Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has signed the exact type of player he needed in Willian, according to former West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. Willian joined Arsenal on a three-year deal this summer following the expiry of his contract at Chelsea. The Brazilian rejected Chelsea’s offers to stay as they were not prepared to give a three-year extension to a 32-year-old.
Willian made his Arsenal debut on the opening day of the Premier League season on Saturday and had an immediate impact.
The winger, who was picked ahead of Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka, assisted all three goals in a comfortable 3-0 win for Arteta’s side.
Arsenal have often been criticised for a lack of leadership in recent seasons, both at the back-end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure and the unsuccessful spell for Unai Emery.
But Hislop claims Willian brings those qualities into the Gunners’ dressing room.
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“Yeah, without question [Willian was superb],” Hislop told ESPN FC.
“Maybe surplus to requirements at Chelsea but exactly what Arsenal needed.
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“Arsenal as we’ve been saying for some time, talented squad but really lacked a backbone, needed leaders in that dressing room, and Willian has come in and provided both, certainly in terms of leadership. You saw that out on the park today.
“Everything about Arsenal today, as good as it was, comes with the caveat that it was against Fulham.
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“But Arsenal needed leaders, they needed leadership, they’ve found them both in Willian and you saw it. Now they have to build on that.”
Chelsea have spent big in replacing Willian, bringing in the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz.
But former England striker Peter Crouch has suggested it was a mistake for Chelsea to let Willian leave, especially as the decision has now strengthened a direct rival.
“It’s a perfect day for them,” Crouch said on BT Sport.
“Him, [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang – it’s a top front three isn’t it and it’s capable of beating any defence.
“He’ll be really pleased with his performance, I think Chelsea will be disappointed to see him go really.
“I know they’ve brought some players in but it’s strengthened a rival of theirs because it’s definitely going to help Arsenal. He was a class act again today.”
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