Granit Xhaka: A familiar case of too close, but no cigar

Arsenal made a huge statement of intent when they secured the signature of Granit Xhaka in May; even before the dust of the 2015/16 campaign had settled.

At £34 million, the Swiss international became the club’s most expensive signing behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

The 24-year old made a dream start to his career at the Emirates, scoring spectacular long range drives against Hull City in the Premier League and Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup.

Moreover, his swiftness on the ball and impeccable passing against Watford had fans whetting their appetite for more, with many even drawing comparisons with club legend Emmanuel Petit.


Not lived up to the billing

Although he has registered three goals thus far into the season, the midfielder hasn’t quite lived up to the billing.

In fact, it seems unimaginable that a player worth that much quid has starter fewer than half of Arsenal’s games at this point of the season.

Arsene Wenger has over the course of the season tested numerous midfield combinations, with the partnership between Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin coming on top.

Nonetheless, the gaffer has of late paired Coquelin with Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny following Cazorla’s spell on the sidelines due to an Achilles injury.


Where does the Swiss international feature in Wenger’s plans?

Now that begs the question as to where Xhaka’s place is in the boss’s plans.

His most recent midweek substitute performance against PSG in the Champions League was far from inspiring, yet this isn’t the first time the midfielder has failed to make an impact from the bench.

Explaining [the reason] as to why the former Monchengladbach midfielder has been struggling to keep his form, Wenger argued that the Swiss has yet to fully adapt to the demands of the English game- while remaining modest that his time will come.

If you ask me, Wenger hasn’t gotten over the sending off of Xhaka against Swansea.

Although the Gunners still won 3-2, it was an encryption of how volatile his temperament can prove costly especially against stronger oppositions in the league and Europe.


In Xhaka’s defence

Xhaka isn’t exactly the most disciplined, as his red card against the Swans took his total tally to eight over the last two years.

In his defense however [on his form and not the red cards- having that many sending offs is bonkers], even Thierry Henry needed time to adjust to the intensity of the Premier League, and so should Xhaka.


Written by Brian Humphrey

Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum

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