Wright U-turns on Arsenal star Xhaka who once ‘nearly made him cry’
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Arsenal icon Ian Wright has backtracked on Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka after previously admitting that the midfielder’s playing style nearly made him ‘burst into tears’. Xhaka has rekindled his Gunners career and is now a firm fans’ favourite.
The 29-year-old has enjoyed an excellent start to the season. Forming a fruitful midfield partnership with Thomas Partey, Xhaka is allowed to roam slightly further up the pitch.
A wonderful cross for Gabriel Jesus allowed the Brazilian to put Arsenal 2-0 ahead during Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Brentford. Former striker Wright has heaped praise on Xhaka, claiming fans are now seeing the best of the former Borussia Monchengladbach star.
“For me, Granit Xhaka is a player that we’re finally see play like he does for Switzerland. He’s playing in a position that suits him, playing more offensively. He’s playing with real authority and confidence,” Wright said on Match of the Day.
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“Lately he’s been able to find space and from there he can be really dangerous because, for me, he’s got easily one of the best left-foots in the Premier League. It’s a great cross for the Jesus goal, it’s fantastic. He can also do the defensive stuff, he gets back and get his foot in there.
“He set the tempo for Arsenal off the ball. I’m really pleased for him because I was one of his staunchest critics. But now we’re seeing the best of Granit Xhaka.”
It is quite the comeback for Xhaka, who was only recently Arsenal’s lightning rod for criticism. Only a year ago, the Switzerland international’s contract extension was met by derision from supporters.
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In December 2020, Wright revealed that a stat involving Xhaka and defender Gabriel Magalhaes that summed up Arsenal’s ‘negative’ playing style nearly made him ‘burst into tears’.
Wright said on the Kelly and Wrighty Show: “I think Xhaka at the moment has kind of reverted to type, it’s very negative, this is why we’re getting this stat of 58 passes per shot. We’re passing [too much].
“You’ve got midfielders who are not willing to take the chance of putting it in there, and they want to get these stats where they’re passing it sideways and they’ve got 99 per-cent pass accuracy, passing it five yards to the side.
“If you’re not taking chances, you’re not going to create anything. I think one of the stats the other day was the most interaction between two Arsenal players was Xhaka back to Gabriel – it nearly made me burst into tears!”
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