The curious case of Willian: an ‘obsession’ of Edu and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Social media doesn’t always gauge the full opinion of football fans, but the discourse after a defeat is usually a distinct indicator as to what worked and what didn’t.

Aston Villa’s dismantling of Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday brought the Gunners back down to earth after what had been an impressive couple of weeks.

The win against Manchester United at Old Trafford – a first in the league for over 14 years – was rightly applauded and Mikel Arteta’s side followed it up with their third consecutive victory in the Europa League against Norwegian side Molde.

Villa’s three goal thrashing in north London sent a stark reminder to Arteta that his side still have plenty of work to do.

Willian received a large amount of the criticism from fans after a drab showing on the right of Arsenal’s attack. The Brazilian has struggled to exert his influence on the team after initially starting well in the season opener at Fulham.

Signed on a free transfer after his contract with Chelsea expired in the summer, Willian is a player who has long been admired by Arteta and technical director Edu for a number of years. One source involved in the deal to bring him to Arsenal told that he’s an ‘obsession’ of Arteta and Edu.

Edu in particular knows the player’s medical history from as far back as his days in Corinthians academy. It was no surprise to see Arsenal move for the 32-year-old in the summer, but questions were rightly asked over why the Gunners decided to offer him a three-year contract.

Willian will be 35 when his contract comes to an end. understands that he turned down a big-money offer from David Beckham-owned club Inter Miami FC which would have seen him become one of the highest paid players in the MLS, but was it a mistake on his part to stay in London instead?

His difficulty in influencing games cannot solely be blamed on the player himself and it’s something that Arteta took full responsibility for following the defeat to Villa.