Arsenal winger Willian has admitted that there are frustrating elements to playing under Mikel Arteta but says the experience is proving to be a good learning curve.
The Brazil international swapped life at Chelsea to move across London in the summer on a free transfer and is already a regular player in Arteta’s team.
Arteta’s approach is different from what Willian has been used to previously, though, as the Arsenal boss has adopted the disciplined ‘positional game’ approach of his former superior Pep Guardiola.
But while the manager’s style has provided some new challenges for the 32-year-old, Willian says he is relishing working with him.
“It’s been a cool, new experience. I hadn’t worked with a coach with that mindset,” Willian told Globo Esporte. “The positional game doesn’t mean that you have no freedom on the pitch, you have the freedom to move, but many times you have to respect the position, what the coach asks, the instructions, understanding that it’ll be better for the team.
“It may happen that you don’t touch the ball and get frustrated, but Mikel always says that, wait a minute, the ball will arrive. I’ve been learning a lot.”
Willian has already played six matches so far this campaign, though has been utilised in several positions as Arteta has frequently changed the club’s formation.
- Gabriel Martinelli returns to training ahead of schedule in major boost for Arsenal
- Tunnel footage reveals Benzema laying into Vinicius & telling teammates to snub him
New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have already hit the ground running after their big money arrivals, and the new-look Arsenal team are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this season.
However, Mesut Ozil’s situation continues to hang in the background and there’s plenty going on at the club to keep abreast of.
The Gunners’ head coach was forced to defend Willian following his performance against Man City though, after Arteta chose to play him in a more unusual central forward role.
“We need to have the versatility to play in different formations, occupying different spaces,” Arteta said after the 1-0 defeat. “I believe it was a game for him, the way City play, the way they attract opponents and the spaces that can be used.
“He was really convinced as well. It was obviously really hard to leave two strikers on the bench but it was a tactical decision.”