Arteta says criticism of under-firing Willian is not unfair

Mikel Arteta admits criticism of under-fire Willian is ‘normal’ and not ‘unfair’ as Arsenal’s £220,000-a-week signing continues to struggle after joining from Chelsea

  • Brazil star Willian has continued to struggle since moving to Arsenal last summer
  • Questions were asked of Arsenal handing the veteran star a lucrative contract 
  • Boss Mikel Arteta says it is not ‘unfair’ that the winger is now being criticised
  • Spaniard did, however, add that Willian is doing what is demanded in training 

Mikel Arteta has not rushed to the defence of Arsenal’s under-performing summer signing Willian, but instead surprisingly admitted that the heavy criticism aimed at the 32-year-old is not ‘unfair’.

Willian signed for the Gunners to much fanfare in the summer, after leaving Chelsea as a free agent and committing to their London rivals.

After failing to hit the ground running for Arsenal the Brazilian has found himself in and out of the team under Arteta, and his manager now admits that criticism directed at the misfiring star is ‘normal’.

Mikel Arteta (left) says the criticism of summer signing Willian (centre) is not ‘unfair’

Speaking to the Guardian this week, Arteta said: ‘I don’t say it’s unfair because expectations are really high in terms of the goals he can score, the assists he can create. 

‘You expect him to be in the starting line-up, so it is normal that people write things about him.’ 

Arsenal had hoped to have turned a corner when it came to their old troublesome habits of allowing ageing players to hold on to money-spinning contracts, yet Willian was still permitted to come on board as one of the club’s top earners.

So far Willian has failed to score in 24 games and provided only three assists for Arsenal

The 32-year-old is said to be earning in the region of £220,000 per week at the Emirates, and was paid an eye-watering signing-on fee after initially completing his move. 

While Arsenal have recently struggled in the Premier League, Willian has had to settle for a place on the bench in their past six games, joining the action as a substitute but making little impact.

So far Willian has failed to score in 24 games and provided only three assists for his new club.

Arteta, however, was quick to note that the winger is taking orders well during training and performing to a high standard.

The Arsenal boss says the Brazilian is working hard in training and meeting all demands

The Arsenal boss added: ‘What he is doing, the way he is training, the way he is working and the way he is pushing to give everything at the team, is what I demand. 

‘Whether he is more or less successful in the game is another matter. It will come, with the quality he has.’

Willian is in line to start for the Gunners on Thursday night as they meet Portuguese giants Benfica in Europa League action.

Due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, the two sides will meet inside Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, in a fixture slated as a ‘home’ leg for Benfica. 

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