Granit Xhaka brought up another personal milestone on Sunday – his appearance against Nottingham Forest was his 200th in Premier League history.
He’s only the 17th player to reach the landmark for Arsenal, and the sixth midfielder. “Two hundred games in the Premier League for this amazing football club makes me proud,” he said to Arsenal.com after the game.
“It makes me proud for myself, for my team-mates, for the staff I’ve had in the last seven years. It’s not usual to make 200 games for a club like this, I always say I want to give them something back. I feel at home as well so hopefully there’s more to come.
“Two hundred games, you can’t achieve that from today tomorrow. It needs a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline, a lot of people were included around me for the last seven years and in the end it’s hard work.”
It was the perfect way for Granit to celebrate, Arsenal victory over Forest was our biggest of the season and took us back to top spot in the Premier League.
“This is what we want to see, us players, the fans and the football club,” he added. “We deserve to be there in my opinion, now we have to keep going, keep believing in each other that we can do something special.”
Granit Xhaka has gone from zero to hero at Arsenal.
Once a lightning rod for supporter dissatisfaction and a liability in midfield, the 30-year-old has been transformed into a star performer for Mikel Arteta’s high-flying Gunners.
It represents a remarkable redemption for the Switzerland international, who appeared on the verge of leaving the Emirates Stadium before his recent renaissance.
Xhaka initially signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2016 — but his arrival coincided with a decline in fortunes for the Gunners.
The three-time Premier League winners have not finished in the top four since the Basel native joined, with Xhaka’s own form mirroring that of his club.
He veered from the sublime to the ridiculous across his first five campaigns, mixing exceptional performances with a number of disastrous displays.
Discipline was a particular problem for the former Borussia Monchengladbach man, who has accumulated five red cards during his time in N7.
The low point of Xhaka’s Arsenal career came against Crystal Palace in October 2019, when he clashed with fans at the Emirates — appearing to swear at the crowd after he was booed off the pitch.
The 106-cap international was stripped of the captaincy following that incident, with his standing among Gunners’ supporters in tatters.
He came close to leaving North London in the transfer windows that followed — but Arteta convinced Xhaka to remain.
It is looking like a wise decision, after the midfield maestro’s flying start to the season.