As David Luiz was sent off last night, Granit Xhaka slotted into the central defensive position the Brazilian had vacated as Mikel Arteta considered his options.

The Arsenal boss took his time, but seemed ready to bring on Rob Holding to partner Shkodran Mustafi, which would see the Swiss international push back into midfield.

However, with the Gunners coping well despite the one man disadvantage, he decided against it – explaining afterwards he felt it would have sent a negative message to his players.

It meant Xhaka played the rest of the game at the back, and he was seriously impressive. As well as providing calm on the ball, he made 6 ball recoveries, 100% of his clearances in the box (6/6), 100% of his tackles (2/2), and showed real leadership as we looked to cope with ten men.

Understandably, his performance drew praise from Mikel Arteta afterwards, who admitted it’s been a strange time for the 27 year old.

“From day one, I spoke with him,” said the manager.

“Obviously his mind was a little bit varied after a lot of things that happened to him in his life and his family. I tried to convince him that it was the right place for him to play. I

“wanted to try to give him the opportunity to try to enjoy playing football again. Everything I ask him to do, every training session, he’s like this and is willing to do it.

“Today, I knew the moment I put him there, I don’t know how well he was going to do but he was going to put everything in.

“He was great.”

Check out Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal player ratings – and rate the players yourself.

For his part, while happy to do a job there, Xhaka hoped afterwards it was just a one off.

“I hope it’s not my new position,” he joked with BT Sport, “but he [Arteta] knows I can play there. I try to help the team and I’m happy the guys around me made things easier today.

“I’m very happy!”

Check out today’s Arseblog: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: Martinelli takes centre-stage as Gunners show real character

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Togetherness 10/10

The results will come.


Too right! Makes me think while enjoying these Arteta performances that we got lucky missing out on the Champions League last season. Would’ve been a new Emery contract for sure and then at least a season more of that nonsense.

Maybe the Giroud goal was his last favour to us Arsenal fans.


Or put another way,

‘Victoria concordia crescit’. Lovely to see the team doing just that.


Good to have every Player happy, i think Mikel Alteta is going to be one of a very good coaches, his man management skills is pretty impressive turning a positive vibe in the current squad, every one is Happy I honestly thought it couldn’t be done.
The way he treated Luiz after a red, Pure Class.

Cliff Bastin

What a weird season.


Truly, an odd timeline.


This is the darkest timeline, we all need to wear goatees


I hope it’s not my new position. Yes, it’s a joke but I’m sure he means it as well. He was incredible there but it takes one fatal mistake to bring the darkness back. That said, what’s important and impressive is the effort, determination and perseverance. Arteta is instilling the right cultures. Back him in the summer whoever is in charge. Also, whoever scouted Martinelli should be tasked to do more of whatever he’s doing to get us the likes of Fàbregas , Bellerin and this kid. Give Martinelli another 6 year contract ASAP. He has the right attitude and… Read more »


whoever scouted Martinelli should be allowed to continue smoking whatever it is that they are smoking


I believe it was Edu who found him


No I don’t think so..Caggigao was the name most closely linked with his acquisition.

Reality check

Caggigao was made head of scouting after Sven left and has been credited with finding Martinelli.

Matt Watkins

edu got him to arsenal, but in terms of scouting I think he was widely known as a prospect.


Yay, the new defensive signing has arrived !

John Lukic's gangly beanpole legs


Man Manny

Arteta is evidently the man for Arsenal.
We didn’t have the proverbial New Manager Bounce like Sp*rs; they’ve come crashing back down before one could blink properly though, but we are steadily evolving into a solid team with identity, grit and team spirit..
Arteta has shown that the purported weak mentality was a function of coaching. I doubt this guys would still be ‘scared’ at Watford.
I am gradually loving life again as an Arsenal fan.
The dark clouds are fading
A new day is breaking


Was more than happy to see the back of him a couple of months ago, it’s been a huge turnaround and the player and manager both deserve credit for that.


The sheer difference between Emery and Arteta…


‘If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame’ Art of War, Sun Tzu


I think this must be why he’s been successful in Spain but not really anywhere else. Not even really much of a criticism, many managers have failed to have success across multiple leagues or outside of their home country. I don’t think he adapted well to the language or cultural barrier. He’s clearly a very good coach, and I don’t think our players hated him or anything (maybe ozil and Torreira haha) but, with the benefit of hindsight, he wasn’t the right fit in any way.


So winning a treble and double with PSG was a failure?

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

His problem was that he could win cups but he couldn’t manage the teams to be successful in their respective leagues. We had the same experience pretty much all of his teams have had.


I know things didn’t work out for him with us and I was hoping he’d make us better but now that the man is gone he deserves a little bit more respect as a former manager. He’s a gooner too at some level though things didn’t end well.

This is by no means an attack but we seem to highlight his bad moments every time we have something to be excited about. Maybe it’s time we enjoyed Arteta’s positives independently


Agree about enjoying Arteta’s positives independently but I will never forgive Emery for lying right through his teeth. Saying stuff about wanting to win every match 5-4 and protagonist talk and setting up like a coward almost made me fall out of love from football


Lying right through his teeth! How?
Have you considered that he wanted all of that and tried but could get it done because he wasn’t good enough?


I’m not sure that he lied, it’s quite possible he was trying to do that & just couldn’t make it work. Towards the end it seemed he tried a different thing every game & none of it went well. What I find a bit difficult to forgive is his horrible mismanagement of some of the players, and Xhaka probably got the worst of it. Yes he’s a limited player but turns out he’s not half bad with a manager who understands that and plays to his strengths. And he could have been a very good captain indeed if he’d had… Read more »


Emery tried hard to make Arsenal successful in difficult circumstances. He did not appoint himself, however, it is obvious with hindsight that he was the wrong man for the job.
The language barrier, the confusing lack of a system or style, the lackluster performances, the flimsy defence, the frustrated players. It was horrible.

With No disrespect to Emery, Thank fuck for Arteta.

Reality check

Yeh Emery wasn’t a bad person, just a bad coach for us, especially coming in to replace the great Arsene Wenger. Stayed humble and dignified till the very end. I respect him but don’t want him to coach my team, simples..

Thierry Walcott

“I don’t know how well he was going to do but he was going to put everything in.” – This is why Xhaka was captain. You saw him out on that field last night that he’s a natural leader, strong-willed and knows how to want it.

I haven’t been his biggest fan at all but credit where it’s due, both to Arteta for giving him a chance and the confidence to turn things around, and to him for taking it by the scruff of the neck.


I say give him the armband back.

Julio Baptista's humble alter ego

Sadly, we are way past that I reckon

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

New manager. New attitude from Xhaka. Truckloads of fans who are incapable of changing their opinion once they’ve decided to hate somebody.


I didn’t know that I will ever say or admit this, but Xhaka was very good yesterday and will only get better with Arteta at the helm of affairs at Arsenal. I now like what am starting to see from him on the pitch nowadays and hopefully he will continue to improve and remain after the summer should that be the case. That’s not to negate the need for a natural and solid DM and CD come summer. With better and visionary planning, it can only get better. Let us dare to dream again, because dreams do come true!


What I like about Arteta is he’s figured out a way to get the most out of some limited players which is just flat out good coaching. That said some of our players just aren’t good enough for where we’re headed and likely will need to be replaced. That will require some faith from the fans in Edu and Arteta.


I thought he was pretty good, but really surprised that people thought he was THIS good at CB. He played Azpilecueta onside as well as Batshyui who should have scored all the while looking down the line. He was better than I expected (after being poor in a back three before) but not the answer back there. Unfortunately for us I’ll we have are question marks or guys that we all know are not up to standard.


There’s so much optimism right now (really refreshing after past 4-5 years) that everything is kind of being glossed over. That said this squad is only 6 points off relegation which tells you there are going to be massive changes coming to the make up of the squad over the next year or two. In their current states Luiz, Mustafi/papa, Ozil & possibly Xhaka (he’s playing much better but his lack of athleticism still is an issue) will likely all need to be replaced. Add in Auba who won’t sign a new contract and possibly Lacazette for similar reasons. That… Read more »


Probably my least favourite thing about Xhaka being singled out for the abuse and vitriol he was is that, arguably, there isn’t a more committed and professional player in the squad. He makes his mistakes, of course, but I still like him and he’s been very good under Arteta so far. Would be nice if he could become the player we thought we were getting when we signed him.


We played like gunners

The Far Post

No matter what we think of his skillset, there is no doubt that Xhaka commits fully to the things he believes in. Am glad that Arteta managed to convince him of the current Arsenal project and that we now have him in our corner.

Matt Watkins

commits fully to fouls too, probably why he gets so many yellows 😀

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

He’s doing his fouls further up the pitch now. Arteta knows his business.


Credit where it is due. He was great last night and has been working hard on the pitch on a regular basis. I can already see the love, for him, return.


I hope it is his new position.


Probably the best Cback display this season. I don’t think Xhaka was too happy about insinuations from the post match interviewer that it could be his new position though…. Still good to see Arteta has turned around one of the better players we have where the fans only served to have made things worse before. As mentioned for sometime, Granit is one of our better players and there was a reason why BOTH Wenger and Emery started him consistently. The extra attention to positioning given by Arteta has improved Xhaka tremedously, he isn’t as helter skelter but he has also… Read more »


If he was at Sheffield he would be an overlapping centreback


Granit is a prime example how too many fans and pundits simply write off certain players because they prefer to amplify or put these players faults under microscope without seeing their merits. We had similar issue with Flamini back 2014. The red herring and lazy presumption was “he flammed it up”. he was at fault for everything. BUT on closer analysis (something most blogs prefer not to engage in), he held together with Ramsey during a very difficult period through Xmas and we beat City as well as a must win away at Olympiakos with that pairing. This with a… Read more »


I’m so glad he’s proving a lot of pricks wrong. I’m also glad that supporters are somewhat apologising for abusing him. I just hope those supporters have genuinely learned from this, and don’t go abusing any other Arsenal players in future. Otherwise, their apologies and this goodwill towards him are bullshit.