Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was quietly going about his business in Mikel Arteta’s engine room before a halt to the 2019/20 campaign and in the process, he was proving former hero Paul Merson right.
Back in October Xhaka had a public spat with Arsenal supporters after being substituted during a game against Crystal Palace.
Many pundits and experts said that Xhaka was finished saying that such an attitude from the captain wouldn’t be tolerated.
Not Merson though. He told Sky Sports that he wasn’t happy with Xhaka’s action but didn’t foresee a situation where he would be frozen out completely.
He said: “I’m one of his biggest critics but he does care. I’ve seen some people come off pitches and they don’t care, they fly off and run faster off the pitch than they did during the game.
“It’s a hard one for the club because Unai Emery rates him, he’s the one player who plays every week so I would have thought Emery will want this to blow over really. I don’t think it will be an Ozil situation where he says ‘that’s it, you’re not playing for this club again’.”
Since Arteta arrived at Arsenal, Xhaka has been in brilliant form for the Gunners.
The 27-year-old has featured in all but one of Arteta’s squads and his working his way back to his best form.
Xhaka clearly felt the strain of wearing the armband during a poor time of things for the club.
With that no longer a burden he has been able to simply concentrate on becoming the player that Arsenal parted with £35 million to sign in 2016 (BBC).
Xhaka is proving his critics wrong and proving Merson right to say he wouldn’t be deemed surplus by the Gunners.