Sky Sports pundit Paul Robinson recently lauded the efforts of Granit Xhaka, speaking highly of Arsenal’s central engine after a breakneck start to the season.
The Lowdown: Xhaka reborn
Xhaka has had a tumultuous career at Arsenal, often in the news for the right and wrong reasons, but has found his feet and then some under boss Mikel Arteta’s tutelage recently.
Notably seeing his captaincy stripped in 2019, Xhaka has been a fickle figure in North London, praised for his dogged approach and brutal strike power, but berated for an innately rash and reckless nature.
However, as Arsenal top the Premier League table, and their Europa League group, Xhaka has been highlighted as a vital cog in the Arsenal engine.
The Latest: Robinson praises player
Speaking on the Football Daily show, former England international and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Paul Robinson heaped a veritable mountain of praise on the Swiss international:
“Mikel Arteta has found his position. Yes, he’s been asked to do a lot more defensive duties in previous years. This year he’s kind of had the shackles taken off him, a little bit; with Thomas Partey, he knows he’s got that safety blanket around him.”
“What we’ve seen this season is when Zinchenko plays, or Tomiyasu plays, at left-back, he allows the left-back to drift into midfield.
“I think he’s been a revelation this year, Arsenal have got a lot of good players but he’s arguably their best player this year.”
The Verdict: Pivotal figure
There is no denying Arsenal’s brilliant, intense start to the campaign, and there is no denying Xhaka’s influence on a team that has picked up 13 wins from their first 15 matches, across all competitions.
Robinson is not the only pundit waxing lyrical over the resurgent £120k-per-week midfielder, with Gunners legend Martin Keown delighted with the “outstanding” Xhaka, saying he was well on the way to becoming a “fan favourite.”
The 30-year-old Swiss has contributed with four goals and three assists in 15 appearances this term, starting every Premier League match for the table toppers.
And standing in the 94th percentile for shot-creating actions for midfielders in Europe’s top-five leagues this year, as well as boasting a passing accuracy of 86%, the figures certainly consolidate Robinson’s words.
There is a long way to go, but if Xhaka maintains this purple patch, he might prove the difference as Arsenal look to compete on multiple fronts.