A contribution article from @chelseajadeft9

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Brazilian. As a biased Chelsea fan who likes to find the best in all our players, I found it increasingly difficult to join in with the criticisms aimed at the attacking midfielder – mainly because of his long service to the club but also for his tendency to turn up in difficult situations.

However, there are only so many excuses you can make for someone who is consistently underperforming – and the beginning of this season looked to be no different. 

Having returned from the Copa America with an injury, his first games in a blue shirt highlighted a lack of vision and creativity. It was soon apparent that the pressure to take on the role as Chelsea’s new number 10 was too much and he was once again, at the receiving end of Chelsea’s harshest critics.

Yet his performances over the past few weeks have pleasantly surprised supporters – giving him a chance to silence the haters whilst providing us with a glimpse of the old Willian we once knew and loved…

Where it all began

Signing for the Blues back in 2013 under Mourinho’s second spell at the club, the young star’s future looked bright at the Bridge. Willian was an exciting addition to the team and fans were intrigued by the potential impact the playmaker could create.

As the seasons went on, Willian’s credibility grew stronger and he became a vital asset to the team – winning both the Chelsea Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the year in the 15/16 season. 

Yet the past few years have seen his Chelsea reputation deteriorate – and the Brazilian has often made the headlines for his mistakes, rather than his accomplishes.  

His laziness, cockiness and of course, his lack of end producthave all contributed to Willian’s biggest faults – and the reason why so many Chelsea fans have found him increasingly frustrating to watch. He has also become selfish on the ball, taking shots when there are better options on the field as well as making the run without securing the crucial finish.

Soon, it seemed the fans had completely given up hope (and rightly so), yet his recent performances under Frank have got everyone questioning their beliefs…

Back to brilliance

Since making his first full appearance against Wolves this season, Willian has continued to feature in Lampard’s starting XI. Despite being unable to find the net in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat against Valencia, his effort and determination on the pitch was promising – and he wasn’t far from securing Chelsea’s first goal in their Champions League campaign this season. 

Fast forward a few matches and the Brazilian’s form seems to be back on track – scoring his first league goal since January in a comfortable 2-0 win against Brighton. 

The following week, he netted his second goal in two games in an important win against Lille, claiming Man of the Matchbefore providing an assist against Southampton on Sunday – playing an important part in all of Chelsea’s past three victories.

During these matches, his tireless work rate has been admirable and the type of energy he brings to the game, despite being one of the oldest in the squad, has been crucial to Chelsea’s recent success. His burst of pace down the wing and his ability to create chances has made him a standout player for Chelsea in recent weeks – something we’ve not witnessed in quite some time. 

And although Lampard has grown a liking for the younger players, he’s seemed to have found a spot in the first team for the 31-year-old, finding the perfect balance of youth and experience.

What does the future hold?

With his position up for grabs, in the form of young stars Mason Mount and Callum Hudson – Odoi, Willian will have to keep up this impressive form if he has any chance of continuing his start under Frank. And despite Pulisic failing to become a regular at Chelsea, he could be another potential competitor if Willian loses his spark once again…

But is the Brazilian likely to slip up? Well, the pressures that come with both claiming your place in the first team and proving people wrong could eventually take its toll. It’s no secret that Willian needs to work on his finishes and continue to give 100% each game. But if his commitment and perseverance to the club continues, there’s no reason why Willian can’t be great again.

We can only hope he’ll continue his excellent form – for the sack of the club, himself and of course, the fans.