Arsenal’s summer recruit Willian admits playing under Mikel Arteta is proving a steep learning curve – and admits there are frustrating elements to life under the Spaniard.
Willian moved across London to join Arsenal in the summer after his release by Chelsea. He had spent seven years at Stamford Bridge.
The Brazilian winger had been open to staying with the Blues. However, they were unwilling to offer him a three-year contract.
That was a key factor for Willian, so he ended up moving to Arsenal instead. They did offer him the terms he desired, worth £220,000-per-week.
However, Arteta’s approach is far different from anything Willian is used to.
Having learnt under Pep Guardiola, Willian admits more time is spent on match preparation than he is previously used to.
Indeed, the tough tactical discipline and videos on player positioning are relatively new experiences for the Brazilian.
And while Willian admits it has been a period of adjustment for him, he is adamant he is enjoying playing for Arteta.
“It’s been a cool, new experience. I hadn’t worked with a coach with that mindset,” Willian told Globo Esporte.
“The positional game doesn’t mean that you have no freedom on the pitch. You have the freedom to move, but many times you have to respect the position, what the coach asks. The instructions, understanding them, that it’ll be better for the team.
“It may happen that you don’t touch the ball and get frustrated, but Mikel always says that, wait a minute, the ball will arrive. I’ve been learning a lot.”
Willian playing different positions
While most comfortable on the right side of attack, Willian has been used in a variety of positions already under Arteta.
The Gunners’ boss was forced to defend the Brazilian though following his latest showing against Man City. That’s after Arteta opted to play him in a more unnatural centre-forward role.
“We need to have the versatility to play in different formations, occupying different spaces,” Arteta said after the 1-0 defeat. “I believe it was a game for him, the way City play, the way they attract opponents and the spaces that can be used.
“He was really convinced as well. It was obviously really hard to leave two strikers on the bench but it was a tactical decision.”