Everton

Everton: Ian Holloway labels Delph ‘signing of the season’

Everton: Ian Holloway labels Delph ‘signing of the season’

Ian Holloway has hailed Everton’s Fabian Delph as the ‘signing of the season’ amid a string of criticism directed toward Arsenal midfielder Grant Xhaka, while speaking on talkSPORT.

The former Blackpool manager, who led the Seasiders into the Premier League in 2010, was left extremely unimpressed by Xhaka’s efforts for the Gunners during Sunday’s North London Derby, when he made his third start of the Premier League season (WhoScored) alongside Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery even handed Xhaka the captain’s armband for Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to the Emirates Stadium, but saw the Swiss international conceded a naïve penalty in the first-half when he slid into Heung-min Son, which Harry Kane converted to double Spurs’ lead.

It was the kind of error that has plagued the 26-year-old’s time in N5, having joined under Arsene Wenger for a reported £35million (BBC) in 2016. Delph, on the other hand, offered Everton boss Marco Silva a composed central midfielder against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, having joined the Blues from Manchester City this summer in a deal worth up to £10million (BBC).

Holloway has now hailed the Toffees’ acquisition, and suggested the England midfielder is the type of player Arsenal should have looked to sign.

“Maybe [Xhaka’s] great in the dressing room, maybe he gets the lads going,” Holloway told talkSPORT. “But he just looks like an accident waiting to happen.

“Well, for me, I’m looking at what I think who is probably the signing of the season for Everton in Fabian Delph. If Arsenal had Fabian Delph playing the way he did yesterday for Everton, do you see what I’m saying?

“Because Delph read so many things yesterday and I don’t see Xhaka doing that. All Arsenal need is someone who can sit in front of that very beleaguered back four, maybe two of them, and let them go and attack, as long as you don’t get counter-attacked.”

Holloway’s praise of Delph’s performance against Wolves is well within reason, as the 29-year-old performed admirably in Everton’s engine room at the weekend up against an opponent they will be competing with throughout the season in the race to break into the top six.

He offered his manager a sharp passing range alongside Andre Gomes, and rarely looked uncomfortable in possession, epitomised by his 87% pass accuracy – more than any player who started, bar Seamus Coleman and Moise Kean, according to data collected by WhoScored.

Delph also won each of his four attempted tackles, recorded two interceptions and clearances, to show he can do the dirty side as well.

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