Willian’s Breakthrough: The Right Man

He may not possess the set of dribbling skills like Eden Hazard or match the goal tally of Diego Costa but Willian Borges da Silva has certainly become key to Chelsea’s success this season.

The £32 million Brazilian purchased from Anzhi Makhachkala last season has worked his socks off to reach the first team squad. Today he is classed as one of Jose Mourinho’s fundamental players in the starting 11. With immense work rate, determination and pace he gives Chelsea a real drive whether he scores goals or not, the effort shown by Chelsea’s No. 22 appears his foremost characteristic, a Ramires of sorts.

The right wing perhaps has been the most competitive spot in the current Chelsea squad with World Cup winner Andre Schurrle being one of the top contenders on the right wing. Last season the German was picked before the Brazilian and this time around the Brazilian has triumphed over Schurrle and has governed the right wing. More so because of the German’s inability to find form, but none the less, Willian has taken his chances with both feet.

Work Rate

Mourinho teams have always been about that industrious quality. Every individual player has to work hard through the basics before they earn the right to showcase their more eye-catching abilities and hence we have seen highly-technical players like Eden Hazard and Oscar adding a different dimension to their games and help out defensively when needed. Willian’s industrial work rate is the one quality Jose Mourinho admires the most. It isn’t just about running where Willian is concerned, he creates chances and his movement is excellent. A complete counter attacking threat who is not afraid to shoot from a distance. When things go south in the attack he will be pressing the opposition and hustling them to regain lost possession.

Managers, players and supporters want goals from their wide men, If there was a list penned regarding their defensive contributions, Willian wouldn’t be far away from the top spot. Willian possesses an extra gear when it comes to his defensive qualities; his willingness to do the dirty work when the opposition is in possession, adding his own style and quality on the ball gives balance to the team making him a complete ‘Mourinho’ player.

Comparing Willian’s Stats from the previous season to the current season:

Year Matches Mins Goals Assists  Shots Shots on Goal Shots on Goal %
2013 25 1667 4 2 43 16 37.2%
2014 21 1351 1 1 37 13 35.1%

The Brazilian was first used as part of a squad rotation and today is a first eleven player. Willian was more likely to start against opponents who desire to possess more of the ball. He is known to help Chelsea win the possession battle and kick start counter attacks versus teams who commit more players in attack. A great example of this is the win against Liverpool (2-1) in December last season. With a disappointing passing rate of only 72% passes being completed and hardly any forward passes, he completed 4 take-ons, all in the opponents’ territory. On the defensive side, he managed four tackles, two interceptions, and six fouls. On pace for similar numbers this season, it would seem the Brazilian’s has reached his level, but the stats do not tell the complete story.

“I have to prove myself on a daily basis at Chelsea. I have to kill a lion each time, and I am dedicated to that.” – Willian speaking at a press conference.

Hazard is untouchable on the left and Oscar has immensely improved in the number 10 position. Willian has quietly; under the radar made the right-wing his own this season. If Chelsea do go on to win the league it’s players like Costa, Fabregas and Hazard who would be credited but players like Willian add the required balance to the team and their contribution might just go unnoticed to the fans around the world. He deserves a lot more praise than comes his way.

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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi

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