Arsenal will protect Willian against criticism, according to Mikel Arteta

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The manager of Arsenal football club, Mikel Arteta, says Arsenal will protect the club’s summer signing, Willian against criticism which he has been subjected to so far this season.

Willian joined Arsenal last summer when his contract with Chelsea expired. The North London club offered the 32-year-old right-winger a bumper contract which is expected to keep him at Arsenal until June 30, 2023.

When his transfer deal to Arsenal was announced on August 14, 2020, most fans of the club were excited not because he came as a free transfer but because of the value, the Brazilian winger was capable of adding to the team.

Interestingly, Willian’s first few matches for Arsenal were filled with interesting performances which made some Chelsea fans lament over the decision to allow the Brazilian to join a rival club.

Unfortunately for Willian, he could not make such a performance a consistent one and he dropped from the radar. Even in the few games, he had to play for Arsenal, that brilliant run and eye for goals that the winger is known for while at Chelsea, are hardly seen in his game.

Hence, most Arsenal fans can not do without criticizing his stay at the club and calling him unprintable names. Even the fact that he has provided three assists in 18 Premier League games has not been able to erase the anger of the fans towards his inability to score goals.

In defense of the 32-year-old winger, coach Mikel Arteta told the critics of Willian to be patient with him, adding that the Brazilian will return to his best.

While speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League round 32 game against Benfica which will be played in Rome, Italy instead of Portugal due to coronavirus restriction, said he is happy with the work ethics of Willian.

He also noted that the criticism against the winger existed because of the expectation Arsenal’s fans have placed on him based on the winger’s known abilities.

Willian and Arsenal's coach Mikel Arteta.
Willian and Arsenal’s coach Mikel Arteta.

“I won’t say it is unfair”, Mikel Arteta said. “Expectations of Willian are really high in terms of the goals he can score, assists he can create. We have to protect him.

“What he is doing at the moment, the way he is training, the way he is willing to give everything to the team is what I demand.

“Whether he is successful in the game is another matter, but it will come with the quality he has.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal are expected to break the jinx of not being able to defeat Benfica since the first and only meeting between them during the 1991-1992 European Cup campaign.

The London club have enjoyed victory over all the Portuguese clubs Arsenal have faced in the past except Benfica which recorded a 4-2 aggregate win over Arsenal during the 1991-1992 European Cup campaign.

Their meeting on Thursday, February 18, 2020, marks the second season they are meeting in a European competition. The match has been scheduled to kick off at 20:00 in Rome.