Granit Xhaka has often been criticised by the Arsenal faithful for his short-tempered style of playing, which has come at a cost on a number of occasions in the past. Indeed, since his arrival in England back in 2016, no Gunners fan will need telling that the Swiss can often be a liability.
Now, it is fair to say the Arsenal midfielder looks a completely different player this campaign and has been crucial to club’s turnaround under new manager Unai Emery. In fact, his performances this season mean the manager might be seeing something in Xhaka, which his predecessor, Arsene Wenger, clearly didn’t.
It could also explain why Emery named the Swiss international as one of his five captains just before the season got underway last year and performance-wise, Xhaka has relished the opportunity of playing with a bit more responsibility on his shoulders.
The 26-year-old has looked mature on the pitch this season and has been highly influential for setting up the team’s attack.
The addition of Lucas Torreira as the more defensive midfielder has also helped Xhaka’s cause of being more fluent in attack, while his link-up play with the Arsenal defenders, in order to take the ball forward, has been brilliant. Thus, he has been key to Emery’s tactics of playing the ball out from the back and has often been pushed to think and act under heaps of pressure to get the attack going.
And, yesterday’s performance against Manchester United at the Emirates was another excellent example of the massive strides he has made to improve his all-round game.
As a matter of fact, he has been superb in all the big Premier League matches for Arsenal, against the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and now United, which the Gunners all won at home.
From an Arsenal perspective, it should be really encouraging to see someone of Xhaka’s calibre getting better and better as the season progresses and it should also be exciting to see the success he sets out the achieve at the club in the coming years.
With Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club in the summer, the importance of having Xhaka at the heart of the team will be highly needed and could mean even more and greater responsibility for him next season.
Arsenal fans, just how impressed have you been by Xhaka? Join the discussion by commenting below…