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‘Good start’: Sky pundit now says Arteta has made change that has massively improved Arsenal player’s game
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

‘Good start’: Sky pundit now says Arteta has made change that has massively improved Arsenal player’s game

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has had to make a lot of big decisions going into this season.

The Spanish manager had to decide which players would stay at the club and who needed to be moved on.

Speaking on Sky Sports (18/9 11:45am) ahead of the game, Jamie Redknapp spoke about one player who Arsenal were weighing up selling.

The future of midfielder Granit Xhaka was up in the air, but the Swiss international did enough to convince Arteta to keep him.

Redknapp believes Xhaka is better in the new role Arteta is playing him in this season, and that’s benefited both him and Arsenal.

Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images

“The amount of times I’ve watched Granit Xhaka lose the ball in his own half when they’re trying to play out when he plays in a pivot, and get caught on it, and concede a goal.” Redknapp said.

“I think they’ve said, ‘listen, let’s get him further up the pitch, get him as far away from his own goal as possible’ where he can affect the game in their box.

“And I think that suits him more because he’s got that pace in that area to get away from people.

“Teams were pressing him higher, and he would find himself conceding the ball too often.

“But this year, he’s had a really good start to the season.

“I think that the fact the manager’s got him playing higher and getting more touches in the box, effecting the game more is important.”

Xhaka playing better in new role

The 29-year-old Xhaka was signed from Borussia Monchengladbach back in 2016.

He’s spent most of that time playing in a holding midfield role, occasionally filling in at left-back.

However, Arteta has shifted Xhaka into more of a box-to-box role, allowing Thomas Partey to sit in front of the defence.

Xhaka is certainly playing better in his position, linking up well in midfield with new captain Martin Odegaard.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

He’s already got a goal and three assists to his name in the league this season, and is thriving with less defensive responsibilities.

He produced a sumptuous assist for Gabriel Jesus against Brentford, with the Brazilian hailing his left foot.

The stats back this up, with Xhaka making 1.5 tackles per 90 mins last season, compared to 0.7 this season (via FBRef).

However, his shot creating actions have increased this season, and he’s also shooting more and from better positions.

Xhaka and Arsenal are certainly benefitting from Arteta’s tactical decision as they chance a return to the Champions League.

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