Arsenal got back to winning ways in the Premier League on Wednesday night, and there were several brilliant individual performances that will have pleased the Arsenal fans. One summer signing was particularly impressive…
Xhaka signed for Arsenal for £30million in the summer and he has divided opinion ever since. The Swiss international has endured a difficult season, often played out of position and his discipline or lack of it, has really damaged his reputation.
In this game though, the Swiss international was majestic in defensive midfield. With Mohammed Elneny alongside him, the former FC Basel pair controlled the game against West Ham.
Although he plays deep in midfield, he is a very creative player with a great eye for a long pass and he’s neat and tidy in his short passing. With Santi Cazorla out, Arsenal needed a midfielder to step up responsibility and become the controller in midfield, conducting the game.
Xhaka was never hiding from the ball and often positioned himself in useful areas of the pitch to be the outlet for his defenders when they were under pressure. He was the base of all of Arsenal’s attacking movements and disciplined in his defensive actions.
Here’s some statistics from his performance: In perhaps his best game in an Arsenal shirt to date, Xhaka completed a massive 120 passes with an 89.2% success rate. He attempted 13 long balls and was accurate with 9 of them. Defensively he was solid, making 4 tackles and 1 interception. Offensively he was influential, making 3 key passes, despite playing in the deepest midfield position.
Here’s some tweets showing how fans reacted to Xhaka’s performance against the Hammers.
Xhaka sent Noble back to Upton Park pic.twitter.com/ui3VqLpXmh
— Ahmed (@Ahmed91Gooner) April 5, 2017
Thought Granit Xhaka was excellent tonight. Some terrific passing and positioning. Good to see.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 5, 2017
Xhaka and ElNeny have been good, very positive play form them and quick build up.
— Dezil Dez (@DezilDezz) April 5, 2017
In my opinion, Xhaka is a top quality midfielder that Arsenal must build their midfield around. The club can no longer depend on Cazorla, who is becoming injury prone and moving into the latter years of his career.
He’s has addressed his attitude problem recently and has become much calmer and more reliable on the ball. Arsenal need this kind of performance from Xhaka for the remainder of the season if they are to be successful in the FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League for a 23rd consecutive year.