Arsenal’s Willian problem

Mesut Ozil may be halfway out the door, but there is still Willian.

At a time when Arsenal have just about managed to unshackle themselves from Ozil, they are still only five months into a three-year commitment to a player who is actually older than the German.

After the 32-year-old Brazilian’s disappointing performance in the FA Cup tie against Newcastle United last weekend, manager Mikel Arteta mounted an unconvincing defence. “We’re going to keep trying with him”, was the heart of it. It was a declaration of intent to persist, rather than one of absolute faith — and a statement that contains an admission that, right now, this simply isn’t working. Actions speak louder than words: with Arsenal chasing a winner in their next game, against Crystal Palace, Willian remained an unused substitute.

A coach will inevitably back their player, especially when they have played a key role in their signing. Arteta and Willian spoke…

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