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"A shadow of his former self" - Merson slams Arsenal's Willian for sub-par performances

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side need a win
Modified 26 Dec 2020, 06:33 IST

Former Arsenal player Paul Merson has criticized Brazilian winger Willian's poor start to the season. Merson, now a pundit for Sky Sports, has urged Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to drop Willian for the game against Chelsea on Boxing Day.

Willian joined Arsenal on a free transfer from Chelsea over the summer, but the Brazilian has failed to show any of the magic he displayed at Chelsea over the years. The 32-year-old has yet to find the back of the net for the Gunners, and has barely had an impact on any of the games he has played in.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Arsenal's game against the Blues, Paul Merson lambasted the former Chelsea winger for his performances, and called for Willian to be dropped from the starting XI.

"He's been shocking. I'm a big fan of Willian and at Chelsea he was unbelievable. At times, he was unplayable but he is a shadow of his former self and I don't know what it is. He's the only one you can ask and again it must come down to confidence. I'm not sure he will play," he said.
"He's had enough chances to play, more than the other younger players. Arsenal's big-name players haven't been performing over the past six weeks or so and this is the problem Arteta has been having. [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang scored the other day, but he's not really looked like scoring. His body language hasn't been great, Nicolas Pepe is not even starting all the time and Willian just looks like he's being carried," added Merson.

Arsenal are in dire straits, as they sit in 15th in the Premier League and are only 4 points above the relegation zone. Mikel Arteta's side host Chelsea on Saturday, and have failed to win any of their last seven games in the league.

The Gunners are coming off a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, and things don't look to be getting any better for the struggling London side.

"I'd give him the captaincy" - Merson on Arsenal defender

Tierney has been one of the bright spots for Arsenal this season
Tierney has been one of the bright spots for Arsenal this season

Paul Merson was full of praise for full-back Kieran Tierney. The former Arsenal midfielder thinks that the Scotland international's performances have warranted him the armband at the club.

"I would give it to Tierney as he'd run through a brick wall for you. He's the one player I look at who gives everything, and I'd give him the captaincy. There's a way of showing how much you care, and the relationship he is building with Bukayo Saka down the left looks decent," Merson told Sky Sports.
"Arsenal need that all around the pitch, and at the moment they're in a relegation battle. For me, I don't see them doing what Burnley are capable of, rolling their sleeves up. Arsenal are searching for the perfect win but they need to start grinding out results," he added.
Published 26 Dec 2020, 06:33 IST
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