'Expectations are high' - Criticism of struggling Willian is fair, admits Arsenal manager Arteta

The Brazilian forward, signed on a free transfer from rivals Chelsea in the summer, has not scored in 24 games for the Gunners

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits he understands why Willian has been the target of heavy criticism so far in his Gunners career.

Willian joined Arsenal from London rivals Chelsea in the summer on a free transfer, but has failed to score in any of his 24 appearances for his new club and has been dropped to the bench for their last six games.

Arteta feels Willian has the ability to come good, but accepts that the Brazilian will be a magnet for fan frustration given that he has so far failed to deliver on high expectations.

What has been said?

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal's Europa League round of 32 first-leg tie against Benfica, Arteta said:  “I don’t say it’s unfair because expectations are really high in terms of the goals he can score, the assists he can create.

“You expect him to be in the starting lineup, so it is normal that people write things about him.

“What he is doing, the way he is training, the way he is working and the way he is pushing to give everything at the team, is what I demand. Whether he is more or less successful in the game is another matter. It will come, with the quality he has.”

Why is Willian being criticised?

He has played 1,320 minutes across all competitions this season, and has not scored once. The 32-year-old has also only provided three assists all campaign, two of those coming on the opening day of the Premier League season away to Fulham, while the other was at home to Wolves on November 29.

While Willian did not cost a transfer fee, he is among the best paid players at Arsenal and supporters are frustrated that he is not justifying his wages.

When is Willian going to get his next chance?

The Brazilian forward could return to the starting XI for the clash with Benfica - being played at Rome's Stadio Olimpico due to coronavirus travel restrictions between England and Portugal - on Thursday night.

Willian will then hope for yet another chance to impress when the Gunners return to domestic action on Sunday, at home to leaders Manchester City.

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