Willian key to Chelsea's Premier League title defense
There are moments when an outcome goes from being probable to inevitable. Something that seems likely gets confirmed as certain. Last season, there were a few moments that made the world believe that Chelsea's Premier League campaign would end with the trophy.
For me, one of the biggest moments was their victory over Everton. While not having the most successful season, the Toffees always give Mourinho's men trouble.
During the latter part of last year's campaign, Martinez's men were at it again, denying Chelsea the victory that was expected. But in the 89th minute, the West Londoners finally realized their potential, winning the match and providing strong evidence that their title bid would not be denied.
And the man responsible for this moment of brilliance? Willian. An unsung hero for most of the campaign, the Brazilian fired a beautiful strike into the corner of Tim Howard's goal, proving to be the difference between the two sides.
It was the breakthrough of the season. This served as the moment that I knew that the Blues would win the league. Two years ago, Chelsea wouldn't have won that match. They would have either settled for a draw or worse conceded a late goal.
But this goal defined the resilience that Mourinho's men displayed for the entire campaign. Willian was the hero, and the Blues were three points closer to realizing their destiny as champions.
These moments will need to be sprinkled throughout their 2015-2016 campaign. And as the season goes on, they'll need to be spread out amongst several players. Not just Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Players like Willian must step up.
Given Mourinho's resistance to add to the attacking ranks, the creative burden will need to be spread out amongst the players they already have.
Willian has often been pigeonholed as a defensive-minded winger. And this is true, he is defensive. He is often tracking back and winning the ball for his teammates. But his talent doesn't stop there. That's not why Mourinho stole him from under Tottenham's nose and why Shakhtar demanded such a fee for the Brazilian.
The attacking quality is there. We've witnessed it in small sample sizes. There are moments of brilliance where Willian appears to be the perfect complement to Hazard, making incisive runs, with quick bursts of speed and technical brilliance. And as his stay at Stamford Bridge continues, the more often his attacking instincts show themselves.
This season will need to be a coming out party for Willian. Not that he hasn't shown his brilliance already, but it'll need to be consistent. He needs to be a constant threat. And he has the potential to create headaches for full backs throughout the Premier League.
There is no doubting that Chelsea will be in the thick of the title race this year. And while typical stars will be the talking point, such as Hazard and Costa, it'll be players like Willian that will see Chelsea uphold their title defense.