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Where does Willian fit in? An analysis on how Arteta may utilise our new number 12 

Willian 1600x900 announcement

Chelsea’s long serving Brazilian was officially confirmed as our first addition in the summer 2020/2021 window. What I do like about this signing is that we have acquired the services of a player who has the ability to play multiple positions, which enables us to play different systems. Personally, I prefer him in the wider areas, but Arteta’s comments suggest to me that he could be played in more central positions. 

Potential 2020/21 squad 

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So let’s look at how we may shape up for next season. Just for the sake of this article, I am assuming we bring both Partey and Gabriel in, with Lacazette still remaining at the club for next season. There is the possibility that the situations of all three players mentioned here changes as we progress through the window.

Eventually, Arteta will transition to a 4-3-3/4-1-2-3 and we may see Willian play as an advanced eight. Even in a 4-2-3-1, the Brazilian may play the ten role and be tasked to drift in between the lines, connect the front three and provide creativity.

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Patterns of play/ and different systems we can deploy

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3-2-5 

So let’s look at attacking patterns. 3-2-5 pre COVID-19, with overloads created on the left, was a system we implemented in possession. The above diagram shows we can do the same here. Granit would slot in at left back, which allows Tierney to create width out wide, and provide us with an outlet. Bellerin takes an inverted position which maintains the midfield pivot. What this does is help us deal with counter attack situations and turnovers, if possession is lost further up field.  Aubameyang plays close to Lacazette, which occupies the opposition right back and gives Tierney space to put crosses into the box. Both Willian and Pepe would be fluid in their movements and tasked to interchange.  Same situations and patterns can occur through our right hand side, as shown in the diagram below.

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5-3-2 

Out of possession, we can easily transition to a back five and nullify threats from out wide. We have seen how effective this formation has been for us against the top teams such as Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea when we surrender possession and look to remain compact. Here, we could have Xhaka positioning himself as a left centre back with our talented Scotsman moving into left wing back. Partey provides the steel, aggression and physicality that is required in the centre of the park. Willian is renowned for providing intensity and work rate, therefore could definitely complement the Ghanaian international in midfield here.

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3-4-3

We can even utilise a three at the back system in an attacking sense. Both Bellerin and Tierney are deployed as wing backs, instructed to take advanced positions and would provide supply lines from out wide. Willian plays slightly further forward to Partey and would help progress the team forward.Screen-Shot-2020-08-16-at-11.46.42

 

4-3-3/4-1-2-3 

My preferred position for our new number twelve is through the wider areas. In the diagram below, he shifts to the left, with Aubameyang replacing Lacazette through the middle. A front three of Pepe, Aubameyang and Willian is fluid and possess the ability to  interchange, which would cause opposing teams all sorts of problems. Screen-Shot-2020-08-16-at-11.48.32

4-4-2

We could also switch to a 4-4-2 system, with Willian and Pepe out wide. Aubameyang and Lacazette both would occupy central positions, with a Xhaka-Partey pivot. 

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Strategy against low block 

Against opposition who implement a more negative brand of football, we can play Partey as the deepest midfielder, tasked to perform the role of both a ‘destroyer’ and ‘line breaker’. Both Willian and Ceballos play as two advanced eights and provide creativity as well as giving us a goal threat.

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Final thoughts 

Technically Willian is very good. A skilful player who can go past players and can carry the ball from deep. Statistically, last season was his best for Chelsea and the creativity he provides is a huge positive. Brazilian international, Premier League experience, winning mentality are aspects he provides us with that will certainly benefit the younger players within the squad.

I do believe that this signing is different to the dealings we have done previously, in recent times, with Chelsea. The signing of Petr Cech occurred because Courtois was preferred as the new number one, after a successful loan spell at Atletico Madrid. The Veteran goalkeeper would see his game time reduced drastically because of this, which enabled us to bring him to the Emirates. David Luiz arrived at the club because he clearly wasn’t in Lampard’s plans and long term vision.

So both these two players were deemed surplus to requirements. But Willian was clearly a player Frank wanted to keep for another year. A front three of Ziyech, Werner and Pulisic looks exciting on paper and would certainly cause fear to opposing teams if they are able to gel together. But the experience Willian provides was clearly an aspect they saw that would benefit their squad for next season.

Its a good start to the window but now lets address the key areas within the squad that will allow us to compete for top four.

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