Granit Xhaka has revealed that he is enjoying playing in a more advanced role as part of Mikel Arteta’s new-look Arsenal side.
THE LOWDOWN: GETTING BACK TO HIS BEST
Granit Xhaka has endured a topsy-turvy Arsenal career but has slowly started to win the Gunners’ faithful over again.
Arsenal’s recently released All or Nothing Series allowed fans see the Swiss in a different light, while the player admitted it helped bond with the supporters more.
On the pitch, Xhaka is starting to pay back that trust with consistent performances, having impressed against Leicester City in a 4-2 win at the weekend.
While Gabriel Jesus will take much of the praise after being involved in all four goals against the Foxes, Xhaka also played a key role and got his name on the scoresheet as Arsenal claimed their second win of the campaign.
The Swiss midfielder has now revealed that he has been deployed in an advanced role this season, a decision that has helped him improve his game.
THE LATEST: NEW ROLE, NEW XHAKA
During Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Leicester City at the weekend, Xhaka was usually the furthest man forward during attacks on several occasions, offering a different dimension for his side.
Speaking on his new-found role under Arteta, he said: “I’ve got more freedom to go up and down,” Xhaka explained. “I know I can do that. I have a lot of freedom from the coach, from my teammates.
“At the moment I’m happy with how everything is going. Let’s continue to work like this and hopefully at the end of the season we can be more than happy.
“It’s always good when you score and it’s always good when you can help the team – not only me, but all the players did a great job today. I’m more than happy to help, of course.”
Xhaka also took time to praise Gabriel Jesus, who stole the day with a praise-worthy debut brace at the Emirates.
“His performance was unbelievable,” Xhaka added. “Two goals and two assists – the work he does for the team is unbelievable.
“We’re more than happy. He’s scoring now as well and he’s helping us day by day. I’m more than happy for him because I think it’s very important to score at home.”
THE VERDICT: MORE OF THE SAME
Till date, Xhaka still gets a lot of criticism from some Arsenal fans but we can agree that he has started to find some stability of late.
Against Leicester, he was in the right place at the right time and his new-found freedom was clearly noticed in the manner of his runs as well as his positioning.
Obviously, Thomas Partey staying fit works hand in hand with Xhaka’s new role and we can only hope all our key personnel mostly stay injury-free. In a recent article, we did describe the Ghanaian midfielder as one of our most important players and it continues to get more evident with each passing day.
If it all works out, we could see more productivity and numbers from the Swiss midfielder. Coincidentally, Xhaka believes Arsenal are on a positive trajectory and he is set to play a big part in that.