Arteta defends Willian after struggling Arsenal star slammed by Piers Morgan

Mikel Arteta jumped to Willian's defence after Piers Morgan slammed the winger following Arsenal's FA Cup win over Newcastle.

But the Gunners boss also warned his player that it's time to start producing the goods after he struggled in the 2-0 victory.

Arteta reverted to a more experienced attack for Saturday's third-round clash, with Arsenal's young guns having earned three Premier League wins in a row.

But Willian and fellow winger Nicolas Pepe failed to hit their stride and missed decent chances, and were both eventually hooked.

Before goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed an extra-time win, celebrity Arsenal fan Morgan took to Twitter to ask: "What the hell's gone wrong with Willian?"

Despite replacing Willian with Bukayo Saka as he sought a way to win Saturday's game, Arteta insisted there were positives to be taken from the Brazilian's performance on his first start back after illness.

"Well, I think he was improving and improving," said the manager.

"The other he day he came on really well against West Brom.

"He's been out as well because he was ill, so he's missed almost two weeks of training and football and today it was the first time that he started the game."

Arteta admitted he had to "keep trying" to help Willian produce the form he has showed at previous club Chelsea in the past – but insisted it's time for the 32-year-old to step up.

"He had some good moments and he had some other moments where he needed more help sometimes and some decisions weren't the best.

"But we're going to keep trying with him. He's showing in training how much he wants it. He's got some highlights, and it's about keeping the confidence on him. We know the player that he is and it's about time to show it.

"I think when the team is winning it's easier, because it allows you a little bit more time to do that process. He needs to build those relationships with those players. Today he played in a slightly different position as well. We will get there."

Arsenal legend Ian Wright also joined in the criticism of Willian and Pepe, saying: "These are two players we needed a lot from, and we are just not getting it, to be honest."

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