Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was spotted giving his teammates a motivational speech as they warmed up for the north London derby against Tottenham, helping to encourage his side to a 2-0 win. The Swiss star has undergone a sensational transformation on the club over the past 18 months, going from something of a liability to turn out to be an actual leader within the centre of the park.
Xhaka’s Arsenal profession had been somewhat stop-start until Mikel Arteta’s arrival on the club. The 30-year-old had sporadically shown the extent he was able to but repeatedly let himself down through his poor disciplinary record, picking up five red cards within the space of 5 years.
He was also vulnerable to letting his emotions get the higher of him, something that was summed up best by his response to getting subbed in a game against Crystal Palace in 2019. He was booed as he trudged off the pitch, reacting angrily by mouthing f*** off on the stands while making several sarcastic gestures before removing his shirt and heading straight down the tunnel.
The incident meant he was stripped of the club captaincy despite being within the role for just over a month. It also looked like a near certainty he would go away the club in the subsequent transfer window. Nonetheless, Unai Emery was sacked before January arrived with Arteta helping rehabilitate him to turn out to be a vital member of the squad.
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His remarkable rebirth was summed up ahead of the Gunners’ match with fierce rivals Tottenham this weekend. The Switzerland international was seen attempting to encourage his team mates as they went through their warm-up ahead of the match.
Xhaka is now the vice-captain on the club, something which didn’t look possible just three years ago. He’s a robust voice on the sphere helping to support the work of skipper Martin Odegaard.
The midfielder can be one in all the primary to go and defend his team mates in the event that they are in trouble, something which may sometimes work to his detriment. This attitude was in play after the victory over Spurs with Arteta forced to drag his player away as he tried to return and remonstrate with the fan who had kicked Aaron Ramsdale within the back.
Xhaka’s transformation throughout the Arsenal side has been sensational and it is evident that supporters, teammates and his manager are filled with respect for the work he does.