West Ham showed wonderful fighting spirit to battle their way to a 0-0 draw with Maurizio Sarri’s unbeaten Chelsea side at the London Stadium on Sunday. The Hammers will be delighted with the result, whilst the Blues will have returned to Stamford Bridge rueing the number of goalscoring opportunities they squandered.
Despite being a disappointing outcome, there was one big positive for Sarri to take from this match – the performance of Willian.
The Brazil international was a constant menace to the home side’s defence and seemed the most likely source of a breakthrough for the visitors.
The greatest evidence of Willian’s heavy involvement in the match is the fact he managed 104 touches of the ball. On the entire pitch, only Jorginho got on the ball more.
Not only was Willian in possession often, but he used the ball very effectively too. The 30-year-old completed 73 passes, and achieved a pass accuracy rating of 79.5%.
He was not overly conservative with his distribution though, instead he set about trying to unpick the West Ham defence in order to forge goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. Willian registered a remarkable six key passes against West Ham – twice as many as anyone else on the pitch managed.
When Willian wasn’t looking for his teammates, he was trying to apply the killer touch himself. No one managed more than the three shots he mustered, however, none of them hit the target, which is not good enough from a player of Willian’s quality in such a tightly contested game.
Despite the end product being absent, Willian’s ability to find himself in dangerous positions so consistently was impressive and kept the Hammers back line working hard to preserve their clean sheet.
West Ham weren’t the only ones working hard defensively though. Willian contributed toward’s his own side’s clean sheet by making three tackles and two interceptions – in both instances he led all Chelsea players.
However, for all of the impressive aspects of Willian’s game against West Ham, he ultimately proved unable to bridge the gap between a single point and all three. Given how Eden Hazard struggled to impose himself upon the match, Sarri needed another member of his team to step up and prove the difference.
Try as he might, Willian couldn’t quite do enough to turn the tie in favour of his side.