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Talking Tactics

New signings: Willian will add creative flair to Arsenal

Adrian Clarke 31 Aug 2020
Willian, Arsenal

Adrian Clarke expects the winger signed from Chelsea to make a big impact on the back of his most productive Premier League season

Adrian Clarke assesses players who have changed clubs this summer and can make an impact in 2020/21.

Willian (ARS)

The next stage of Arsenal's evolution under Mikel Arteta is to develop as a creative side. Their 2019/20 statistics in that department were telling.

Last season Arsenal ranked a low 16th for their 246 chances created in open play.

Furthermore, their total of just 299 chances created was 15th among Premier League teams.

Positive step

To stand any chance of a top-four finish in Arteta's first full season as head coach, this area quickly needs to be remedied.

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The acquisition of Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea is a major step in the right direction.

The 32-year-old arrives on the back of a terrific season, scoring nine Premier League goals and adding a further seven assists.

In terms of direct goal involvements it was the Brazilian's most productive campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Willian's first Arsenal interview


This Arsenal side is blessed with several outstanding finishers but, as the stats outline below, they do not carve out enough opportunities.

Willian's arrival should inspire instant improvement.

He remains one of the league's best players for laying on chances for team-mates.

Last season Willian's 76 chances ranked seventh among Premier League players, while in 2018/19 his total of 79 was the fifth-best.

From open play and set-pieces he consistently delivers quality end product with his right foot.

Willian's creative impact for Chelsea
Chances created Total PL rank Top ARS player
Overall 76 7th 40 Pepe
Open play 49 9th 26 Aubameyang
Set-pieces 26 10th 18 Ozil

Willian comfortably outshone Arsenal's chief creative talents during his 29 Premier League starts in 2019/20.

Remarkably, he made 36 more key passes than the Gunners' top performer, Nicolas Pepe.

Attacking versatility

As well as his creativity, Willian also gives Arteta flexibility up top.

He operates with equal comfort on the right, left or centre of the pitch, providing his new head coach with a wealth of tactical options.

Where Willian played 2019/20
Position Starts Goals Assists
Right wing 19 7 5
Left wing 5 0 1
Central attacking midfield 5 2 1

He is arguably at his best on the right, from where he delivered 12 goal involvements for Chelsea last season. So he could initially be competing with Pepe for a starting berth.

If Arsenal switch to a back four, it would be no surprise to see him used in a roaming central position. In that key role his dribbling and eye for a pass could prove a big asset.

Arsenal needed someone of Willian's class to bolster their attacking midfield, so this feels a smart piece of transfer business.

He has proven pedigree at this level and arrives in excellent form, so it will be a surprise if Willian is not a hit in north London.

Also in this series 

Part 1: World-class Ziyech can do the spectacular
Part 2: Lallana offers Brighton a cutting edge
Part 3: Hojbjerg can tighten up Spurs' midfield
Part 4: Salisu's physicality well-suited to Premier League
Part 5: Ake will balance out Man City defence
Part 6: Thiago Silva well suited to Lampard's style
Part 8: Eze can make Palace an attacking force
Part 9: Intelligent Rodrigo a natural fit for Leeds

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