Granit Xhaka was a surprise inclusion in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI yesterday and many Arsenal fans questioned why the Boss would change a team that had won three gamres in a row, but he fully justified his place as he completely dominated the midfield.
In particular he made the Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg look like an untrained amateur, taking him out at will and sending perfect passes to send our forwards off towards LLoris’ goal.
It was his perfect long ball that ended with Smith-Rowe setting up Aubameyang after just 7 minutes which very nearly gave us the lead, but our captain was just offside anyway and it wouldn’t have counted. But just a few minutes later Xhaka slipped the ball through to Martin Odegaard, and Smith-Rowe was fed by Saka to finish the move to give us the lead.
Just before the half-hour mark it was Xhaka that rescued Ramsdale from a dodgy pass at the back and then found Smith-Rowe yet again, which very quickly ended up with Aubameyang doubling our lead.
Less than ten minutes later, the game was as good as over when Saka got his well-deserved goal to make it three to the Gunners.
The whole team seemed exhausted in the last 20 minutes of the game, but Arteta didn’t make any changes until Xhaka was cruelly injured in a collision with Lucas Moura, which could have seriously damaged his knee. Mikel Arteta explained the Xhaka situation after the game: “Obviously we had to think about it, we had different options to play against them.” the boss told Arsenal.com. “We believed that the way they set up and what we wanted to do in the game, it was the right call to do that. I understand that a lot of people will say, ‘You won the last two games, why change it?’ but we did it with the intention that it was the right thing to do to start the game and then change it, and unfortunately he got injured. I’m pretty worried because it doesn’t look very positive at the moment.”
Let’s all hope it is not as serious as it looked….