When Mikel Arteta took over at Arsenal, he inherited a mess overall, and an extremely toxic situation with ex-captain Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss international’s relationship with many fans had gone beyond breaking point after his furious reaction to being booed when substituted against Crystal Palace.
It was widely expected he’d leave the club in January, with Hertha Berlin ready to provide an escape route for the midfielder.
However, when he arrived, Arteta promised everyone a clean slate and a chance under him, and Xhaka has been one of the big beneficiaries.
He’s a regular in the team again, and like every other player at Wembley played a superb part in the 2-0 win over Man City on Saturday.
The Arsenal boss admitted he had to convince the 27 year old he had a future with the Gunners, and that other players could look at him as an example of how things in football aren’t always black and white.
“The challenge with Granit was to convince him that there was still a place for him here, that I had big belief in him and that things can turn around pretty quickly in this industry,” said Arteta at his pre-Villa press conference.
“He had to send the right messages, first of all he had to believe that he could do it and if that was the case we were going to support him all the way through. I am really glad to hear and sense as well the reaction from the fans towards him.
“I think they can appreciate what he has done, that’s in the past and there’s a lot of positives to take from difficult situations.
We all learn from that and I think he is a really good example for any player that is in a difficult moment … if you are willing and if you are consistent and you really want to do it there is always a way back.”
Arteta backed Xhaka, along with David Luiz, as players who ‘suffer’ when things don’t go right, but whose desire to succeed is high.
“They are two players that are worth spending time with and giving confidence, because I know how professional they are, how much they want to be successful at this football club and how much they care,” he continued.
“Sometimes when they react or they have difficulties, they really suffer and when that happens, they deserve support and back up.
“They are showing from their performances that they deserve to be here and you can see how they fight for the club.”