Willian’s performance against Aston Villa has certainly made an interesting selection choice for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
The West-London side went 7 points clear at the top of the Premier League, following a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Despite goals from Branislav Ivanovic and Eden Hazard, it was Willian who is getting most of the plaudits after the game.
Following the signing of £26million man Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina (fee via BBC), it has been widely expected that the Colombian would take the place of Willian on the right-side of midfield.
However, in the match against Villa, Willian was clearly playing like a man trying to impress and he succeeded in doing so.
Willian, 26, provided an excellent assist to Hazard in the 8th minute, as well as being a real menace with his energy and work-rate. His passing, what’s more, was generally purposeful and amounted to a completion rate of 84%.
With Cesc Fabregas having missed the game through injury, Chelsea were needing a player to control the game and provide the creativity to break down Aston Villa. Willian arguably provided his greatest game in a Chelsea shirt so far, and finally justified the £30million price tag.
The Brazilian has developed enormously under Mourinho. His work-rate and incisiveness have made him very popular amongst Chelsea fans. Willian is clearly a Mourinho-type player.
Despite his fantastic intensity, Willian’s statistics in the final third are shockingly timid. With only one goal and two assists this season, the winger finds himself overshadowed alongside his other attacking team mates.
Cuadrado on the other hand has had a more dynamic and more successful season in Italy. The Colombian winger has provided 4 assists and created 36 chances.
Cuadrado also registered more assists than any other player at the World Cup last summer (4), and the Colombia international is far more effective than Willian in terms of goals and assists. He scored 11 times in Serie A last season, and he has four so far in the current campaign. His chance conversion rate is a fairly poor 10.5%, though Willian’s is shocking at 3.3%.
Cuadrado is similar to Willian in the fact they can both play in wide range of positions. The new signing has mainly been playing behind the striker in Serie A this season, but during the World Cup, he mainly enjoyed playing as a winger.
The Colombian has a similar work rate to Willian, but is more a traditional winger. Cuadrado has more pace and trickery to his game.
One deciding factor between the two players could be Chelsea often come up against teams that sit deep and defend in a low block, especially at home, and Cuadrado can help to unlock the opposition.
Or if Mourinho wants to play more defensive and play on the counter-attack, Cuadrado has the discipline to play deeper and then play quickly on the break to worry most sides. This tactic could prove telling if Chelsea are to challenge in the Champions League this season.
Mourinho wants all his players to defend from the front. Willian has made 22 tackles this season, Cuadrado has only made 12 tackles in comparison.
It will certainly take time for Cuadrado to adapt to the pace and physicality of the league, but he certainly adds a more attacking element to Chelsea if he were to play. Although Willian provides a great work-rate, his efforts with the ball are not as dynamic as the Colombian.
Jose Mourinho would hope that competition between them both will bring the best out of one and other. If Willian is to continue like did against Villa on Saturday, then Cuadrado will need to work hard to displace him.