“Xhaka, it’s strange,” Hoddle reacts to Arteta’s latest squad tinkering

Glenn Hoddle says he found it strange that Mikel Arteta played Granit Xhaka as a left-back in Arsenal’s match against Sheffield United at the weekend.

The Gunners were without Kieran Tierney, who faces a spell on the sidelines yet again and it forced Arteta to become creative in his selections.

The former midfielder has used Cedric Soares in that position before now, but he opted to rest the Portugal international and used Xhaka as a cover there instead.

The Gunners attacked with a back-three but defended with a back four and Xhaka was the left-back in those circumstances.

The formation did pay off with a brace from Alexandre Lacazette and another strike from Gabriel Martinelli enough to help Arsenal earn all the points from the match.

Hoddle says that was a strange way to set up his team, but the Gunners kept a clean sheet at the end of the day and he says it would give them a psychological advantage even though it was against Sheffield United.

Hoddle told Optus Sport on Premier League Productions: “Xhaka, it’s strange, They are playing three at the back when in possession.

“And then defensively they go into a four, with Xhaka playing an unusual (position). 

About Arsenal’s clean sheet, he added: “Well, physiologically it is (important). They put Xhaka in that left-back position when they defended, at times and then when they got on the ball they went into a three.

“But clean sheets breeds confidence, albeit against Sheffield United, who didn’t create too much. But the reason they didn’t create too much is that Arsenal had possession of the ball.”

Tags Glenn Hoddle Granit Xhaka


  1. I find it’s the observation from Hoddle that’s “strange”.

    Cedric will play L/B on Thursday (and was being held back with this in mind) with Xhaka moving back into midfield.

    With Thursday in mind, Arteta looked at his L/B options for the game at Bramell Lane.

    Mikel is at Colney every day, and knows his squad inside out.

    He obviously sees Xhaka as a lot more versatile, reliable and “go to” than many of our fan base (having also used him at centre back) so trusted him to play at L/B against a basically relegated Sheffield United.

    An excellent 3-0 win (i.e. clean sheet), so the managers call proved correct.

    Not so “strange” !

    Also whilst on Xhaka.

    There are a number of audio clips emerging from The Sheff’ United game, after each goal.

    Xhaka obviously see’s himself as a leader within the current side (although it was Lacca wearing the armband).

    This player (Xhaka) divides opinion in true “Marmite” fashion.

  2. Before the match no-one on JA suggested using Xhaka as a replacement for Tierney at LB so Hoddle is on the right track when he used the word “strange”Of course the word he meant to use was “surprising”

    1. Hi Grandad.

      You are of course correct re’ no prediction on J A re’ left back.

      So it’s well done Mikel, as I thought Xhaka was excellent.

      If Hoddle knew his onions re’ Arsenal this season, given that Xhaka had played at L/H centre back for us already, knocking across to L/B against Sheffield United he perhaps could have “worked this one out” ?

      Still it matters not – we won 3-0

  3. Slavia are a different proposition to Sheffield Utd and so it’s not really that strange that you would use different tactics against different opponents because they all present different obstacles, all the same the Xhaka experiment worked and it might be worth another try if Arteta thinks it’ll work, although Slavia do have a lot of pace on their flanks and as Sheffield have none it’s likely we’ll se a more conventional back four on Thursday.

  4. It was an inspired call in my book, Xhaka played a blinder at left back, though it was Sheffield and may not work with other opponents, but a good call in this instance by the boss.

    1. Agreed Declan.

      But a man who has played the game at the highest level and managed;


      Found it “strange”.

      This given we were short at L/B for this game in the first place, and it was always the case M A had to come up with something.

      Oh well, Glenn’s the “pundit”.

      Keown everyday – he knows the Arsenal !

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