Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has defended Willian’s performance against Manchester City in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Etihad and says the Brazilian could play as a center-forward again within the future.
Summer signing Willian rather surprisingly lined up through the center against City, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left, Nicolas Pepe on the proper, and two strikers left on the bench.
But Willian had an ineffective evening and was eventually faraway from his position through the center, with Arsenal immediately improving, and lots of fans questioned both his role within the side and selection before players like Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette.
Willian struggled to impact the match playing as a center-forward (Picture: Getty) But Arteta was proud of what he saw from Willian and believes he will grow into the role,
suggesting it’s going to not be the last time the 32-year-old lines up through the center. Asked about Willian’s unusual position against City,
Arteta explained: ‘We got to have the flexibility to play in several formations, occupying different spaces. ‘I believe it had been a game for him, the way City play, the way they attract opponents and therefore the spaces which will 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.’ Asked if he was happy with Willian’s display, Arteta continued: ‘Yes, in some moments better than others.
But I think he will grow and understand better that position as we use him in other occasions, maybe surround him with other players as well. ‘But I’m happy with the game he had.’
Arsenal’s defeat against City extended their long wait for an away win against a top-six side and leaves them in fifth place in the Premier League table on nine points.