I asked whether Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka would experience a better campaign this time around in an article last month. The midfielder has already played a key part in the Gunners picking up points. He produced two assists in Arsenal’s 4-3 home win in their Premier League opener.
Essentially Xhaka is supposedly a defensive midfielder. However, as I have stated previously he is not just your typical central midfield destroyer. The former Monchengladbach star does also have a creative and skilful side to his game.
Close to matching his assist record from last season
Last season Xhaka produced just three assists from his defensive midfield position. It is not something you expect from the defensive midfield anchor man. He only needs one more assist to equal his record for last season.
The absence of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez meant that the Swiss star had a chance to take set pieces and he excelled by creating two goals. He has the ability and vision to create from a deep-lying midfield role, not just from set pieces.
Needs to improve
Xhaka was signed as the midfield steel that Arsenal needed. In truth, he still needs to improve if he is going to play as the team’s defensive midfielder. At 24, he still has time to become better in that role.
However, how he plays the game is dictated by who lines up alongside him in the centre of the park. If he lines up alongside a Francis Coquelin or Mohamed Elneny then he will have more of a licence to get forward and be creative.
If he lines up in central midfield with Aaron Ramsey or Santi Cazorla, when fit, then he has to play a more defensive role. I feel he probably performs better with a more defensive player alongside him. At times, he is exposed playing as the lone defensive midfielder.
Next up for Arsenal is a trip to Stoke in the Premier League next weekend, a game the Gunners are odds of 4/6 to win. Hopefully Xhaka can improve his defensive play against the Potters, while still helping his side in the creative side of the game.
I can see Granit Xhaka producing far better displays this season. He produced both good and bad moments against Leicester. However, the signs are there that he has immense to improve in both a defensive and attacking sense. In fact, Xhaka arguably has the potential to become the complete central midfield player in the future.
Can Granit Xhaka improve his performances this season?