Just Keep Shooting, Willian

I suspect that if you’re near Willian and yell “CUADRADO!” he’ll kick the closest object to his foot toward whatever the nearest thing is that resembles a goal. In fact, someone should test this, just ensure nearby loved ones are prepared to duck well in advance. Mockery aside, his gusto to score truly was a refreshing sight.

This Chelsea team, especially without Costa, is one lavish with creativity but lacking in goals—or even goalscoring opportunity. And that’s as weird as buying an iPad and only using it as a calculator. Jose Mourinho is as brilliant a Genius Bar associate as there is but he still needs someone on the pitch to open a different app.

One theory on Willian’s renewed vigor toward goal is obviously that in Cuadrado he sees a foreboding similarity. Though the crux of that thought is mostly due to their whimsically similar hair, which makes it all too simple. Plus, that’d just be bad math. Something that, as Kevin McCauley of SB Nation points out, isn’t really how Chelsea do business anymore. In short, with the rise of Financial Fair Play, Chelsea have become adept at the business of football. That’s in part how they’ve managed to recover—and with relative ease—from The Torres Experiment. Willian was brought to Chelsea on a £32mil fee in August of 2013 and though he’s an incredible talent with blistering pace (and quite possibly an extra lung), his lack of goals is unlikely to yield Chelsea enough of a profit to consider moving him.

Plus, we kinda need him.

Therefore I believe it’s more likely tactics that gave him a mini-renaissance. Of the attacking options, Willian’s pace and quickness forces him to always draw the short straw
when it comes to which attacking player will chase back. Costa can’t and shouldn’t, Hazard is doing it more but still just as a body in the way, Oscar plays box-to-box but has neither the strength to nudge a player off nor the quickness to harass players into mistakes. “Sorry Willian. Ain’t our fault you were born with a third lung. Now hurry up
and use it before they score.”

willianstrikeC’est la vie.

And though Cuadrado is slight in stature, his already on-display awareness of opponent build-up play has offered him up as a viable option with whom to split defensive duties. As a result Willian was allowed to keep an eye on defenders more frequently. Giving him that vital additional second to plan a move and a shot rather than trying to summon the sorcery of Ronaldinho’s holy and divine feet with every touch.       

But whether it was a shift in tactical awareness, a lit fire, or just one of those days Ice Cube was talking about—I don’t care. I want, and Chelsea needs, Willian taking more shots at goal. As good as he is at low driven snap-shots it’s almost in the territory of the inexplicable that his last Premier League goal was September 27th. We still believed most things Brian Williams said back then.

Even with Diego Costa returning from his 3-match ban that forced Mourinho to weave magic to maintain a 7pt lead atop the Premier League table, Willian must remain aggressive. Hazard draws a crowd and as such his shots are often blocked. Costa’s runs force center backs to toil with worry all match. But adding an in-cutting Willian is the threat Chelsea need to continue picking up points as games run out. We’re approaching that desperate time when the result most teams will aim for against Chelsea is earning a point without negative movement in their goal differential.

Plus, Diego Costa’s game is always likely to result in him doing something that’ll cost him another game or three, Manchester City are getting Aguero firing again, and midfield stalwart Yaya Toure is returning to them on an African Cup Of Nations high.

It’d be ideal if Willian kept these shooting boots well-polished.


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