Arsene Wenger has drawn a comparison between new boy Granit Xhaka and double-winner Emmanuel Petit after the Swiss international’s excellent performance against Watford.
The 23 year old pulled the strings from deep in the midfield, showing a range of passing that added an extra dimension to Arsenal’s attacking play. For Wenger he saw shades of the man he signed from Monaco in 1997, who became a key component alongside Patrick Vieira in that double winning side.
He is a guy who plays naturally behind the ball,” he told Arsenal Player. “He is a bit similar to Petit in the way he plays football. He likes to sit, give good long balls and be available with the centre-backs.
“He has a good engine, good stature, he is good in the air and has a good balance in his game, he has a good short ball and a good long ball.
“I believe he has a good mixture of short and long balls, in midfield it is important for us to sometimes stretch the defenders,” Wenger said after the match.
“We have a game that is based on shorter passes than other teams so sometimes when you have a player who can kick the longer ball, it gives us a chance to get some oxygen and some space.”
It seems pretty clear this is why Wenger brought him to the club, to add qualities to midfield that have been missing. It’s going to be very interesting to see how he develops over the coming months.