Our no.10 takes centre stage as we continue to analyse how the season was panning out for our players ahead of a return to action.
Willian has been a regular in attack in what is his seventh year at Stamford Bridge, providing consistent goal contributions and bringing up an impressive milestone…
Willian: 37 appearances (nine as a sub), seven goals, six assists
‘My feeling at the start of the season was to tell him how much I feel about him and how important he is for the team. We wanted to get him fit and working hard off the ball because I know he can and the rest, in terms of what he does on the ball, I can let him do that because he has this incredible ability to burst away from people.’
Frank Lampard didn’t need to see Willian in training to know just what he can offer; he had played alongside the Brazilian in his final year at the club, and Willian’s first. Now he set about trying to get the best out of our new number 10.
'It's a bit weird he is my boss now!'
'Our best player'
A hamstring injury disrupted Willian’s beginning to life under Lampard the manager, but he dazzled when handed his first start of the campaign, away to Wolves, linking potently with Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham as we hit the hosts for five.
A sustained spell in the team followed, with Lampard describing Willian as ‘our best player in the last four or five games’ following the big win at Southampton. Included in that run of games was Willian’s first goal of the season, at home to Brighton, his first assist, at St Mary’s, and the impressive milestone of 300 Chelsea appearances. He marked it in style with a superb guided volley that won our second Champions League group game, away to Lille.
‘To achieve this number for this club is unbelievable,’ he told us. ‘It was my dream to come to play for Chelsea.’
The good form continued, with a goal and an assist at Burnley in late October, and then a captain’s performance at home to Crystal Palace, including a superb set-up for Abraham’s opener.
As our form suffered when autumn turned to winter, so Willian’s impact lessened, although he and the team were back with a bang in our first derby at Tottenham’s new stadium, with Willian roaming behind Abraham to devastating effect. An exquisite, curled finish put us ahead early on, and he doubled our lead from the spot before the break. A majestic touch and pass late on drew almost as many admirers, and cemented his status as the game’s outstanding player.
Willian then showcased that ability to burst away from opponents - often mentioned by Lampard - with his cute assist for Abraham’s late winner at Arsenal. Over the congested festive period, the 31-year-old played all but six minutes of our league fixtures, testament to his fitness and endurance. He has not been unavailable because of injury since the opening two games of the season.
In January, Willian could be found on the left side of a front three, having most often been on the right this season. He then had to make do with a place on the bench in four of our five February fixtures, but when named in the starting XI again, against Liverpool in the FA Cup, responded with a ferociously-struck opening goal.
In our last outing before lockdown, against Everton, Willian fired in our third goal and set up our fourth, taking him clear as the Chelsea player with the most assists (six) this season. He has also created the most chances (73) for us this season, and only Abraham has more than his seven goals. They are impressive figures, and ones he will be hoping to improve upon when play resumes.
Willian's 2019/20 Premier League stats
Their season so far: Mason Mount
Their season so far: Christian Pulisic
Their season so far: Kepa Arrizabalaga
Willian Premier League Appearances 2019/20
Willian had made 28 appearances in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season. Seven have been as a substitute.
Willian Champions League Appearances 2019/20
Willian has played each of our seven Champions League games this season, starting all six in the group stage.
Willian FA Cup Appearances 2019/20
Willian has played twice in the FA Cup this season, starting against Liverpool in our most recent cup game.
Willian League Cup Appearances 2019/20
Willian did not feature in the Carabao Cup this season.
Willian Premier League Goals 2019/20
Willian has scored five Premier League goals so far this season.
Willian Champions League Goals 2019/20
Willian has scored one Champions League goal this season, the winner away to Lille.
Willian FA Cup Goals 2019/20
Willian opened the scoring against Liverpool in the fifth round tie at Stamford Bridge.
Willian League Cup Goals 2019/20
Willian did not score in the League Cup this season.