Ian Wright urges Mikel Arteta to drop ‘negative’ Willian for North London derby

Ben Burrows
·2-min read
Arsenal midfielder Willian (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal midfielder Willian (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Ian Wright thinks Mikel Arteta should drop Willian with Arsenal looking for a spark ahead of the North London derby with Tottenham on Sunday.

The Gunners have made their worst start to a season for 39 years and head into the clash with their nearest neighbours 14th in the Premier League table.

Spurs, however, are flying high with Jose Mourinho's side top heading into the weekend.

Wright wants to see his former club go on the attack on Sunday, with summer signing Willian sacrificed after a series of below-par performances.

“I’d try to throw something else into the mix, Reiss Nelson or even [Bukayo] Saka on the right," he said on the Wrighty's House Podcast.

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“But Saka’s going to be on the left so I’d put Reiss Nelson on the right instead of Willian because we know what Willian’s going to do.

“For me he’s been a little bit negative with the way he’s been playing, a lot of backwards passing. You need somebody who can at least get back and progress the ball.

“If Saka can go and really put pressure on [Serge] Aurier, that’s where I think, if we’re going to get any kind of joy, then I think Saka’s got to go up there and put pressure on him, then [Granit] Xhaka can pull in on the left, just to put that body in there, then [Mohamed] Elneny should hold.”

Wright admits that Tottenham's form so far this season has him "afraid" ahead of one of the standout fixtures on the calendar.

“Going into the north London derby, I’m always nervous about it simply because for me it is one of the best games, I enjoyed everything about it.

“And when I went to Arsenal it was the game which meant the most to the fans and at the time to the players because we had a lot of players who came through that derby from the age of nine or 10.

“This is the first one I’m going to where I am afraid.

“I’m afraid simply because of where Tottenham are at the moment and we can’t ignore where they are at the moment, they’re in the ascendency.

“This is as afraid as I’ve been for a north London derby as I’ve been for a while and they’ve got Mourinho managing them. He wants to embarrass us.”

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