It is no secret that the change in system at the latter part of the season breathed new life into Arsenal’s Champions League push. Now although the team fell a bit short in that regard, it ensured that the team finished the season on a high note, with Arsenal having an FA Cup final to look forward to. The new system also brought the best out of a handful of players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil. But one player who has stood out in the new system is Granit Xhaka.
Since signing from Borrusia Monchengladbach last summer, the Swiss midfielder did not have the best start to his Arsenal career. Problems with discipline and consistency plagued the player when he started out at the Emirates, but there is no denying that Granit Xhaka has been top-notch since Arsene Wenger introduced the new system and has established a solid partnership with Aaron Ramsey in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield.
Under the new system, Granit is the pivot of the team. While he may not be an out-and-out defensive midfielder, the 23-year-old has the ability to sit deep and break down opposition attacks and keep the ball moving in midfield. In addition, the player is also capable of playing inch-perfect long balls and can also play defence-splitting passes. Needless to mention, he is not afraid of having a swing from distance either.
But the one aspect of his game that has impressed me the most is his leadership. Xhaka is a player who communicates with his teammates and does not hesitate to bark instructions or express frustration. Also, his passion is evident for all to see and although it affects his discipline at times, I believe he has improved on that regard and will learn with more experience. Personally, I believe that Xhaka has been a breath of fresh air in terms of what he brings to the Gunners midfield – creativity, tenacity, leadership and steel.
So with that being said, I think Granit has had a good first season at the Emirates. The fans have really taken him to heart and the player himself looks like he is enjoying his football. While it may be too early to make comparisons with great Arsenal midfielders of the past, the former Monchengladbach man certainly has the potential to rise to the same level. Here’s hoping that Granit Xhaka lives up to that potential amidst Arsenal’s quest to get back in the title picture.