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Willian vs. Stoke City: A fantastic player but more importantly, a fantastic man

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Willian set a career high last season with 11 goals scored, including 5 in the Premier League, on his way to winning Chelsea's Player of the Year honors as one of the very few in the squad who managed to display some semblance of consistency and effort while everything else was crumbling around him.

He picked up where he left off this year under the new head coach, but the tragic event of his mother's passing derailed everything. Willian's resolve is back in full effect however. He was making his fourth consecutive start on Saturday, and after a quiet first half, scored two game-changing goals, the latter of which proved the winner. His five league goals are now just as many as he scored all of last season.

Afterwards, Conte reflected on Willian's impact and called him out specifically for showing tremendous character in the face of tremendous persona loss.

"I’m pleased for him, it’s fantastic. We all know the period Wilian passed through but today he played a really good game with and without the ball. He scored two goals and I’m happy because he’s a really good guy, he deserves this. We tried to stay close to him but when this type of situation happens it’s not easy for any person. After a bad period which he’s overcome I’m pleased for him. He’s a fantastic player but more importantly for me he’s a fantastic man. He worked a lot in the game and he was very tired. I prefer to avoid him playing the last 10 minutes because when you are tired you risk injury."

-Antonio Conte; source; Chelsea FC

Going forward, Willian's battle for a starting spot over Pedro should resume — Pedro was suspended for Saturday's game — though their versatility should guarantee plenty of playing time both.