Mikel Arteta has lauded Granit Xhaka after watching the Arsenal midfielder impress at left-back on Sunday as the Gunners beat Sheffield United 3-0 at Bramall Lane – in comments reported by Football London.
Xhaka was the latest player tasked with trying to fill the shoes of Kieran Tierney at the weekend.
It proved to be a good evening for Arteta’s men. A brace from Alexandre Lacazette separated by a goal from Gabriel Martinelli gave Arsenal the three points.
And Xhaka seemed to produce an impressive showing. As shown by Whoscored, no player came close to matching his tally of 74 accurate passes.
He also made three clearances, but it was not a day in which Arsenal needed to be at their best defensively.
Nevertheless, Arteta felt compelled to pay tribute to the 28-year-old following his performance.
“He had a specific role today for the game because we believed they were going to try to do something,” he said, as reported by Football London. “He had the right qualities to develop that role – he did that really good.
“It’s a joy to work with him because you ask him to play as a centre forward and his first reaction is ‘yeah, yeah I’ll do my best’. I think today he had a really strong performance.”
TBR View: Arteta trusts Xhaka more than most
Xhaka has arguably been one of the most reliable performers of Arteta’s tenure. Admittedly, there have still been some errors and moments that have caused fans to lose their cool with the midfielder.
But he is clearly a player that Arteta feels he can count on – no matter what task is asked of him.
And it would be no surprise if Sunday was not the last time Xhaka was asked to play in a much more unfamiliar role by the Arsenal boss.