Why Granit Xhaka could revive his Arsenal career under Arteta
Earlier, Xhaka was on the verge of leaving Arsenal after lashing out at his side’s supporters during a 2-2 home draw against Crystal Palace in October. This led to him being stripped off the club’s captaincy and he was also left out of the squad by Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery.
With things looking seemingly distraught back then, Xhaka’s agent had said last week that the 27-year-old was targeting a move to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.
However, Arteta’s arrival seemed to have changed the Xhaka situation, with the Swiss international featuring in 2 of the 3 games managed by him.
In fact, the 27-year old defensive midfielder helped his side to a 2-0 victory with a gritty performance against bitter rivals Manchester United last Wednesday.
This was Arsenal’s first win in five matches in all competitions and also their first home win since October in the Premier League, thus signifying Xhaka’s worth within the side.
Xhaka was also in the thick of things in their 1-1 draw against Bournemouth, which was Arteta’s debut match as a manager.
It was arguably the midfielder’s best performance of the season, wherein he combined well with the young Lucas Torreira to provide Arsenal with a nice defensive shape in the middle.
Meanwhile, Arteta suffered a 2-1 home loss to Chelsea in between, where Xhaka did not feature due to illness. He had chosen the young Matteo Guendouzi in his role and it did not work well for the Gunners.
Xhaka’s ability to build up the play in the midfield was something that Gunners clearly lacked against a stronger Chelsea midfield, which included the likes of Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante.
Xhaka has been instrumental in both the games he has played under Arteta so far, with the club’s results being a proof of his importance.
Playing in his preferred deep-lying playmaker role, Xhaka’s excellent passing abilities where once again on the forefront under the new coach. His pass success percentage averaged more than 90% in the two games – 92.7% (Manchester United) and 93.8% (Bournemouth). (Source: Whoscored)
He has never recorded more than a 90% pass success rate in two successive games in this entire league campaign, which is a true reflection of his improvement under Arteta. He also gave as many as 11 effective long balls – his highest ever in the league this year – in the match against the Cherries.
Xhaka’s defensive abilities were also on display as he registered a total of 5 successful tackles and 4 crucial interceptions in the last 2 games, as per Whoscored.
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Above all, he recorded his highest ever overall ratings this season under Arteta, averaging 7.42 against the Red Devils and 7.17 against Bournemouth. (Source: Whoscored).
The last time his match rating touched such a mark was against Watford back in September, wherein he averaged 7.16 – marking a drastic and sudden comeback from the player.
Hence, its crystal clear that Xhaka’s performances have improved considerably under Arteta. Also, now that the Spaniard has made his opinion clear regarding Xhaka, this seems to be the best opportunity for him to revive his career at Arsenal.