Willian opens up on his struggles at Arsenal and sends warning to team-mates over ‘difficult’ Slavia Prague clash

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League
Arsenal summer arrival Willian has had a tough debut season in north London (Picture: Getty)

Willian says he went through the ‘worst time’ of his career in his first few months with Arsenal but is now ready to perform on a more consistent basis and ‘reach the level’ he previously did at Chelsea.

The 32-year-old attacker joined Arsenal on a free transfer last summer and had a hand in all three goals as Mikel Arteta’s men thumped Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League campaign.

But Willian badly struggled to live up to expectations as the Gunners sunk to as low as 15th in the table and the Brazil international is still yet to get off the mark for the north London outfit.

The forward has, though, racked up four assists in his last five games and there are signs he could be returning to the sort of form that made him a star across his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

Willian looks on in Arsenal training
The Brazilian is feeling confident about his game again (Picture: Getty)

Reflecting on his miserable initial months at Arsenal, Willian told ESPN Brasil: ‘It really was a very difficult start, apart from that first game against Fulham where I produced a good performance and had a good game.

‘Even after that game there were some games that we won and I had a good game, but then we ended up having a bad streak.

‘I also had a bad run from a personal perspective and I think it was my worst time as a professional to date, since I came through the ranks at Corinthians, moved to Ukraine and then Chelsea, without a doubt.

‘Of course, when you’re in a difficult moment you get really upset and try to find solutions, a way to improve and to try to help the team. That’s what I’ve been doing all this time, I never stopped training, working and dedicating myself as much as possible.

‘It took a little while to leave me but in the last few games I’ve been playing well again, standing out with assists and playing well so I’m happy to have returned to playing well.’

Arsenal Training Session
The ex-Chelsea man is yet to open his account for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

The two-time Premier League winner added: ‘I feel ready to reach the level that I reached in a Chelsea shirt.

‘This is my desire which I hope to reach by the end of the season and I will try to do my best to help Arsenal in the best possible way.

It’s all part of football. It’s happened with me and it can happen with other players too, but now I am a lot more confident. 

‘When you’re playing well and the team is on a winning run you gain more confidence and that’s how I’ve been feeling in recent games.’

Willian believes Arsenal can become a genuine force in the Premier League once again as long as they are able to cut out silly errors which have cost them so dearly across the season.

He went on: ‘The mistakes which we’ve sometimes been making in games, I don’t see that in the teams that are up there in the table, for example Manchester City and Manchester United.

‘There have been games where we’ve been dominating the opposing team and sometimes we give the goal to the opponents.

‘I think that this has made life very difficult and that is why we’re not having great consistency during the games. But I’m sure it’s an adjustment and we are improving in this area.

‘Arsenal has everything necessary to go back to fighting at the top of the table.’

Though confident of Arsenal’s chances in the Europa League, Willian feels he and his team-mates cannot afford to take anything for granted against ‘difficult’ quarter-final opponents Slavia Prague.

Asked whether the Gunners can be a serious challenger in the competition, Willian replied: ‘Yes, that’s a goal we have.

‘We are still far from the final but the idea is to go step by step, game by game and we have a difficult match against Slavia Prague.

‘They are a compact team which also has quality so we have to have confidence and go game by game but we certainly have chances.

‘We believe we can reach the final, yes.’

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