If you ask any Arsenal fan to name our two most criticised players this season, they’d say Willian and Nicolas Pepe.
The former is proving to be one of our worst signings in recent times. Willian has played 19 times in all competitions so far this season and he is yet to score. He has three assists to his name – two of which came on the opening day.
He has attempted 12 shots at goal in the Premier League so far but just two have been on target. (Infogol) That is an abysmal record for a player of his quality and experience, but nobody knows how to get him back to his best.
‘We’re going to keep trying with him’, said Mikel Arteta when asked about Willian’s poor form. (Arsenal.com) That doesn’t quite fill you with confidence, does it? Is the Arsenal boss even confident himself? Recent decisions say otherwise.
Arteta doesn’t quite trust Willian
Both Edu and Arteta went above and beyond to get Willian earlier in the summer. The Brazilian was viewed as someone who would make an impact whenever required, but it looks like the Arsenal boss doesn’t fully believe that himself.
Arsenal were in desperate need of a goal in the game against Crystal Palace last week. Arteta turned to his bench to find an answer to the Eagles’ low block, but it was Pepe who came on, not Willian. The Brazilian remained an unused substitute.
On the flipside, Arteta decided to bring Willian on in our recent Premier League fixtures against West Brom and Newcastle. Both games were in the bag when the Brazilian came on which showed again that the Gunners boss was persisting with him to help boost his confidence.
Sadly, that came in Pepe’s expense as he wasn’t given a chance in either of those game.
Pepe’s confidence is shattered
The above instances show that Arteta turns to Pepe when he is need of a goal but ignores him otherwise. It’s never easy for a player to come off the bench and have an immediate impact in a season where he has barely been used in the Premier League.
Pepe couldn’t deliver in the game against Palace and he was left on the bench in the following game. The Ivorian’s confidence is already low, but Arteta’s preferential treatment towards Willian is just making things worse.
Yes, the former Lille man has been far from consistent. We have only seen flashes of how good he is, but he has failed to show his true quality game after game.
However, bringing him on against teams like West Brom and Newcastle who were already beaten would have given him the chance to have an impact. Sadly, Arteta hasn’t done that and that is hurting Pepe’s confidence even more.