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Ian Wright has slammed Arsenal technical director Edu over his recent defence of summer signing Willian and admits his comments left him upset and angry.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta signed Willian on a free transfer last summer after the Brazil international ended his seven-year spell with London rivals Chelsea.
The 32-year-old, who won two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge, has endured an underwhelming start to his Arsenal career and is yet to score for his new club in 15 appearances.
Arsenal chief Edu defended Willian in a wide-ranging interview with the club this week and said he needed to be given a ‘little bit of time’.
He said: ‘Listen, everybody knows Willian. If people say that he’s not a good footballer then maybe they don’t know football because he has always performed at the top, top level. Then he moved.
‘For me, Willian is a question of time to be performing how we know he can. ‘What do you expect? Do you expect it straight away? Boom! Willian can be the best one? But he needs a little bit of time.’
Former Arsenal and England striker Wright was left upset and angry at Edu’s comments, however, and says Willian needs to improve immediately. He said on the Wrighty’s House podcast: ‘Can I say something because there’s something I read with Edu, who I was with during the Rapid Vienna game. We had a chat and he’s very energetic.
‘But I was very disappointed with something I read with Edu talking about Willian needing time. I can’t have that – and I’d say it to him if I saw him – because we don’t want to be peddling that.
‘We’ve brought Willian in to hit the ground running and when he came in I read what you [Edu] said about a player that we need an immediate impact from.
‘We’ve signed him for three years which was very dubious for a lot of people. I went, “okay, Willian is good enough, a serial winner, and you look at the experience he brings”. ‘To hear, “we need to give him more time”… I needed something to squeeze because that’s not why he bought him.
‘Willian needs that chat where someone says, “my friend, listen, you’re here to hit the ground running”. ‘I’m not throwing him under the bus but I’m trying to explain that Edu cannot come out and say these things when Arsenal are in a position where we’ve signed the player for three years and he needs to hit the ground running.
‘It should be a dream move for him but maybe he hasn’t been energised. But he’s come into a dressing room that needs him to be the man.
‘Now Edu’s saying he needs time. No, you shouldn’t be saying that. Someone needs to get him in that office and speak to him and say, “you’re meant to be doing it now”.
Willian’s poor form has coincided with a miserable run for Arsenal, who are just 15th in the Premier League ahead of Wednesday’s clash against in-form Southampton. The Gunners have lost four successive home matches and more than half of their league fixtures so far this season, sparking speculation Arteta may soon lose his job.
Wright added: ‘I’m not saying this to pile on, I’m saying it because Edu has respect and we need more out of the players.
‘We need more because you coming out and saying that is going to make people think, “time?” You’ve given him three years so he’s not the person who should have time. ‘We need a lot more from him. I need a lot more from Edu and I don’t want him saying that kind of stuff. That upsets me.’