Martin Keown disagrees with common criticism of Chelsea FC star
The Arsenal legend believes Willian always produces solid performances for Chelsea FC
Martin Keown has defended Willian after the Chelsea FC winger’s impressive Champions League performance against Barcelona.
The Brazil international was included in Antonio Conte’s starting line-up despite being in and out of the first-team this season.
Willian justified his inclusion with the opener after half-time after the attacker hit the woodwork twice in the opening 45 minutes.
Lionel Messi cancelled out Willian’s goal to secure a 1-1 draw for Barcelona in the first leg of the last-16 clash.
However, Willian, rather than Messi, Eden Hazard or Luis Suarez, was named man of the match following his outstanding display.
The South American has found his first-team chances limited under Conte over the past 18 months despite contributing to last season’s title success.
Indeed, he has started 13 times in the Premier League this term, while the former Shakhtar Donetsk man has made a further 13 appearances from the bench.
Former Arsenal legend Keown believes Willian’s issue isn’t inconsistency but rather a lack of faith from his Chelsea FC coaches.
“Willian seems the sort of player who will cope in any situation, no matter how much criticism he may be getting,” Willian told the Daily Mail.
“It is no surprise that he was Chelsea’s player of the season in 2015-16 when they finished 10th.
“No matter what was going on off the pitch, he kept popping up with really good performances.
“One criticism of Willian is that he is not consistent enough but I do not think that is the case.
“His problem is that managers do not seem to be picking him consistently enough.
“On an evening when everyone was looking at Eden Hazard as the next galactico, Willian shone brightest.”
Willian has started 15 times in the Champions League and the Premier League with a yield of nine goals and six assists.
Chelsea FC lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final to miss out on a place in the Wembley showpiece last month.