Granit Xhaka insists that Arsenal remain ‘legendary’ despite an 8th placed finish in the Premier League this season, and potentially no European football next time around.
The Swiss international was reflecting on what was an extraordinary campaign for him personally, and a disappointing one for the club in general. It was put to him that given the position we’ve ended up in, Arsenal might not be a considered a big club.
Speaking to Blick, he replied, “What kind of question is that? Arsenal FC is and remains a legendary club. For many young players, and also for me, it is a dream, indeed an honour, to be allowed to appear.
“I see the club, especially with Mikel Arteta, well positioned for the future and I am sure that the Gunners will attack European football again soon.”
His relationship with Arteta helped him put behind the unrest that followed his brief spell as captain and that incident against Crystal Palace. Admitting he had a concrete offer from Hertha Berlin, conversations with the newly appointed manager led him to stay and fight for his place.
“He convinced me to stay with Arsenal,” said the 28 year old.
“We had a very good conversation shortly after his appointment, and I can really only say positive things about him. He is a young, very meticulous trainer who gives more than 100% in every training session, who optimally prepares us for every single game.
“I have rarely experienced this. He is really a great guy as a coach, but also as a person and I have already learned a lot from him during the time he is with us. Many details that have made me even better.
“So it’s really a pleasure to be able to play under him.”
The midfielder received plaudits for his role in the 2-0 win over Man City, but he played down the idea that he should be feted himself, or that he’s out to prove people wrong after the difficulties earlier in the season.
“What does celebrating mean?,” he asked. “Not just me, the whole team deserves it. Everyone knows Man City is a team with top quality, with world class players and a very good coach.
“We put in a great team performance and you cannot single out one player, but the whole starting eleven and also the substitutes and the whole squad. And our willpower and attitude, otherwise you have no chance against Manchester City.
“It has nothing to do with my personal appreciation, that’s not what I care about. I always look from game to game, always try to give my maximum, to meet and implement the coach’s specifications. I don’t go into the game to show the fans who booed me before that I can do something.
“That is not what drives me.”
It really is hard to fault his attitude, and if we’re to come out on top at Wembley on Saturday, we’ll need plenty of that – and a good Xhaka performance as well.