Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has singled Granit Xhaka out for praise following his stint at left-back at the weekend.
The 28-year-old, a midfielder by trade, was deployed on the left of defence against Sheffield United after the Gunners found themselves short of cover due to Kieran Tierney’s injury.
Xhaka put in a good performance against the Blades, looking composed on the ball and combining well with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli on a number of occasions.
Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Slavia Prague for their Europa League quarter-final second leg, Arteta was asked by the Gunners media team whether Xhaka’s stint at left-back was a one-off.
“We looked at our options in relation to the opponent and the formation that we wanted to use to fit the qualities of the players that we had available,” he replied.
“Obviously not having Kieran, it was a big hit because of what he produces and how important he is on the team. Now we have to find different ways and the good thing with Granit is that he can play in two or three different positions.
“I can see him still playing as a centre-back when it’s needed because of his discipline, his commitment and his qualities and he did a good job in a different game, for the way Sheffield were set up. We’ll decide tomorrow.”
Xhaka is a player who continues to divide opinion amongst the Arsenal fanbase, but there’s no denying he has a big role to play in Arteta’s squad.
Aside from being a good midfield enforcer, the Switzerland captain is also a versatile, passionate and committed player with leadership skills.
Recent speculation has linked Xhaka with a return to Germany, but Arteta surely won’t be keen on seeing him leave.