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Granit Xhaka: Unexpected answer to Arsenal’s left-back crisis

Granit Xhaka

Arsenal have looked a different team over the past few days, as they comprehensively got past the likes of Sheffield United and Slavia Prague. There were many talking points from these games and one of them was Granit Xhaka.

The North London club cruised to a 3-0 victory against Sheffield and then followed that up with a 4-0 win against Slavia to reach the Europa League semifinals. Xhaka who played in an unfamiliar position at left back was one of the most impressive performers in both the games.

The Swiss international played there before and has performed admirably but this was just the second time under the current manager. What made this selection surprising was that the Gunners had other options they could have gone with. There was Cedric who can also play on the left and there was also the option of using Bukayo Saka in a defensive role.

While we are accustomed to see Xhaka partnering Thomas Partey in central midfield, Arteta took the risk of starting him at left-back against Sheffield and that decision paid off. The 28-year-old joined in with the attack on occasion which helped the visitors dominate the game as they had an extra man in the middle of the pitch.

With this move paying off, it is possible that Mikel Arteta has an answer to his left-back problem. While Cedric is a dependable performer, playing him on the wrong side might hinder his performances. It slows down the attack and that is not what the boss would want to see.

Saka was a revelation in this position last season, but the youngster is so talented that it is better off playing him further up the pitch. And based on what Arteta had to tell BT Sport(via Daily Star) after the Sheffield game, he likes what he sees from the Swiss:

“It’s the first time Granit Xhaka has started at left-back, it’s a possibility for him. He has the qualities that I like to play there.”

Arsenal have a Europa League semi-final to look forward to and they will be confident going into the game after a morale-boosting win. With Xhaka slotting in at left-back, the team looks more cohesive and solid which gives them a better chance of winning.

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