Granit Xhaka says he has no qualms about playing every three days for Arsenal despite the World Cup coming into view.
The Switzerland captain, one of three Gunners to have played over 1,100 minutes so far this season, maintains his current exertions are in line with what he’s done in the past and that burnout won’t be an issue for him before the Premier League takes a break to accommodate Qatar 2022.
“No, I was never thinking like this, I will never think like this when I go on the pitch,” the midfielder told the Evening Standard after last night’s 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven.
“This is football, [getting injured] can happen in one second. You have to put your foot in when it is a 50-50 ball. And me, my personality, the people who know me, I will never back out of that.
“I am not worried about [playing too many minutes] because the staff, the coach, they know how I am physically, how I look after myself. It is not the first time I am doing this [amount of] games in a row.”
Xhaka’s volley in the 70th minute was enough to secure Arsenal’s place in the knockout stages of the Europa League and maintains the club’s incredible start to the season.
It’s now 13 wins from 14 matches in all competitions and the optimism in the camp is helping to keep him motivated.
“I am feeling very good. Of course, every time you win it makes it a little bit easier, but yeah I am not worried about the minutes, or the World Cup, or the future.
“I don’t think it’s about my games at the moment, I’ve been here seven years and my numbers speak for themselves. The numbers I’ve got for this football club, how many games I have had in seven years. I calculated maybe two years ago that I’m playing 45 games a season.
“It’s a number I had always in the past as well. Really I’m not thinking about a break. Mikel is the boss, he decides when to take me out and when not to. He did against Bodo, it was maybe perfect timing to give me a bit of a rest. Games like this, everyone wants to play.”
Last night, Mikel Arteta dismissed worries about his stars being overplayed pointing to stars at other clubs who are featuring in 70 odd games a season.
“You want to be at the top, you have to be able to do that,” he explained.
“If we start to put something different in the minds of our young players I think we are making a huge mistake because then it’s one yes, one no, now I don’t play, on astroturf I don’t play, I don’t want that.
“I want them to be ruthless every three days.”
Ahead of the win against Leeds last Sunday, Arteta hinted that some of his players are feeling the strain of their hectic October schedule. With a tight squad to choose from and seven more games to play before the middle of November, he faces a difficult job keeping them out of the treatment room.
For Xhaka, the aim is to give everything to stay at the summit of the Premier League before an opportunity to take stock.
“It has to be [the aim],” he said. “When you are there, you have to be there as long as possible. I think if we have the chance to stay there and the World Cup comes, maybe it is a good break for everyone, maybe for us as well, to prepare something else for January.”