Chelsea have been one of the best teams in the Premier League this season, but there are still problems for Maurizio Sarri to resolve at Stamford Bridge. Willian has started ten of their league matches. It was expected that the Brazilian would be a key player for the side under the new manager, but his contributions to date have been disappointing. At the age of 30, he is a senior player and needs to be doing more to justify his role in the team.
There was a lot of interest in Willian over the summer, with Manchester United and Barcelona being linked with a move. It must have been tempting for Chelsea to sell considering his age. In hindsight, it looks to be a huge misstep by the club, as he isn’t performing on the pitch. This season, the 30-year-old has contributed two goals and two assists. His goal involvement stands at one every 194.5 minutes. As a leading attacker for a team competing at the top of the division, this is underwhelming.
A direct comparison to Pedro shows that Willian’s numbers aren’t great. His team-mate has contributed four goals and one assist in less time on the field. The Spaniard’s goal involvement stands at one every 101.6 minutes. Based on that very basic comparison, it seems obvious that it should be Pedro being favoured as a starter. Supporters wouldn’t want to see either in the starting eleven in an ideal world, as there is a lot of potential to upgrade in that area of the pitch.
Looking deeper into the stats, it becomes clearer why Willian is being given time. The Brazilian averages 1.6 shots, 2.9 key passes and 1.7 dribbles per game. Meanwhile, Pedro averages 1.8 shots, 0.8 key passes and 1.4 dribbles per game.
Although Pedro is performing better in front of goal, his overall impact on matches is less than Willian. The Brazilian causes problems for opposition defenders and that opens up space for the likes of Eden Hazard and Ross Barkley to do damage.
That said, his decision making and end product needs to improve if he is to continue his current role in the Chelsea team. There were times during the recent draw with Everton that Willian had opportunities to win the game, but he wasted them. That lack of efficiency is a problem in a team with big ambitions and Sarri won’t put up with it for very long.
The next six weeks are crucial for Willian as he needs to be more deadly in the final third and prove that he can play a big part in the next chapter at Stamford Bridge. If he continues to be energetically wasteful and flatters to deceive, Chelsea should consider entering the market for a player that can make the difference under Sarri.