Some Arsenal players were upset about preferential treatment shown to Willian prior to the game against Leeds United, according to David Ornstein of The Athletic.
The Brazilian made an unauthorised trip to Dubai during the international break and was allowed to start the match against Marcelo Bielsa’s side by manager Mikel Arteta. Some members of the Arsenal squad were unhappy about this as they felt other players have been more harshly punished for milder transgressions. There have been rumours about some discontentment in the Arsenal squad and this seems to be one of the reasons.
The former Chelsea midfielder has made a disappointing start to life in North London and is yet to score his first goal for the Gunners. Arsenal fans have been surprised that Arteta has kept his faith in the Brazilian and started him as many times as he has. He has made 15 appearances in all competitions this season and started 11 Premier League games. Arteta dropped him for the North London side’s most recent game in the league against Southampton which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Much was expected of Willian when he signed for the Gunners but he has so far failed to deliver. He created the eighth most big chances in the league last season (12) and the hope was that he would become the creative hub of this Arsenal side but he has created just four big chances so far in the 2020/21 campaign.
The fact that he has been given an extended run in the team despite his poor form coupled with being allowed to get away with a trip to Dubai that he was not supposed to have taken is troubling and Arteta must ensure that he addresses the issues surrounding Willian and strengthens harmony in the squad.
In all honesty, while Willian hasn’t set the world alight since his move to the Emirates, it is far too early to call the signing of the 32-year-old a failure. He must be given more time to succeed in North London but should not be treated any differently from the rest of the players in the senior squad.
It will be interesting to see if Willian starts for the Gunners in their next Premier League match against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Arsenal will be looking to secure their first win in the league since November 1st when they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.