Granit Xhaka Maintains His Standard
The best outfield player for Arsenal on the day. All the talk of Pepe turning a corner has brushed over the Swiss doing likewise. Never before has his head and his heart looked as invested into the side.
His shortcomings remain, such as not releasing the ball quick enough in the first half. Those will never change. You can’t suddenly reshape the physical make-up of a human being. He isn’t a mobile operator.
What’s made his weaknesses less damaging is the addition of a midfield partner who is resistant to the press. Listing that as the sole reason for his upturn in form would be grossly unjust, however.
There is an aggressive side to Xhaka that usually boils over into mindless foolishness. Now he channels that accordingly. Sure, he does love a late temper tantrum and yellow card. Most do.
No player made more progressive passes than him or final third entries, and whenever the energy levels drop slightly it is him pushing up to press highest on the pitch.
He’s garnered a mob of non-believers during his time at Arsenal, this writer included. Even those who’ve slated him endlessly must be able to see an alteration in his mentality and performances, though. Naysayers will stress that such patches have been common practice throughout his time in north London, which is true, but you can’t help but feel this period isn’t cut from the same cloth.
What Xhaka undoubtedly is, is the best partner for Partey by a country mile until new recruits are brought in.