Since returning from his compassionate leave, Willian has only started one game for Chelsea, which was the 2-1 loss to West Ham in the EFL Cup, his other appearances have been short spells from the bench when the game has already been done and dusted — and the reason for this is Pedro.
I’ve been very critical of Pedro since last season; after a wonderful debut performance, the Spaniard became very average in his performances and his roles reduced gradually.
Since the start of this season, he has been behind Willian and Eden Hazard in the pecking order, and no one really expected him to break into the Chelsea first 11, but a compassionate leave for Willian was all he needed, and he has grabbed his opportunity with both hands and both feet.
Pedro has been in superb form since Antonio Conte’s switched to the 3-4-3 system, and he’s one of the reasons why we have been keeping cleansheets. Pedro has been working hard for the team, and his energy and work rate in the right flank has made that wing rock solid; opposition teams even prefer to try and attack from the left flank than the right. The winger has built a perfect understanding with Victor Moses in that right-wing, and together they have made the job of Cesar Azpilicueta easy.
Our player of the year Willian was outstanding last season, but he hasn’t really transferred that form to this season, and he’ll have to show a lot to regain his place back, because Conte is simply practicing a simple rule in football — never change a winning team.
While Willian did well against Hull City before going on leave, Pedro has taken his performances a bar higher, and his work rate and positioning are two things Conte appreciates in the winger. He hasn’t only supported the attack with goals and assists, but his work at tracking back has definitely impressed the Chelsea boss.
Furthermore, Conte has a playmaker in Eden Hazard who doesn’t track back too much, and he wouldn’t want to change the team balance for Willian who has an eye for attack more than for defending and tracking back.
Conte prioritises working hard as a unit, and Pedro has done that very well. Willian for now has to be on the bench, and it’s no fault of his — it’s all down to Pedro’s work and form.