Willian might not have been man of the match, but he served another timely reminder over why he’s one of Chelsea’s MVPs in the 4-0 win at Brighton.
Back in the autumn, and with rumours of interest from Manchester United mounting, it seemed Chelsea and Willian were set for a sad divorce.
The Brazilian was regularly overlooked by Antonio Conte, with the former Shakhtar man often having to make do with fleeting cameos off the bench.
But an injury and a loss of form suffered by Alvaro Morata forced Conte into a rethink – and the Brazilian’s return to his very best form has been a major plus for the Italian over the last six weeks.
His performance in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Brighton exemplified the belief the Brazilian is now playing with. His movement, energy and drive were simply too much for the the Seagulls to live with and his understanding with Eden Hazard was in full flow as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead inside six minutes.
7 – Willian has been directly involved in seven goals in his last five Premier League starts for Chelsea (3 goals, 4 assists). Movement. pic.twitter.com/TritUjtgaV
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018
And after playing a role in the opener, the player was on hand to score their second, with a brilliant sliced finish – and at the end a flowing move in which he stated.
A goal of the season contender? It probably won’t win the prizes, but it’s as pleasing on the eye as any we have seen this season.
🚨 GOAL OF THE SEASON CONTENDER 🚨
Beautiful from Willian! pic.twitter.com/sKRnNVEpo8
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 20, 2018
Despite the odd shaky moment at the back, it was a cushion Chelsea never looked in danger of letting slip, and with Willian at the forefront, the Blues always looked a threat on the break.
Indeed, the Brazilian showed his authority he has at Chelsea when, midway through the second half, he took command of a free-kick from a dangerous position outside the box. Cometh the hour, cometh the man; his brilliant free-kick inches from making it 3-0 with only an excellent Mathew Ryan save pushing the effort onto the post.
As it went Hazard went on to score his second of the afternoon and take home a deserved man of the match plaque too. And while the Belgian quite rightly takes the plaudits as Chelsea’s star turn, make no mistake about it, the Blues carry so much more threat when they have Willian alongside him in and in this sort of mood.
Willian appreciation tweet
— Tara (@Rhona0505) January 20, 2018
Manchester United’s imminent signing of Alexis Sanchez means any deal for Willian was always unlikely anyway. But given the chance, you can bet your bottom dollar Mourinho would love to be reunited with the player at Old Trafford.
However, if the Blues made a mistake in allowing Nemanja Matic to move to the north-west this summer, there’s not a chance in hell they will repeat it any time soon and allow Willian to follow the Serbian to Old Trafford.