped up for the game. Chelsea need to match Arsenal’s desire and fight from the start.
It’s a game you know Willian will have pinpointed ever since the fixture list came out and one he’ll have been looking forward to. However, based on recent performances, there is no guarantee he will start.
It’s a shame it has turned out this way – I always loved Willian at Chelsea. But, as they say, that’s football!