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October 20, 2020

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Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta speaks out on Willian’s performance in Man City loss

2 min read

The Brazilian had an underwhelming match playing an unfamiliar role (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has defended Willian’s performance against Manchester City in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Etihad and says the Brazilian could play as a centre-forward again in the future.

Summer signing Willian rather surprisingly lined up through the middle against City, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left, Nicolas Pepe on the right and two strikers left on the bench.

But Willian had an ineffective evening and was eventually removed from his position through the middle, with Arsenal immediately improving, and many fans questioned both his role in the side and selection ahead of players like Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette.

Willian struggled to impact the match playing as a centre-forward (Picture: Getty)

But Arteta was happy with what he saw from Willian and believes he will grow into the role, suggesting it may not be the last time the 32-year-old lines up through the middle.

Asked about Willian’s unusual position against City, Arteta explained: ‘We need to have the versatility to play in different formations, occupying different spaces.

‘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.’

Asked if he was happy with Willian’s display, Arteta continued: ‘Yes, in some moments better than others.

Arteta intends to try using Willian through the middle again in the future (Picture: AFP)

‘But I think he will grow and understand better that position as we use him in other occasions, maybe surround him with other players as well.

‘But I’m happy with the game he had.’

Arsenal’s defeat against City extended their long wait for an away win against a top-six side and leaves them in fifth place in the Premier League table on nine points.

MORE: Bernd Leno reveals what Mikel Arteta told Arsenal players after Manchester City defeat

MORE: Arsenal fans angry with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang laughing with Ilkay Gundogan after Manchester City defeat

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