Friday, June 2, 2023

There will be changes: Granit Xhaka with a different role on the field before the London derby with Tottenham

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Granit Xhaka has had a rollercoaster time at the Emirates Stadium after joining Arsenal from Borussia Mochengladbach in 2012.

Xhaka arrived from the Bundesliga outfit in a deal worth £7million and is now finally producing his best performances for the north London outfit. Mikel Arteta was key in convincing the Switzerland international to remain at the club after it looked like there was no future for Xhaka at Arsenal.

Back in November 2019 the Swiss midfielder was at the centre of a foul-mouthed on-pitch rant at his own fans before throwing his shirt to the ground and storming down the tunnel. Xhaka was Arsenal captain at the time and now finds himself playing a vital role in the midfield as the Gunners’ vice-captain having turned his career around in north London.

Xhaka is enjoying one of the finest veins of form he has shown during his time at the Emirates Stadium, having registered four goal contributions in just seven appearances so far this season. Arsenal legend Martin Keown has explained the ‘niche’ role the 30-year-old now finds himself operating in after Arteta made a key tactical adjustment at the start of the season.

Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport on behalf of BT Sport, the former England international explained: “What’s going so right for him [Xhaka] is the calibre of player he is now playing with. There has always been a desire, a need to be successful but they are all one year older.

“He has been there during a time of transition, a number of managers now that he has worked under. He’s found a niche for himself in midfield, he’s been able to express himself and show more of what he is capable of and at the age, he is at it fits perfectly in this team.”

Xhaka has just over a year remaining on his current deal with the Gunners but his current form could see him earn a new contract as he continues to play a key role for Arteta in the Arsenal midfield. Keown continued: “He’s still got to keep performing, to play at a high level to stay with this group and I think it’s bringing the best out of him, it’s a really good blend – finding himself in good positions, being further up the field, understanding when Zinchenko comes into midfield and getting wide-left, he’s got good intelligence and it’s causing problems for opponents.”

The 30-year-old has a tendency to make rash decisions at crucial points in matches, leading to him being sent off for needless fouls in the past and hampering his team’s chances of picking up results. This is something that must change this season if the Gunners are to challenge for the Premier League title, and Xhaka can prove to fans that he has matured with a solid, sensible performance against Tottenham in what is set up to be a fiery North London Derby.

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