Granit Xhaka: A Profile

Written by Josh Andrews

April 14, 2020

Granit Xhaka: A Profile

Granit Xhaka. The former captain was debatably the most prominent scapegoat for the fans at Arsenal during the Unai Emery era. Error-prone, poor discipline and the chain of incidents leading up to his loss of the captaincy, it looked like Xhaka would be taking the next available flight out of London, with Hertha Berlin heavily linked.

However since Mikel Arteta became the head coach at Arsenal, Xhaka has been a mainstay in the Arsenal midfield. He’s played more minutes than any other Arsenal midfielder during that time and the head coach has stated that he sees Xhaka as a part of Arsenal’s long-term future.

“I think he is going to stay. He was very good [against United], and I really like him. With the way we want to play, if we get him on board I think he can be a tremendous player for the football club.”

Arteta – Jan 1. 2020

It is easy to point the finger at Xhaka and say he isn’t good enough for the Arsenal team. He had made a number of mistakes in crucial moments, so why does Arteta see him as a part of the Arsenal future?

He doesn’t fit the mould of a typical playmaker – he’s only managed to get 3 Premier League assists since Arsene Wenger left the club in 2018, and averages approximately 1 key pass per game. He isn’t a goalscoring midfielder – despite his powerful left foot. His highest number of goals in any Premier League season is 4. 

He also isn’t a ball-winning midfielder, averaging just under 2 tackles per game and under 1 interception per game. To put that into context, when Arsenal recalled Francis Coquelin back from Charlton in 2014 he averaged 3.2 tackles per game and 3.7 interceptions for the rest of that season.

Considering all this, what does Xhaka bring to the Arsenal team that our other midfielders don’t? 

Firstly, he’s very versatile. Xhaka has played as a midfielder, centre-back and left-back during his time at Arsenal. Arteta has used him mostly as a left-sided deep midfielder but with Bukayo Saka filling in as a left back, Xhaka has provided excellent cover whenever Saka pushes forward to act as an auxiliary winger. Once Kieran Tierney returns, it will be interesting to see how he and Xhaka work together on that side of the pitch.

Also, despite his lack of assists, Xhaka’s passing range is exceptional. He averages over 5 long passes per game, and these passes are usually effective switches of play rather than aimless long balls. He’s also good at playing the line-breaking passes that often start the attacking moves. 

There is also an argument that could be made that he is still Arsenal’s best midfielder. Lucas Torreira has shown glimpses of quality and grit but he hasn’t yet shown the tenacity that he had during his time at Sampdoria, Dani Ceballos looks set to return to Spain, and despite Mesut Özil’s resurgence in the side his contract runs out in 2021 and looks past his best.

What do you think about Xhaka’s future? Should he be part of Arteta’s long-term plans?

Xhaka: Stay or Go?

Header Photo: cfcunofficial (2018)

 

 

Related Articles

Arsenal vs Leicester: Did the referee get it right?

Arsenal vs Leicester: Did the referee get it right?

Last night, Arsenal hosted Leicester at the Emirates in a game that ended 1-1. A beautiful pass from Dani Ceballos put Bukayo Saka in prime position to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the opening goal. Jamie Vardy equalised late on to make it 1-1, but the real...

Is David Luiz really that bad?

Is David Luiz really that bad?

The first game after "Project Restart" played host to a pretty torrid performance from David Luiz. It's become a far too familiar thing for Arsenal fans - playing fairly well, one defensive calamity and then trying to play catch up after conceding the first goal. It's...

What is Bukayo Saka’s best position?

What is Bukayo Saka’s best position?

After months of speculation regarding his future, Bukayo Saka has put pen to paper and signed a new contract that will reportedly keep him at Arsenal until 2024. https://twitter.com/BukayoSaka87/status/1278298080362840066 The promising talents of Saka have been on...

Comments

0 Comments

Stay Up to Date With The Latest News & Updates

Disclaimer

ATSN is not an official partner of Arsenal, Premier League, or any other related organization.

Sign up for our newsletter

Receive a weekly newsletter with the most recent developments and important updates

Follow Us

Get our most recent updates and articles by following us on social media.