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06th Nov 2015

“We have everything we need to turn this situation around” – JOE talks to Chelsea’s Willian

Matt Stanger

It has been difficult for Jose Mourinho to find words of praise for Chelsea this season, so it is therefore telling of Willian’s contribution that he was singled out following the Blues’ recent win over Dynamo Kiev.

Scoring his fifth goal of the campaign – all from free-kicks – the Brazilian bamboozled veteran goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy to seal a confidence-boosting 2-1 victory with just seven minutes left on the clock.

It was another fraught evening for Mourinho, who watched his team surrender their early advantage, courtesy of an Aleksandar Dragovic own goal, to the same player before Willian’s timely intervention.

But after that strike moved Chelsea into second place in their Champions League group, and gave Mourinho his “moment”, the manager was quick to acknowledge Willian’s current claim to being the Blues’ most important player.

“If somebody deserves the winning goal, I think Willian is perfect. His performance was complete,” said Mourinho.

“He’s playing very well, not just today. He has been playing well for a long time.”

Chelsea FC v FC Dynamo Kyiv - UEFA Champions League

With Eden Hazard in and out of the team, Cesc Fabregas still searching for his form of 2014, and the goals drying up for Diego Costa, few Chelsea players have matched Willian’s consistency since the glow of May’s title success has paled.

Where others have sought to avoid the scrutiny that naturally follows a championship defence to rival David Moyes’s Manchester United in 2013, Willian has strode into the spotlight.

But the club’s silver lining is keen to share the credit coming his way.

Speaking to, he said: “We’re a very close group here, we all get along very well. Sometimes in football things don’t go the way you expect, but we definitely have what it takes to turn the season around.

“We’ve been playing some good football, but sometimes we have been unlucky.”

Chelsea v Liverpool - Premier League

That sense of misfortune has pervaded the struggles which see Chelsea languishing in 16th place after 12 matches, having already overtaken the highest number of league defeats Mourinho has ever suffered in a single season.

But Willian is not looking for sympathy, and appears endearingly unperturbed by the worries that have beset his team-mates.

“We have quality in the squad and everything needed to turn the situation around,” he says with the confidence of a player who has turned down the background noise to concentrate on his own performances.

“We need to start winning. We know it’s going to be difficult but with a win we can build up some confidence. And once we get a few wins in a row we’ll be back on track and still have time to be up there.”


Listening to Willian, it’s almost easy to wonder what all the fuss is about – the speculation surrounding Mourinho’s tenure included. But as the Blues’ most-improved player, he recognises the team’s need to follow suit, starting by creating more chances for Costa.

“The team has to improve in order to get more goals,” says Willian as we caught up with him at the launch of Electronic Arts Need for Speed. “We’ve not been able to deliver as many good scoring opportunities for Costa like last season.

“But I think the way we’re playing now, we’re getting better every week. I think sooner or later the goals will come.”

Chelsea v Aston Villa - Premier League

That same eventuality has certainly been the case for Willian on an individual level. The Brazilian has already scored more goals than in any of his previous two seasons since signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, and Mourinho has identified his progress.

“He keeps improving in every area of the game. It was an evolution over three years – absolutely phenomenal,” said the manager.

“What he didn’t have was goals. This season, most of them have been set-pieces, but even at that level he’s scoring a few goals.”

Is it something Willian has worked on? “Yes. I have been practising quite often. Every day after training I stay to do shooting practise. I take five or six kicks; it’s definitely been helping me to develop that aspect of my game.”


The hard work on the training pitch has paid off, with Willian’s late winning goal against Dynamo Kiev seeing him overtake ‘own goals’ as Chelsea’s leading scorer this season.

Like many foreign players coming to England, it has not always been easy – “it’s very physical, they mark a lot, it’s very fast-paced, and the ball is in the air a lot” – but Willian is now finding the cutting edge to match his application.

Now 27, the playmaker is entering the peak years of his career, with Chelsea set to benefit.

There hasn’t been much to cheer about at Stamford Bridge since August, but in the unflappable Willian the positives are prominent. And with his relentless energy on the pitch and new-found finishing touch, he may just drive Chelsea out of their malaise.

Chelsea’s Willian brings the Five Ways to Play to life as he takes control of a BMW M3 using a PlayStation 4 controller for the launch of Need for Speed.

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