Arsenal fans have been calling for Arsene Wenger to buy a beast of a defensive midfielder for many, many years, and it looked like we had found one by chance when Wenger recalled Francis Coquelin was recalled from a loan period at Charlton in 2014. The Frenchman quickly made his mark and looked like a quality addition to the team, but after a 3-month lay off last season he hasn’t looked like a certain starter any more and Wenger started experimenting with other players in the DM role.
The arrivals of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka provided extra competition, and even Aaron Ramsey was given a run in the centre. Elneny has run hot and cold and is maybe more attacking than Xhaka, but after an undisciplined start to his Arsenal career, Xhaka seems to have grown into the role and has been even more influential since the Gunners changed formation.
The player himself feels that he has now settled into his new club and country, and described himself like this. “I play in an aggressive style and I think I am suited to football in England,” Xhaka said. “I think every player needs time to adjust to a new league, a new country and new team-mates.
“At the back end of last season I already felt good and I am feeling more comfortable now and want to help the team as much as I can this season as well.
“I am not a player who likes to talk about himself but I think I have shown since I have been here that I am someone who likes having the ball, dictating the play, looking for my team-mates.
“I’m what we call a ‘six’ in Germany, a quite aggressive, deep-lying playmaker.”
He is definitely aggressive, which is what Arsenal fans always wanted in a DM, but he seems to get fewer cautions than before and he has now tempered his game with more composure, and his long searching passes have improved beyond compare. Do you think the Swiss international should now be one of the first names on the team sheet?