This season has become largely frustrating for those involved with Chelsea and has led to talk of changes being made in the near future. The club has failed to replicate the success of last term’s title-winning campaign, producing a largely mixed bag of results, including heavy defeats to the likes of AFC Bournemouth and Watford, whilst also putting in a solid performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.
The beginning of the football calendar had seen the Blues drop the three points to Burnley at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the campaign, with two players also sent off in the game; however, Antonio Conte’s men finally started to get back into the rhythm of things. Alvaro Morata had started off his Chelsea career in fine fashion, helping the Londoners keep pace at the top of the Premier League table.
The Spaniard’s performances then started to drop, whilst others have also not hit the high notes they had during last year, although one man who has continued to put in the passion and effort when on the pitch is Willian. The Brazilian attacker has been the only man to provide the Blues with some positivity in the recent matches, with him being the key difference in where Chelsea are now rather than where they could be.
Willian effective when used by Chelsea
Conte has decided to use the former Anzhi Makhachkala winger sparingly this season, with the attacker starting 14 of his 27 matches in the top flight, although those appearances have only become more frequent in the past few weeks. The manager has used Willian more in the cup competitions rather than the league as he looks to impress during those limited opportunities.
In the Brazil international’s last six starts, he has scored five goals, including a delightful one against Barcelona, although he had hit the post twice before finding the back of the net. His impact is equally more impressive when he does not always get into the team from the beginning like some of his other teammates who have failed to impress so far and it shows how good and vital a player he is to Chelsea.
No surprises in his performances
It probably should not come as a surprise that Willian is the only player to appear to be performing for a sinking ship this season, as he did it during Jose Mourinho’s meltdown year in 2015-16 and won the club’s Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year awards by a huge margin. The awards came in a season that was far more disastrous at the time for the Blues, however, the way this year is starting to shape up, it could be an exact copy of that challenging time.
The Portuguese manager, who brought the winger to the Premier League in 2013, is rumoured to be interested in bringing him to Manchester United this summer, meaning Chelsea should be doing their best to keep the only player who is consistently performing for the side at Stamford Bridge for the long run, despite a small minority of fans that still seem to criticise anything he does negatively, whilst remaining silent when he has made the biggest impact during the 90 minutes.
Header image by Aleksandr Osipov (Willian / Виллиан) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons