“He’s doing things much, much better” – Arteta praises maturing Xhaka

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Mikel Arteta thinks Granit Xhaka has matured both on and off the pitch in the last year and is hopeful the Swiss can continue to build a rapport with new boy Thomas Partey.

The Spaniard has paired the midfielders in the centre of the park in Arsenal’s last four Premier League games and there are signs that things are starting to click.

Granted, a draw against Manchester United and Tuesday’s defeat to Wolves mark a downturn in results after five wins in six games, but for 46 pre-red card minutes at Molineux, the Gunners produced a purr-worthy performance. At the heart of that was Arteta’s new midfield double-pivot.

Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa, the boss was asked to assess Xhaka’s input.

He replied: “I thought he was excellent against Wolves the other night, he’s been really consistent.

“He’s improving game-by-game and his partnership with Thomas is getting stronger. They haven’t played much together and that chemistry has to flourish. They make each other better and we have a good balance between left and right foot in those spaces.

“Then, his leadership level, as well. I think he has matured a lot as a player and he has a big importance in the dressing room. On the pitch, he’s doing things much, much better than before.”

When a show of petulance led to Xhaka being sent off in the 1-0 defeat to Burnley – he was banned for three games – it felt like a frustrating step backwards for the player after a year spent rehabilitating his reputation following that incident during the 2019 clash with Crystal Palace.

His behaviour was again put under the microscope by the media and not for the first time he was the subject of abuse online. Since returning, his performances have been exemplary and Arteta believes the reaction is a sign of Xhaka’s character.

“It’s not just the Burnley game [that he got abused for],” reflected the boss. “He’s had two big episodes, you know. You can maybe overcome one of those, I think the second time he really showed that he doesn’t want to go through that again.

“We’re here to try and support our players, the club was exceptional giving him all the support. We try to do the same, the teammates did the same. He’s gone through it again. He’s getting a lot of praise for the way he’s playing. It’s down to his character and how much he wants to succeed at the club.”

Xhaka’s current contract at the Emirates runs until the end of June 2023. In the summer, the club will need to make a decision about whether to start talks over an extension. Arteta hinted the midfielder is very much part of his long-term vision for the club.

“He’s a really important player for us since I’ve been here,” he said. “He’s played almost every game and there’s no better way to show how much you like and value a player than by giving him minutes on the pitch.”

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Man Manny

If you ever needed a clue about where Granit Xhaka will be plying his trade next season…and beyond, there you go.
That should jolt some dreamers to reality.
Granit Xhaka is going nowhere!

A M

For his and Arsenal’s sake, hopefully Xhaka can put in such good shifts on a regular basis without the occasional debacle (red card vs Burnley, ‘fuck off’ incident vs Palace)

Ol' Gunner Soldier

Xhaka has moved on from that and already showed some consistencies. Hope u can too.

SalvadorMari

I hope he plays well enough to inflate his transfer value but not so well that we believe, once again, that he’s good enough to play for us.

Martin

So you wish him not to play too well. Toxic is too good for you

SalvadorMari

I’m more making a statement about the importance of the club’s hierarchy to not fall into the trap, as you clearly have, of allowing recency bias to play a part in long-term strategy.

It’s ok for oafs like you to praise him one week and call for his head the next, but it’s vital that the powers that be aren’t as naive and foolhardy as you.

Now put your handbag down and get on with wildly praising a failed player.

Goontastic

I believe that is what is known in the industry as a buuuuuuuuuurn 🔥

BillyKrystal

A bit harsh but completely agree. Xhaka has done well, doesn’t mean he should start every game for us for the next 4 years. It’s possible to want him and the team to perform well while understanding his quality doesn’t match our ambition.

Arsenalista

I think he meant by his standards.

Man Manny

Even a casual observer of Arteta should know by now that Xhaka will be an Arsenal player in the foreseeable future.
Any talk of Summer sale is mere wishful thinking except he clashed with the manager.
No Arsenal player has benefitted from Arteta’s appointment like Xhaka… and that investment is not short term.

Rick

He is not going anywhere, just entering his best years! You gonna tired to see xhaka face.

Martin

The red card against Burnley was 4 years ago and was the last one he has received. The Palace incident was an accumulation of things including receiving offensive tweets from some of our toxic supporters, some who wished his daughter would get cancer. Much time has passed since then so why not see him as he is today and how well he has played since he came back from suspension.

Futsboller

The Burnley red card was Dec 13, 2020. Feels like four years ago, but pandemic time is not to be trusted.

Eduar-do a deer

Don’t worry, some fans don’t understand gray areas. Xhaka is now a hero of our time, all his failures nearly rearranged after a few good performances.

Auba auba Laca Partey

50 shades of Gray?

Futsboller

Arsenal fans certainly aren’t renowned for their calm, cool, collected criticism. I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that Xhaka has performed very poorly at times in his Arsenal career, for which we have crucified him on these pages, while at the same time acknowledging, and giving him due praise for, his excellent performances of late. Moreover, if these performances continue and his numbers remain impressive in his midfield role, and if he and Partey become one of the best midfield partnerships in the league, then I would not begrudge the club for extending him and purchasing and understudy rather than… Read more »

A P

If Xhaka’s character was so strong, I doubt he would get into both incidents.

Plus, can we move on from focusing on the great 46 minutes and realise that we lost a game we expected to win, and lost ground?

Bossman Bill

Except we only expected to win at 47 minutes because of the preceding 46 minutes.

You can’t move on from the expectation without having the reason for the expectation in the first place.

(*Clare Danes maths meme*)

Sachin

Hey AP, remind me an Arsenal hero who never lost his cool.

Stop expecting the sky out of players – they are humans like you and me.

Enough with the fucking toxicity. The Jan enema didn’t do you good?

Matthinc

He’s such a divisive and confusing character for us fans. I can’t quite work or what to think of him these days. Can’t escape the feeling he’s got too many failings to really cut it, yet he’s been ever present for every manager we’ve had since he joined.

I think what rankles for me is that he’s not very likable on top of his brain farts and one dimensionality. So I’m quicker to lose sympathy when he makes *another* rash challenge or plays so insipidly.

adriano

Funny that the “fans” can’t seem to understand how great of a player this man is, while his managers, coaches and teammates love the shit out of him, and he plays and always has played every game when he’s available, for every club and manager he’s ever had…Funny stuff.

Jimbo

Funny how we have never finished even 4th ( remember that 4th was seen as failure by many before that as well) with the great xhaka in our midfield

Man Manny

And you think Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, and other underwhelming signings had nothing to do with our missing out on fourth. Only Granit Xhaka in midfield.
What a skewed analysis!

jimbo

you are all here wanking over how good xhaka is meanwhile we are 10th in the league finished 8th last season and havent done better than 5th since he signed what does that tell you?
Hes an average player in a key position who has the odd decent game. people saying he plays well with partey need to wake up we need 2 midfielders of quality like partey not shite like xhaka and elneny who need someone else to make them not look crap.

Sachin

Maybe it’s you… Ever thought of that? What if you were to support another club?

jimbo

Maybe support another club …yawn. does doesnt work like that does it. maybe for you little internet tv fans it does. not for real supporters.

Bryan Clayden

Just because they play him doesn’t make him great.

Sachin

Just because Arsenal fans hate an Arsenal player doesn’t make him terrible.

Fezec

Early years Ray Parlour, John Jensen, Perry Groves. All limited players who’s names were still sung by the Highbury faithful because their endeavours spoke to the fan in us.

We forgave them their failings because we recognised the effort or the character or the ‘one of us-ness”.

Xhaka is the opposite of this. A largely mediocre player with an arrogant streak.

An anti cult hero

He’s playing well. I’m pleased. I hope we sell him.

Safe Hands

Has been in great form for the last 6 weeks or so. He looks quicker (fitter?) than before and is showing off the aggressive side to his game in a positive and more controlled way on the pitch, rather than with the petulance and sulkiness we’ve seen before. I have to say I’ve been impressed with him. I think having a genuinely physical player next to him has helped tremendously, because he probably feels he doesn’t have to boss the physical battle all on his own. I’m sure just by watching Partey he has also seen more opportunity to pass… Read more »

Atom

It is worth considering that everyone who plays next to Partey looks good – remember the clamor for Elneny, which says far more about Partey than it does his partner. Xhakas flaws are pretty obvious and are unlikely to ever get fixed – he’s extremely slow & 1 footed. He’s the best we have for now but we need sn upgrade this summer

Safe Hands

I don’t think you’re giving him quite enough credit. Yes we need to sign a CM to offer genuine competition/alternatives to Xhaka, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t offer a lot to the team. His passing is some of the best in the side, he always make himself available for the ball and he competes well.Yes his flaws are obvious, but every player has flaws, it’s just about making sure they are revealed a hell of lot less than they have been in previous seasons. I think this is what Arteta is actually on about when he says he is… Read more »

Atom

We’ve seen this for years with Xhaka. He goes through periods of playing well (Partey has a lot to do with the current one) followed by periods of playing very poorly. The real question we should be asking is if the midfield is better off with a more mobile midfielder who doesn’t require Partey to do the work of 2 players. Xhaka just isn’t the level required for where we want to be – there’s years of evidence supporting that

Futsboller

What player doesn’t go through periods of playing well followed by periods of playing poorly? Even the all mighty Liverpool are struggling right now, just as City did out of the gate. What Arteta and Arsenal have to ensure is that we have options — when the bad form rolls up, we need to change things up.

Atom

There are lots of players who are fairly consistent. Xhakas flaws are so significant that he requires a player doing the defensive work / running for him. I’m glad he’s going through a patch of good form (Partey makes everyone look good) but the decision makers need to take a clear look at what he brings and what he detracts from the team. He clearly needs to be upgraded this summer. We can’t keep handing out new contracts to players based on a few good games – see Luiz.

mrugunner

indeed!

GHOST

His consistency should fetch a nice purse at the end of the season, xhaka is a fuck-up waiting to happen

Brett

It is actually mental how a moderately good run of form brings all Arsenal fans to their knees. It’s insane. The same thing happened with AMN. Couple decent shifts in the FA Cup and absolute uproar about a possible departure. Now he’s on loan at West Brom. Xhaka is a decent squad player at best. He’s shown countless times over the years he’s not good enough to help us get to where we need to be. There has been no real renaissance for him beyond a team no longer vastly underperforming. Sadly, time will once again prove this. And I… Read more »

Atom

The biggest question we really should be asking is if asking Partey to do the work of 2 players to hide Xhaka’s flaws really is the best use of Partey. It’s clear Partey is so much more than a DM and asking him to sprint up and down the field to cover for Xhaka isn’t best use of his talents

Futsboller

Not sure that is quite true. Firstly, Partey is being asked to play a box-to-box midfielder role, one he is apparently relishing. Ramsey used to bomb up and down, back and forth, and seemed to have endless puppy-energy out there. Partey also seems to relish that workmanlike role, but he adds to it a dribbler’s guile and a long-bow passing range. He’s stunning to watch, and he’s transformed our ability to control the midfield. I don’t think we’d be doing Partey and his talents any justice by restricting his movement and locking him into a more reserved role. Secondly, Xhaka… Read more »

Safe Hands

Perhaps he will flunk, I’m not completely ruling it out, but I’m also not ruling out the possibility that he can improve enough to be consistent enough to be a useful member of the squad that is worth keeping. Xhaka as he is at the moment is good enough for Arsenal …… That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking at signing another CM, in fact in my post I said we needed too. I guess maybe where we disagree is that I don’t necessarily think we need to get rid. I basically think there’s 2-3 other areas that are far… Read more »

Safe Hands

I’d also far rather see us prioritise getting rid of Elneny,Luiz , Willian, kolasinac, permanently, before Xhaka is even discussed.

Mcheza

I acknowledge the sense of Partey’s quality. But even to those of us who’d firmly turned out back on xhaka can’t deny his individual performance over the last 6 matches has been better than any period during his time at the club. I’d personally go as far as to say if he can sustain that level of quality for 80% of the season I’d have him till we have someone better than him. His tackling, defensive awareness and as pointed out measured aggression has been excellent. I’ll pass my own judgment dependent on how consistent he can be between now… Read more »

Pitchesbecrazy

Agreed. He has looked much better in recent weeks. He also seems to have a lot of respect from his team mates. I still think we should sign a CM this summer but I would keep Xhaka going forward. I would not have been saying that this time last year.

Dave

Bizarre that Xhaka is painted as some sideways / backwards passer at all. He’s always been one of the better players on our team statistically for final third progressions.

Biggles

“Maturing Xhaka…” – he’s 28 for goodness sake!! Yes, he’s improved overall, but he was pretty poor for a long time and was close to being sold not that long ago. As others have noted, he still doesn’t seem to be quite “mature” enough on occasion – will we have to wait until he’s around 30 for that? – but let’s see if/how he progresses.

GHOST

Xhaka in his prime is already trash, do we really want him at arsenal at 30+?

Rich

i never had a problem with Xhaka swearing at fans Don’t dish it out, if you can’t take it. He should have got off the pitch quicker, and emotions boiled over in a highly pressurised environment Sometimes these things happen Who hasn’t said or done things in the heat of the moment, that they haven’t later regretted in the cold light of day Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone….. The way people behave is more important than what they say I’d rather have someone like Xhaka who is apparently a model professional behind the scenes, who… Read more »

Cranky Colin

I’m gonna keep it simple for once.
He has been excellent recently.

GHOST

Recently being the operative word

Bossman Bill

5 games in a row for the first time in 4 years.

Player of the season.

Assshavin

I honestly didnt think the whole “fuck off” to the fans, was as bothersome as many have made it out to be. The fans for whatever reason felt that he wasnt good enough to be the captain of the team (something thats there for the team, not the fans), even though he was chosen by our other players. Which is sort of okay. But the abuse that came with it was not okay. It seemed like everytime he had the ball there was sulking in the stadium. And even though he had a very decent performance against palace where he… Read more »

jimbo

where you even at the game? he had an absolute shocker thats why he got subbed. and why people where happy that he was going off hence ironic cheers.
He then threw his toys out of the pram and walked off at a snails pace while we were in need of a goal and chasing the game. that is the reason he got booed.

sancho

here comes the jinx! Oh Mikel….

on a serious note I was also very impressed with Xhaka for the past 3-4 games…it’s clear now that he needed a Partey hard.

Nursing_father

People can say whatever they like about him but his mental resilience, he deserves an accolade

Ndouzi

I agree 100%. Possibly the most mentally resilient player in our team. To be fair, his form since December has been very good.

Brett

Impressive mental resilience to have an absolute breakdown on the pitch and refuse to apologize. Equal signs of mental fortitude to lose your temper and get sent off for grabbing someone by the neck.

His ability to keep his composure and show this mental fortitude deserves praise.

Matthinc

Yeah, he seems quite good at, eventually, coming back. But resilience it ain’t.

GHOST

The same ressiliance that said fuck off to arsenal fans, and instead of apologizing played the victim

Blink

He was our best midfielder before Partey & is still our 2nd best now.
He is a very good player if he cuts out the brain farts. He has been excellent recently.
Jordan Henderson type quality at his best.

Cultured Determination

We never know what sort of time bomb we are stepping on with xhaka. He’s the,midfield luiz. Sell and rebuild.

GHOST

Took the words right out my mouth

Biggles

At 28, he really should be a fairly “mature” person – regardless of whether he’s a footballer or not – so should be able to show everyone what he can (or can’t) do by now. He still appears to have some disciplinary problems and, if so, your “time bomb” reference is spot on. That said, I suspect that there’s a competent player “in there” trying to get out. Will he, though?

N10

Could not agree more. We can’t compete in this league with these types of players.

To be fair to Xhaka, he’s had the best run of form in his Arsenal career whilst paired w Partey, been “set free” as mentioned on this site. His passing is accurate, and sometimes excellent, but not progressive enough. Get in a proper DM like Bissouma, and if Odegaard cilcks, that’s a league-leading midfield.

We’ve got a few more pages to turn, gooners, before we’re “back. on. top.”

TOGooner

Xhaka is playing fantastic football and long may that continue, but his current contract runs out when he turns 30 in two years, so he’s perfectly in decision making territory this summer. If he gets suitors based on this form, then great but I’m sure he will want a last big contract this summer. It is the best time to part for both parties.

Ealing

Amen

Arsenalista

I like xhaka and I do think he is improving but I still think we can and should get an upgrade.

GHOST

Xhaka, Luiz and William are sub par players on high wages, they should have been on the exit list, we all know as soon as the window approaches xhaka’s performances mysteriously improve temporarily

Qwaliteee

I actually hope he improves to the extent that we consider a new deal. He could yet become a useful and experienced squad player.

I have my doubts that this will happen – but he will have proved me wrong about him.

Me from Here

The resurgence of Xhaka has more to do with Partey in the team. He has been used wrongly by most of our managers. Xhaka is a deep-lying playmaker with passing abilities. He is not your DM or MF general. Watch him in Switzerland, he plays ahead of Zakaria (DM). Blame him for those crazy moments but our team has struggled and he has played mostly in wrong positions.

karl

He has the determination to be good, but always lacked real quality beside him in midfield. The transformation is down to Partey.

Qwaliteee

He’s not the only one to benefit from having good players like Partey, Saka and ESR around him. Pepe is finally able to express himself a bit more rather than becoming a part of Willian and Elneny’s horseshoe.

Bossman Bill

The comments are an absolute xhaka sausage fest, so let me say this.

I agree he’s “much much better” – but that’s only because of the absolute dross he’s served up for years before.

He’s still basically just passing it sideways and giving the ball away, just partey’s athletic enough that he covers for xhaka’s mistakes now.

Watch him tomorrow against Villa and if he honestly makes any surgical passes I’ll bow out and never darken your doorsteps again.

Ealing

He makes the occasional great pass, assist and goal from free kick, but never enough

Pau

We’ve been here many times before.

Rick

Xhaka is finally settle down as an arsenal player. Keep it up xhaka!!

Ealing

Just think we could have bought ngolo Kante, not got Mustafi, sold Sanchez rather than swapping
For me he represents the beginning of AV’s steep decline

Torterrier

Aston Villa are actually on an upward curve.

chepetin

In the photo, it looks like Xhaka is telling Craig Pawson, “You are the weakest link.”

Murphy was an Arsenal Fan

In many ways Xhaka is representative of the club these past years. His “fuck off” incident didn’t come too long before Emery’s sacking, which itself was preceded by the board calling Arsenal fans “noise”. His performances have looked great and resurgent when the team’s has, and when Arsenal have not performed well, both under Emery and Arteta, and even Wenger, Xhaka’s flaws are viciously exposed. He is a good player for us, for sure, but his relationship with the fans – the most definitive part of a club – will always be fractious, and volatile. I wouldn’t want him to… Read more »

mrugunner

“Arteta hinted the midfielder is very much part of his long-term vision for the club.”
omg.. he doesnt learn

Anthony

He’s doing a lot of things right at the moment, and we should be thankful for that, a Xhaka playing well, heling the team achieve their goals, whilst going about his business without making headlines is a good thing. I appreciate that for some of the fan base he is a divisive figure, he does seem to have matured since that incident, but let’s also remember he is supported by his manager which he needs. Under Emery, it felt like he had become the scapegoat for the teams failings, and his manager seemed to just allow it to happen. It’s… Read more »

Santori

All players make mistakes. But some are constantly put under microscope by certain people and clueless media pundits. They prefer to laud Partey but conveniently ignore Xhaka. we have been in general better BC both now give us quick release from deep and they seem to dove tail with each other very well. This is the problem with many people who have their opinions shaped by others. They criticise Mustafi but even without him or Xhaka, we still have poor results and do silly things. Meanwhile they will conveniently ignore positive contributions by either player. It was the same with… Read more »

Domi

I think that xhaka, as mustafi and luiz, is mentally weak and will again fuck up big time. The interview in guardian is embarrassing as well and shows his in true light.

But we need to get burned again to learn that (he will fuck up again), as we shouldn’t have prolonged luiz’ contract and saw now how much it costs us to have such a player on the pitch, even if the red card and the penalty is super harsh.

Still think xhaka should leave asap and can’t wait for that to happen.

MontrealGooner

I have been impressed by Xhaka’s development this season – bar Burnley. It is clear that Partey has been a productive partner for him. I would ideally like to see another midfielder to come in during the summer. Someone like Bissouma would be ideal. That way we can rotate these players and mitigate injuries.