A well-taken volley by Granit Xhaka was enough for Arsenal to overcome a lacklustre PSV Eindhoven and secure a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
The Swiss international fired home with 20 minutes remaining to take his goal tally for the season to three and at the final whistle was lauded by supporters who merrily sung his new chant as the Emirates Stadium DJ spun “Glad All Over” by the Dave Clark Five.
In his post-match press conference, Arteta was asked about the 30-year-old’s good form and the love he’s getting from the terraces.
“He deserves that, he has faced adversity in difficult moments. He has put his arm up when he had something different to do, his work ethic, the way he is as a person, the way he treats everyone around the club, and the love for this football club and profession is unquestionable.
“He fully deserves that and I’m really happy to see him enjoying his career.”
While Arsene Wenger suggested Xhaka was a box-to-box midfielder when he was signed from Borussia Moenchengladbach, for most of his time as a Gunner, he’s been deployed as a deep-lying midfielder.
Few could have predicted the current renaissance playing in a more advanced position.
On what the coaching team have done to eke out another level of performance from Xhaka, Arteta said: “Sometimes it’s just unlocking something in the player’s mind and be more open and be receptive to all the things.
“He’s been extremely open and his work rate all the time to learn is fantastic, and now I think it’s paying off.”
Tonight’s win made it 13 from 14 in all competitions this season for a side who clearly enjoying their football.
Even with games coming every three days, the players are finding a way to get the better of their opponents.
“Great to have clean sheets,” said Arteta of a third consecutive one-nil victory.
“I think today we should’ve scored many more goals, the same in the first half against Leeds, that will come but I’m really pleased with the performance and how we played.
“The confidence is there and you can see that for me it’s the hunger to go again and try to win.”
Asked if the squad’s mentality has shifted since the start of the season, he added:
“I think after every game, it’s a bit different, it depends on the win, how you play, how you felt during that match and managing the temperature of the team, making sure they play with enough confidence, that we are on our toes and ready to go to Southampton and put on the performance required to win the match and this is the challenge and we are enjoying the challenge.”
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. Get this boy on a contract extension. What is he now? 27? 28? Man, this team – these youngsters – NEED him around for at least two more seasons after this one. Not only that, if we ARE going to win the Europa League, qualify for the Champions League, dammit win the fucking Premiership – there is no one who will deserve it more than this guy. His redemption and the way he has turned his career at this club around is beyond superlatives. Quite simply, the guy is worth his weight… Read more »
“What is he 27, 28?”
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The skillset he’s got, it’s only going to get better even if he’s 30. He was never a speed merchant, always more of a lynchpin.
I can’t believe he’s been here 7 years now.. Heck, even if he doesn’t get a statue outside the stadium, I’ll always have a photo of him in my wallet rather than my wife.
Agreed. Seeing Xhaka play with a smile on his face is just nice to see
I hope and pray Granit Xhaka wins a major trophy with Arsenal before he leaves finally.
Great servant of the club, he is.
He’s won 2 FA Cup medals.
Not enough. I am thinking EL, CL and EPL. We are gradually getting there. I hope he is part of the Partey. No doubting Thomas, please.
FA Cup >> Europa League
FA Cup has the history, but Europa is more financially lucrative and comes with a Champions League position.
Which is 2 more than the entire spurs squad.
haha well said. As for Granit, well done lad, enjoy and keep going! GOYG
2 more than many entire sp*rs squads
He’s stuck through us through thick and thin… as we have with hi. I love Granit Xhaka. Arsenal legend at a time we needed a human being like him at the club.
Xhaka has never been the quickest, and if he can do what he’s doing this season without that extra pace, he can go on a few more years into his 30s.
Absolutely. My thoughts too. Evergreens like Modric, Kroos, Milner et. al, come to mind.
A la Milner and Ibrahimovic
Never been a fan of Xhaka to be honest but credit to him he has been outstanding this season and turned things around. How much of his great form is his hard work and how much is due to tactical adjustments by Arteta? Either way I am happy for him. Good to see him happy.
xhaka..that guy..so statisfying to see him turn his situation around..and last night, never see him smiling while playing a whole match before..super!
At this rate, if we win the EPL Xhaka should get the Ballon D’or.
Never, but would love it!
Giving the players belief to give other players belief.
Hope Granit learns this lesson well when he inevitably become a manager
I never thought I’d ever like this man at Arsenal. He’s really turned things around and deserves credit when it’s due
Life’s full of surprises.
Petition to start calling Granit The Terminator.
I know we used it for TV5 all those years ago, but cmon!!