The role of the wide-man has changed significantly over the last few years, with fewer and fewer holding onto the old adage of getting “chalk on your boots” and pulling the ball back from the by-line, with more preferring to cut in-field and become involved that way. The following five choices include players with all manner of styles, but only one can find their way into The Boot Room’s Premier League Team of the Season, and they need you to vote for them in the poll at the end of the article. Follow the links at the end of the page to flick to the next player.
Willian is one of the very few Chelsea players who will be able to hold their head up high after a season of such terrific disappointment. The Brazilian did not capitulate while the vast majority of his team-mates did, and he produced many a match-winning; or at least match-saving, display which prolonged the Blues’ stay in the Champions League. This is in complete contrast to most of the rest of the squad, as the pacey wide-man has in fact exceeded expectations this year.
In many ways, Willian has stood out this year as a result of one thing – his exceptional proficiency from free-kicks. There was a point in late November where his efforts over the dead ball made him statistically the best in Europe at this particular skill, quite an accolade when you think of the other expert exponents out there. Indeed, notching four times directly from a free-kick in the Champions League group stages earned him a place within the best eleven of the competition until that point.
While the turn of the New Year saw this outstanding strike rate come to an end, the Brazilian speedster certainly continued to contribute and his work-rate was clear to see in comparison to the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard. Willian has 11 goals and six assists to his name in all competitions, so he is likely to be a wanted man come the opening of the transfer window in a couple of months. Should Chelsea have any desires to return to a place near the summit of the top flight, they would be loath to allow his departure.