The sight of Granit Xhaka scoring the type of goal you’d associate with a poacher, is as clear an indication as any of his revised role under Mikel Arteta.
Having spent so long anchoring the midfield, either on his own or as part of a double pivot, the Switzerland international now operates further up the pitch in a left 8 position with a remit to get in the box when his teammates are attacking.
During the 4-2 win over Leicester, it worked a treat. He nearly gave the Gunners the lead with a header that came off the post following a teasing ball by Bukayo Saka and in the second half, calmed the nerves with a tap-in from close-range after man of the match Gabriel Jesus had nicked the ball from keeper Danny Ward.
“I’ve got more freedom to go up and down,” Xhaka told Arsenal.com afterwards.
“I know I can do that. I have a lot of freedom from the coach, from my teammates.
“At the moment I’m happy with how everything is going. Let’s continue to work like this and hopefully at the end of the season we can be more than happy.
“It’s always good when you score and it’s always good when you can help the team – not only me, but all the players did a great job today. I’m more than happy to help, of course.”
While Xhaka may well face competition from Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira in due course, for the time being, his manager is very pleased with how he’s adapted to the new remit.
“We want [Granit] to arrive in the box and create those moments,” said the boss.
“He has done it in his career, and I’m a big believer that he can do it and he now has this moment to do it.
“He should have scored another with that header in the first half, but I’m really pleased with him.”