Arsenal moved to the top of the league on Saturday night after beating Stoke, and there was one player that the fans were talking about a lot after the game…
Arsenal’s £30million summer signing Granit Xhaka was selected alongside Francis Coquelin in the heart of the Gunners midfield as they looked to combat the physical threat offered by Stoke City. The defensive base
Although Xhaka gave away a controversial penalty, the Swiss international put in a brilliant all-round performance to help Arsenal to what was in the end, a comfortable 3-1 home win against an on form Stoke City side.
Xhaka’s statistics on the day were incredibly impressive. He completed 100% of his take ons and highlighted his ability to dictate the game from deep, completing 77 passes with an 88% accuracy rate. He also showed his physical and defensive ability, winning 4 aerial duels, 3 tackles and making 2 clearances.
What was impressive about Xhaka’s performance on the day was that he did not only make short passes to keep things ticking along, but he also showed good ability to create chances from deep, switching up his passing play with longer passes that created 2 clear chances. He attempted a huge 10 long balls with 6 of them being accurate.
The ability to be such an all-round midfielder has made Xhaka the hub of the Arsenal team. He seems to be the man to dictate possession and lead by example. With Santi Cazorla out injured for a few months, it was extremely important for Arsenal to find someone that was capable of this – Xhaka being able to do so will ensure that the Spaniard is not missed as much as many may have thought originally.
Here’s some reaction on Twitter to the Swiss international’s performance.
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) December 10, 2016
Xhaka vs Stoke
77/88 passes – Highest
2 chances created
100% take on success
8 ball recoveries – Highest
3/3 tackles – Highest
— Jase The GÖÖNER (@JaseTheGooner) December 10, 2016
Won't get any headlines but Xhaka excellent again today. 10 starts for Arsenal, 9 wins, 1 draw. pic.twitter.com/xvCREc1Q4J
— Jas (@JasAFC) December 10, 2016
… and some reaction from Xhaka himself…
Personally, I am over the moon with the signing of Xhaka. He has settled very quickly and looks better with every game. I think he has curbed his aggression somewhat and filtered it into the right kind of aggression that’s needed on the pitch. Arsenal needed a midfielder that could both dictate the game through good on the ball ability and also physically dominate. In Coquelin Arsenal have a physical but not technical midfielder and Cazorla is technical not physical, but Xhaka beautifully combines both. He’s a man with a tonne of experience already, but it is easy to forget that he is only 24 and his leadership skills and overall ability will continue to grow in the next 5 years. Arsenal have made a top class signing.