As readers of this blog may know, I’m not a huge fan of Granit Xhaka. However, I believe in giving credit where it’s due, which leads me to comment in how much the Swiss has improved.
Against Leicester, Xhaka showed his versatility, by playing as a makeshift left back when Lichtsteiner went off. Not only that, Xhaka was pretty solid generally.
My only criticism of Xhaka concerns his free kicks. Although his dead balls have been better this season, I never expect him to trouble the keeper and he rarely does.
Nevertheless, Unai Emery is getting the best out of Xhaka and he’s beginning to look like an above average Premier League player. If he can improve further, Arsenal might have a place on their hands.
For now, Xhaka is very much a part of Emery’s ten-game winning streak and that’s why I wouldn’t drop him despite my reservations and the ridiculous social media backlash against him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team performed admirably against Leicester. Alex Iwobi was particularly impressive as, like Xhaka, he appears to be much fitter and more energised.
I felt sorry to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench, but when Arsenal’s winger-cum-striker came on, he changed the game with his quickly taken goals.
Mesut Ozil scores the opener for Arsenal, with a breathtaking side-foot finish, which showed us how the new Arsenal can cut teams to ribbons. No one can defend against that.
Matteo Guendouzi also impressed as a substitute and even the bavkline looked mostly solid.
The only poor performances were Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who I forgot was on the pitch at times and, to a lesser extent, Alexandre Lacazette. The striker didn’t really look like scoring and didn’t contribute as much as usual.
Defensively is where most problems lie. Marking is still a problem at set pieces, so Emery needs to address this before these mistakes become costly.
Meanwhile, Gunners fans can count their blessings that they have a manager who believes in hard work, tactics and adjusting to the opposition. It’s such a far cry from Arsene Wenger that people are purring in the seats, while the Emery juggernaut rolls on.