It is now officially impossible to deny the importance of Granit Xhaka for Arsenal
Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that in recent times Granit Xhaka has played his best football of his career in an Arsenal shirt.
Since arriving from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2016, in a deal worth over £ 40million, the Switzerland international has often divided opinions among Gunners loyalists.
His career in the famous red and white appeared to be over in October 2019 when, after weeks of online abuse and boos from his own supporters, when he was substituted, the 28-year-old broke down. and waved angrily at the Emirates Stadium crowd as they walked away. ground.
Stripped of the harbor master’s office, Xhaka became the number one public enemy among fan groups and appeared to be heading towards Hertha Berlin. After Unai Emery’s sacking, Mikel Arteta arrived and managed to convince the midfielder to stay put and since then the player’s level of performance has improved significantly.
The rejuvenated Xhaka has benefited from playing in a more balanced squad that allows him to leverage his strengths and arguably prevents his biggest flaw, a lack of athleticism, from being exposed.
Although they are currently in 10th position, only their rivals in north London boast a better defensive record in the division – further supporting the point that Arsenal have tightened in this area. However, Xhaka is not only a beneficiary of the team’s defensive improvement, he has also contributed significantly to it.
The player’s tactical awareness and ability to slip into the defensive line when his forward side bombs have been invaluable in defending against transitions. How comfortable he is receiving the ball in front of his own goal has been key as Arteta continues to insist his team play from behind and it has become perfectly clear that he is one. rare natural leaders of the current team.
His Premier League success rate this season is an impressive 90% and with the recent addition of a forward midfielder in front of him he has been able to lift his head and move the ball forward much more often.
Flashes of petulance that once plagued him can still be found from time to time, his expulsion from Burnley in December being the latest example. However, in Thomas Partey (when he’s in good shape) Arteta has found the Swiss his ideal partner.
The pair bring both physical presence and positional discipline to Arsenal’s midfield, which has been key to their recent return to form. To further prove his importance, the Gunners have only won one of four Premier League games he has not been in.
Granit Xhaka is a player not without faults, but whatever your opinion of him before, he has clearly earned the trust of his manager and has certainly repaid the trust shown in him by giving him a solid performance.
When he’s in good shape he’s one of the first names on the squad sheet, whether you love him or hate him it’s impossible to deny his importance to this current Arsenal squad and the progress recently made by the team.