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Troy Deeney believes Willian is getting harsher criticism than he deserves, days after Mikel Arteta backed the under-fire winger. Signed on a free-transfer in the summer, the Brazilian was expected to make an immediate impact for Arsenal after crossing London from Chelsea.
But in his first 18 games, Willian is without a goal and has registered just three assists.
The 32-year-old’s performances have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly since the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe.
Deeney however, believes that Willian needs to be given more time to adapt to his new club, with Nicolas Pepe’s struggles more concerning.
Pepe has been in and out of the Arsenal line-up since signing for £72million last summer, with Ian Wright labelling his most performance as “very, very poor”.
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And Deeney has claimed, more focus should be placed on him, rather than the struggling Willian.
“I think everyone loses confidence at some point,” he told talkSPORT.
“Everyone will say, ‘he [Willian] hasn’t moved far’, because it’s Arsenal and Chelsea, they’re both in London, but it’s a new environment with different people.
“When he was at Chelsea was he the main man? Probably not. Was there a lot of expectation? Probably not.
“Now he’s gone in there and they’re expecting him to deliver a mentality that he may not be able to do.
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“What’s happened is he’s started taking the kicking that Pepe deserves.”
“Pepe has been there longer than him; there was a lot of money spent on him and he hasn’t really delivered over the course of the time.
“If you’re going to spend £70m-plus, you expect to have done a background search to understand the guy’s temperament. How long do we give it?”
We say, ‘Willian has won all these things, he’s a Brazil International; Pepe’s worth this much, they’ve got to be to this standard’.
“But all in all, they play for the same team and they’re trying to get the same starting berth.
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“So the expectation has to go all the way around, but as we know in this game, the older lads get [criticism] a bit.”
Arteta handed Willian a start against Newcastle and backed his signing to improve – while also sending a pointed message that his best form must come soon.
“Well, I think he was improving and improving,” said Arteta. “The other he day he came on really well against West Brom.
“He had some good moments and he had some other moments where he needed more help sometimes and some decisions weren’t the best.
“But we’re going to keep trying with him. He’s showing in training how much he wants it.
“He’s got some highlights, and it’s about keeping the confidence on him. We know the player that he is and it’s about time to show it.”
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