Arsenal welcomed North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with three points the aim for the home side.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, they were unable to capitalise on Manchester City’s slip up yesterday and only managed to take a point from the match drawing 1-1 with Spurs. The match itself certainly felt like a loss to the Gunners faithful who will feel as if it is two points dropped in a quite dull derby.
Whenever there is a doom and gloom in football, you have to look at the positives to help yourself get over the result, and that positive today was Arsenal’s Switzerland international Granit Xhaka,who was absolutely immense in the Arsenal midfield pivot today.
Before the Arsenal line-up were announced, myself and many across social media were expecting Francis Coquelin to be partnered with Mohamed Elneny in the midfield pivot, especially after the comments made by Arsene Wenger on Xhaka’s disciplinary record, but to everyone’s surprise the former Gladbach man played the full 90 minutes and was instrumental for the Gunners and he looks certain to have bagged himself a starting spot for the away trip to Old Trafford.
We take a look behind the midfield rocks performance, which was a brilliant display personally for the Gunners man but not so much for his team and the result.
First of all, something Arsenal and Premier League fans have said about Xhaka is his bad timing of tackles and his decision making when deciding to bring a man down, well much to the joy of Arsene Wenger, Xhaka managed to win five tackles against Spurs today (more than any other player) which showcases the dominance he was proving to be in the middle of the park. Making 5 tackles is impressive, but the midfielder also managed 4 interceptions which can also play a vital role for his team defensively.
Xhaka is well known for his majestic passing through the lines and his passing ability in general, this was certainly on full show this afternoon as he managed 44 passes whilst completing an impressive 82% pass completion, with one of his passes counting as a key pass to Theo Walcott which was threaded through by Xhaka, but saw his thunderbolt effort bounce back off the post.
The 24-year-old broke up play exquisitely and prevented the away side from building dangerous attacks whilst protecting the back four efficiently throughout. His defensive duties were impressive but in the latter stages of the game his transition play was remarkable, he pushed the ball forward quickly from the midfield in bid to try an find a winner.
One more stat that was very impressive from Xhaka’s fine display was the amount of ball recoveries he made, in total he managed 10, which is absolutely sublime, this shows the engine he carried in today’s derby and what we can expect from him on a regular basis.
The performance was excellent, it was what every Arsenal fan was hoping for and was certainly delivered, we take a look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, with some fans very, very impressed.
Amazing performance from Xhaka. Maturity, discipline and quality when needed. Needs to consolidate his place now.
— #ThankYouArsene (@ClassofBergkamp) November 6, 2016
Pleased with Xhaka performance considering this was is 1st Nld,kept is cool
— Amechi (@Greenwitch44) November 6, 2016
People literally said Xhaka was incapable of defending well earlier this week. Hopefully today showed otherwise.
— Oscar (@Reunewal) November 6, 2016
Xhaka though! Thought he had an absolutely excellent performance. Should have probably gotten his head to that Iwobi cross
— Harshet Katyal (@OoohToBeAGunner) November 6, 2016
So proud of Granit Xhaka today, up there with his best performance since joining the club.
— Pádraig (@afcpadraig) November 6, 2016
Granit Xhaka's performance was the only positive thing for me today
— Paul (@Twin_Gooner) November 6, 2016
Xhaka was mint, not his best ball-playing performance but surprisingly good defensively. Protected the back four well after Coq went off.
— gjć (@1GAFC) November 6, 2016
Xhaka was unreal today, a good performance in a big game
— jack (@j_manna7) November 6, 2016
Xhaka was absolutely immense today, his best game in an Arsenal shirt.
— Chris (@Gooner_DB) November 6, 2016
It looks as if Xhaka has won the hearts of the Arsenal fans if he has not done so already and redeemed himself for the red card which saw him miss three important games for the Gunners. His performance was certainly the best in an Arsenal shirt and he finally showcased what he displayed consistently for Borussia Monchengladbach. He has probably won himself a start at Old Trafford alongside a start against PSG days later, its his turn to dominate the Arsenal midfield and will take some doing for his teammates to displace him.