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‘Dangerous obsession’ – Arsenal fans send message to Mikel Arteta following Aston Villa defeat

What seemed, at least to some, a common sense piece of business in the summer is rapidly becoming an expensive millstone around the neck of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal as Willian delivered another indifferent performance for the Gunners.

The Brazilian was selected ahead of Nicolas Pepe in Arteta’s front three against Aston Villa and once again failed to offer sufficient evidence to support why that decision was made, let alone justify his huge contract after arriving on a free transfer from Chelsea in the summer.

Willian’s inconsistency at set-pieces immediately caught the eye but so too the way that Villa’s vibrant midfield and attack made him and his Arsenal teammates look so pedestrian and pragmatic.

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In truth, it’s harsh to place the burden of blame on one individual but Willian’s constant inclusion – he’s started seven of a possible eight Premier League games – has revealed a further concern.

As fans discussed on social media, that Arteta’s stubbornness and commitment to players who fit a certain model in terms of their attitude or application of his game plan, as opposed to the more unorthodox talents of, say, Mesut Ozil or Pepe could be holding the Gunners back.

With the international break now upon us it gives Arteta time to rethink, with Leeds United next up in the Premier League on Sunday, November 22, and based on the consensus among Gunners fans, Willian should not be in the starting XI for that contest.

Over the course of the 65 minutes he was on the field, as he was replaced by Pepe, Willian enjoyed 41 touches, had two shots and completed one key pass and one dribble but it’s a level of production that Arteta would expect so much from a player of his experience and ability.