Granit Xhaka spoke to the Swiss press following our 1-0 win over Newcastle at the weekend. Our thanks to Arseblog News reader Florian Schneider for translating it for us.
This is what he had to say.
A 1-0 win with Arsenal in the first game of the season against Newcastle – how happy are you?
I’m very pleased with the three points. Away from home at Newcastle, that’s not easy. But we were very solid. This good start gives us confidence and hope for the next weeks.
How big was your anticipation for the new season? Or would you rather have had a longer break?
I have a great appetite for football again! I could recover wonderfully on holiday. Besides, the team were training very well, we could prepare ideally for the start of the season. I often thought: ‘Finally, soon it will kick off again!’
Now you could even lead Arsenal as captain. What does it mean to you?
It’s a dream I have always worked towards. It’s a recognition of my performances for the club, on the other side of course a special responsibility as well for me as a person – after all I follow club legends like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry.
Other than a lot of coaches Unai Emery nominates some sort of captain group, containing of five players. How does it work exactly?
At the moment we are just three players in this captain team, besides me it’s Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal. We lead the team together. At the moment I am quasi ‘Captain Number 1’. The armband only changes through injuries, suspensions or other absences.
How big is the disappointment about the 1:4 in the Europa League final against Chelsea still?
The defeat still hurts me, you don‘t discard it just like that. For me the final has been the highlight of my career so far. So it still hurts even after weeks not to have won the title.
What gives you the confidence that Arsenal will finish higher than 5th place in the Premier League at the end of this season?
We were very close to the top last season, but unfortunately we unnecessarily dropped points against supposed weaker teams too often. These supposed mandatory points we have to get better at now. If we can do that and get the odd big point, we will be successful in the race for the Champions League places, therefore finish at least 4th – or maybe even be able to leap to the very top.