Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka says the way manager Mikel Arteta sees the game is unbelievable, according to football.london.
The Switzerland international has been one of Arsenal’s most important and improved players under the Spaniard. There was a lot of fanfare when he joined the club from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 but he struggled to impose himself on the Premier League and while he was a mainstay in the Arsenal side under Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg, it was only under Arteta that the player began to blossom.
He has been the constant in a midfield pivot that has helped Arsenal win the midfield battle and impose themselves on their opponents. He has been paired with the likes of Dani Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny and more recently, Thomas Partey. The Swiss midfielder has always done the job and is clearly one of the leaders of this Arsenal team.
Xhaka’s Arsenal career has been full of ups and downs and he came close to leaving the club last season after clashing with the fans. He was stripped of the captaincy in the aftermath of this incident. Arteta was appointed Arsenal head coach in December 2019 and convinced the Switzerland international to stay at the club.
It is evident that the two have a good relationship and this coupled with Arteta’s view of the game seem to have helped Xhaka thrive for the Gunners.
On how Arteta has helped him find his best form, he said:
“It’s difficult to say if this is my best season or if I’m in a good shape. The only thing I feel is that I have a lot of confidence in the coach, I’m in a very good shape physically but as well mentally. This is key for my game, for me everything has to be clear for what we have to do on the pitch. The coach is helping me a lot. Everyone knows he is one of the reasons why I’m still at this club. I have a very good relationship with him and he’s helping me day by day, on the pitch, outside the pitch and I’m very thankful for him because if you have one coach who gives you the confidence and freedom it’s more easy for the player.”
On what advice Arteta has given him, he said:
“He was a midfielder so he knows the position exactly. This is very important for me because he showed me on the pitch where I have to have my body position without the ball, with the ball, where I have to stay, how I can improve my game as well the game from the team. Everything is clear what I have to do on the pitch, to help the team. From the outside some of the people speak and say this is good or it’s not good. In the end for me the most important thing for me is the team and the coach and the staff are happy with me. And of course myself, at the moment I feel very important with the team and I’m in a good way at the moment.”
On how much it has helped to have a manager that truly believes in him, Xhaka said:
“Of course if someone believes in you everything is a lot easier. It’s my work. It’s not a surprise I’m playing under every coach. Maybe you can play under one or two coaches, but not four, five, six coaches like I have already in my career. That means I’m doing something good. I think I’m a team player, I don’t look a lot at myself, I’m not selfish. I try to help the team, I try to help the staff to be an example for the young guys we have in our dressing room. Only with hard work can you achieve something. I’m doing day by day hard work my best in training as well on the pitch. Of course the next question is if everything is going well in the game it can happen yes but the confidence the coach give me is key for a player.”
On whether it would be a fair assessment that his role is more focussed now, he said:
“Yes everything has a particular reason. Mikel is unbelievable how he sees the game. The key for one player is to understand the philosophy of how the coach wants to play. I think I understood his game very quick. He put me in a position where I have freedom and the game in front of me. This is what I like. I don’t like to play with my back to the opponent’s goal. It’s as well something very positive from the coach. You can see that very quick in me. I’m trying to give him the confidence back that he gave in me.”
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