Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka believes he is in the best form of his Gunners career and he attributes that improvement to the arrival of “freak” Unai Emery.
Xhaka joined Arsenal in 2016 in a deal which could reportedly reach £40million having enjoyed four years in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach.
But in his first two seasons in the Premier League, Xhaka struggled to convince fans, often looking awkward and overly aggressive in a defensive midfield role.
He toiled in defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of this season, but Xhaka has steadily improved since, particularly when played alongside the more naturally defensive-minded Lucas Torreira.
And Xhaka is putting his elevated performances down to Emery, who succeeded Arsene Wenger ahead of 2018-19.
“It’s definitely my best season so far,” he told Aargauer Zeitung. “Without doubt, I think I’ve taken another step forward.
Granit Xhaka in #ARSLIV…
▪️ More passes than anyone else on the pitch
▪️ More recoveries than anyone else on the pitch
▪️ More tackles than anyone else on the pitch
Pretty impressive stats, Granit pic.twitter.com/9KiWKICSni
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 3, 2018
“It’s the best I’ve felt at Arsenal since I came to the club and the coach has had an enormous influence.
“He prepares us all and we have a plan. We know how to do it with the ball and without the ball. We know how and when to stand where.
“Emery is like Lucien Favre [whom Xhaka played for at Gladbach], a freak who pushes us back and forth, 10 times, until everyone understands.
“I never had contact with him [Emery] until after the World Cup. When I got back to training, the first thing he told me was: ‘Granit, you’re one of my five captains.’
“I’m at one of the top 10 clubs in the world, so that makes you proud and gives you confidence.
“It was a great sign of the club to extend my contract until 2023. For me that’s a huge sign of appreciation. I knew then I was very important to the club.”
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