Having missed our win over Leicester City while on compassionate leave, Willian was back on Sunday, but was picked to start only on the bench and Chelsea rolled with an unchanged lineup. He was introduced as a late substitute, helping to see out a commanding 4-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Speaking with ESPN Brasil afterwards, Willian thanked his teammates and the fans for the outpouring of support in this difficult personal moment for him.
"Yes, I had the opportunity to follow [the homages]. I'm quite happy for the homages everyone has made for me, from the players, the supporters and everyone else involved with the club."
"And now the road continues. It is a difficult moment [of my life] but we have to keep our heads up and know that God has a purpose for everything."
From his vantage point on the bench, Willian had a front row seat to Chelsea’s fantastic performance, one of the best in recent years.
"Undoubtedly, I think we had a great game. From the beginning of the match, with 33 seconds of play we opened the score. I think the team pressed well and we had good possession of the ball. Without the ball the team knew how to defend and we took the most of the opportunities [during the game]."
One of the biggest talking points from the game was Mourinho’s reaction to Conte’s gesturing to the home crowd. Mourinho claimed that he felt "humiliated" by the Chelsea manager, because of course everything is always about him.
To Willian, just like to most other observers, Conte’s actions were nothing out of the ordinary.
"I think it's a part of the game. [Antonio] Conte was in his own right [to rile up the crowd]. We were winning the match and the supporters were quiet at the moment, as we exchanged passes at the end of the match. He asked the crowd to cheer the team on, and these are normal things within football."
"Of course, [José] Mourinho was a great manager at Chelsea, and I had the opportunity to work with him. Nevertheless, it's football, right? We have to fulfill our duty, and that is to win the game."
-Willian; Source: ESPN Brasil
Willian’s place in the starting lineup has been taken by Pedro these last two games and it will be interesting to see if that continues next weekend against Southampton. In the meantime, we have a game against West Ham in the League Cup on Wednesday.