How Willian can shape up the top-4 battle in the EPL

Blog by: Anubhav
FC Shakhtar Donetsk Training Session & Press Conference

A little over ten days before, news broke of Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala having put their entire squad up for sale. The news rose a few eyebrows with the Russian giants, backed by a multi-billionaire not long ago, snapped the likes of Willian, Eto’o and more recently Christopher Samba from QPR in a bid to strengthen their squad.

Many fans seemed bemused, assuming it to be a lame April fool prank coming too late, but it was not to be. The following hours witnessed a series of announcements, each more puzzling than the other, but put a stamp on the news of Anzhi going down the barrel.

Debates sparked off from all corners as to why the big spending Russians and heavy-weight title challengers are cutting-back on the team, but that’s a long, different story in its own, not worth the topic.

Coming straight back to the point- The decision by owner Kerimov to cut down on the budget drastically from a massive 116 million pounds to somewhere in the region of 24-32 million pounds has not only prompted wide-open eyes, but also open gates for other clubs to land their prodigies.  The move has also made the scalp of the prized assets in the Russian outfit from a mere passing thought to now a reality for clubs around.

As things stand, Liverpool and Tottenham are engrossed in a battle for Brazilian wonder Willian. Liverpool, having identified weakness in their wide areas, have zeroed-in on the 25-year-old midfielder to solve their woes. Liverpool for long have struggled to find an apt wide-man who has goals in him to go with the kind of impact the Reds are looking for on the flanks. Though, Downing had an above-par second half of the season last-term, putting it blatantly, he wasn’t ideally Liverpool class and not what the Anfield faithful had set sights on for long.

Despite the fact that Willian would come in expensive and has hefty wages to be looked after, Reds are in no way taking a back-seat with a prospective move for the former Shakhtar Donetsk star, given there are not many players like him around. Willian is one with pace, trickery and has goals in him. Adapt at playing wide, Willian comes in as an ideal signing for the top-4 challenge mounting Liverpool side. Also, with Suarez set to miss five more games having bitten Chelsea defender Ivanovic at the end of last season, Willian will be a key figure at Liverpool to provide the much needed early impetus and momentum going into the season.

On the flip side, Tottenham boasts of a few good names in wide-areas namely Bale, Lennon, Chadli and with Sigurdsson drafting in well in that position last term, the Londoners wing looks much better. But with Bale’s future uncertain, and as it is cliché with Tottenham after every Liverpool target, starting from Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Soldado, to now moving in late for the Brazilian medio Willian to hijack Liverpool’s bid.

With Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United almost certain to make it into the top-four , cometh the end of season and Arsenal stubborn on not spending despite high-flying promises in the summer, followed with lackluster bids very well knowing the clubs are aware of the fact that they haven’t spent a quartet of the 70 mn pounds war chest have more or less put the fight for the fourth spot between Liverpool and Tottenham.


Interestingly, Liverpool and Tottenham have had a similar summer with both teams facing the fear of exit of their star players last season in Luis Suarez and Bale. Then both went in the market signing a striker each, a young winger, drafted defensive reinforcements and let away the excess players. As it stands, both are pretty much in for Willian, who is set to tilt with him, the top-four battle on either side.

Willian started his career at a tender age of 19 when he joined local side Corinthians where the midfielder scored two goals in his 41 appearances before sealing a move to Shakhtar for a fee of €14 million on a five-year contract. It didn’t take long for the Brazilian to become a household name in Donetsk and soon crept up as a key player for Shakhtar where he netted 20 times in his 140 appearances to go with his high kitty of assists. The Brazilian became a prominent name following his spectacular brace against European Champions Chelsea and led to his rising stakes in the European market, which saw cash-rich Anzhi side pounce on the opportunity to land the highly-rated midfielder in Russia to now on the transfer list.

Liverpool have had a new philosophy in place with the arrival of Brendan Rodgers. He submitted a descriptive 100 page booklet on how he intends to take the club forward and he certainly has in his brief spell, playing a brand of football which is nice to the eye and result oriented.

Rodgers likes to keep most of the ball which has seen Liverpool not attacking much through the centre just half-way up. The players like to move it to the side and then trying to pick a body in the box or cut inside and put in the ball. With Willian boasting of pace and getting goals from wide areas, he seems to be a perfect fit and has makings of an instant hit with support from Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho.

On the other hand, Tottenham have a similar style of play with two wide-men and their central midfield distributing it wide to string a passes and looking for that opening. Given Soldado’s aerial ability isn’t too good, even Tottenham are looking for someone wide who cannot only put in crosses, but cut inside and score all on his own, an area Lennon has failed to live upto. And with Bale’s future unsure, Willian seems to be the man to save Tottenham, who look a little shallow on depth and get them that much awaited top-4 spot.

Given Willian’s game and his position fits-in the scheme of things in either city, matching the playing style of the two and a perfect fit to fill in the void suitability to either team. Given the exciting midfielder seems to be the missing jigsaw in the puzzle of either side, the Brazilian is sure to give direction to the top-four spot with the wind all to him.

Arsenal too would be in the fray, but afraid, if the North Londoners continue with their stubborn attitude and put in silly bids like the have been putting in for all the players they missed so far and now Cabaye, not learning from their earlier mistakes, it certainly seems a two-way battle between Liverpool and Tottenham with Willian having the advantage to the top-4 spot.

Latest reports earlier claimed of Liverpool in the driver’s seat for the midfielder’s acquisition to now Tottenham enjoying better odds. But rumours have it-the Brazilian is keen on a move to Merseyside and has been vocal of his desire to country-mate Lucas.

Believe it or not, it makes for an exciting week with one man having so much to carry in course of the Premier League.


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