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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal have a player in their ranks who 'gives something different' to the team

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Granit Xhaka for his efforts at left-back over the past few weeks, saying he “offers something different” to the Gunners.

The 28-year-old, a midfielder by trade, was deployed on the left of defence against Sheffield United a month ago after the Gunners found themselves short of cover due to Kieran Tierney’s injury.

Xhaka has gone on to make six appearances at left-back – against Fulham, Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League, and against Slavia Prague and Villarreal in the Europa League.

(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg at the Emirates, Arteta was asked by whether Xhaka’s run at left-back was to get him used to the role.

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“It’s been one of the reasons,” said Arteta. “As well because the way we wanted to play and the players around.

“We have managed to get some clean sheets as well since he’s been playing there, something that didn’t happen for 13 games. And he gives something different to the team.”

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Xhaka may split opinion amongst the Gunners fanbase but there’s no arguing he’s a hard-working, passionate and versatile player who has thoroughly impressed Arteta, a manager with very high standards.

That said, given how important the Villarreal game is, Arteta really should move Xhaka back up to midfield, where he’s most effective, and put Kieran Tierney – if fit – or Cedric Soares at left-back.

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