Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has urged Mikel Arteta to drop Willian when the Gunners face Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Willian, who joined over the summer on a free transfer from Chelsea, has come in for criticism and Merson claimed that the forward has been “shocking” and “a shadow of his former self”.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson said: “He’s been shocking. I’m a big fan of Willian and at Chelsea he was unbelievable. At times, he was unplayable but he is a shadow of his former self and I don’t know what it is.
“He’s the only one you can ask and again it must come down to confidence. I’m not sure he will play. He’s had enough chances to play, more than the other younger players.
“Arsenal’s big-name players haven’t been performing over the past six weeks or so and this is the problem Arteta has been having.
“[Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang scored the other day, but he’s not really looked like scoring. His body language hasn’t been great, Nicolas Pepe is not even starting all the time and Willian just looks like he’s being carried.”
Merson also claimed that Kieran Tierney should replace Aubameyang as Arsenal’s captain, praising the Scotland international for the partnership he is developing with Bukayo Saka on the left.
“I would give it to Tierney as he’d run through a brick wall for you,” he added. “He’s the one player I look at who gives everything, and I’d give him the captaincy.
“There’s a way of showing how much you care, and the relationship he is building with Bukayo Saka down the left looks decent. Arsenal need that all around the pitch, and at the moment they’re in a relegation battle.
“For me, I don’t see them doing what Burnley are capable of, rolling their sleeves up. Arsenal are searching for the perfect win but they need to start grinding out results.”