Granit Xhaka continues to impress for Arsenal this season and his latest showing against Brentford saw praises from manager Mikel Arteta.
THE LOWDOWN: NEW ROLE, NEW XHAKA
While the likes of Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba have earned most of the plaudits for Arsenal, Granit Xhaka has slowly gone about his business and has equally impressed as well this season.
The Swiss midfielder has thrived in a box-to-box role next to Thomas Partey, and has now been given much freedom to move to attacking positions.
That tactical has been evident in Xhaka’s numbers this term, where he has one goal and three assists from seven appearances in the Premier League this season.
His most recent assist against Brentford was a thing of beauty, having delivered a perfectly weighted cross that Gabriel Jesus finished off with a delightful header.
That assist now means Xhaka has already bettered his tally of two in the 2021/22 season and is well on course to equal and possibly beat his best individual record of seven assists, which he managed in the 2017/18 campaign.
THE LATEST: ARTETA PRAISES MIDFIELDER
Asides his performance against Brentford, a background talking point came in the fact that Xhaka was given the captain armband, as one of the club’s deputy captains in the absence of Martin Odegaard.
Fans had no problem with that and it is a major turnaround for the Swiss who came close to leaving the club after he was booed by his own fans in 2019.
Speaking after the 3-0 win over Brentford, Arteta had nothing but praise for Xhaka.
The Gunners boss said: “His consistency, and how he goes about every day. What he’s learnt in different moments of his career, whether here or with the national team. Also his willingness always to stay humble, to look forward and try to get better and when you do that, normally good things happen.”
Also commenting on Xhaka wearing the armband, he added: “Absolutely, and he was demanding it as well. I think he feels now that love and respect both ways. You see our supporters, the way they were singing to him as well, emotionally that makes him try to give even more. I’m really pleased for him because in my opinion he really deserves it.”
THE VERDICT: WELL DESERVED
Just recently, Kevin Campbell praised Xhaka for turning his fortunes around at the club and it was an accurate verdict on the midfielder, looking back at it.
Also one of the club’s senior players at 29, he is now looking comfortable on the pitch and looks to be playing his best football again. His leadership abilities will continue to come in handy and Arteta will be hoping for an injury-free campaign for the Swiss international.