Granit Xhaka says it doesn’t matter whether he’s partnered in midfield with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey or with Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal will only achieve success if everyone in the squad is pulling in the same direction on the defensive front.
With 36 starts to his name in all competitions, the joint highest at the Emirates, the Swiss has had to repeatedly adapt to the differing styles of teammates coming in and out of the side this season.
While he still seems to struggle with the pace of English football at times, the Swiss has looked more comfortable in recent Europa League wins over AC Milan; a competition the Gunners will look to prioritise in the coming months.
In the official matchday programme ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game with Stoke on Easter Sunday, Xhaka touched on life behind Wilshere and Ramsey and the need for collective responsibility.
“When I play with those two, I’m a bit deeper, basically just in front of the defence,” he said.
“Jack and Aaron like to go forward, to get into the box, whereas I’m happy to stay back and build the play from a deeper area.
“In the past it’s worked well, even if we haven’t had the results to back that up, and in the AC Milan games, we combined well together.
He added: “Mo [Elneny] likes to sit quite deep sometimes, and think from a defensive perspective.
“Jack and Aaron naturally go forward more. But we all have our qualities and always try to help each other out.
“I’ve always said that to be successful, you need all 11 players, plus those on the bench and those in the squad.
“You can’t just win a game because two or three players have a good game. You have to work together as a unit, both in defence and in attack. I think we’ve become stronger defensively because we’re all really focusing on what we need to do.
“Everyone knows that we have a lot of quality going forward, but at the moment I think we’ve got that balance and we need to keep that.”