Premier League

Xhaka hopes to help Arsenal secure crucial win against Crystal Palace in their title chase

Xhaka hopes to help Arsenal secure crucial win against Crystal Palace in their title chase

Granit Xhaka experienced a verbal attack from Arsenal fans, which he responded to with foul language. This incident occurred after he was left out of the team and he found it very upsetting. Looking back, this occurred during a match against Crystal Palace towards the end of Unai Emery’s time as Arsenal manager.

This season, Arsenal has made significant progress, particularly Granit Xhaka, and the upcoming game against Crystal Palace can serve as a reminder of his growth under Mikel Arteta.

In 2019, Xhaka’s relationship with Arsenal fans appeared to be irreparable following an altercation, leading to him being stripped of the captaincy under Unai Emery. However, he has since won back the trust of the fans and has become an essential senior player in the team’s push for the Premier League title. Xhaka’s journey over the last three and a half years has been impressive and is frequently highlighted as he continues to thrive with the club.

 In Unai Emery’s first season, Arsenal narrowly missed out on a top-four finish and made it to the final of the Europa League, raising expectations for the following season. The Gunners started the second season with two consecutive wins, but by the time they faced Crystal Palace, they had slipped to fifth place in the standings, having lost to newly-promoted Sheffield United in their previous game.

Despite a promising start that saw Arsenal take a 2-0 lead with the help of defenders Sokratis and David Luiz, they allowed Palace back into the game, conceding a penalty that led to a goal from Luka Milivojevic, and a second-half goal from Jordan Ayew that ultimately resulted in a draw. This was the second time in six weeks that Arsenal had squandered a two-goal lead, with Watford being the other team to mount a comeback.

However, the main story from the match was Granit Xhaka’s reaction to being substituted, which garnered much attention.

Granit Xhaka responded to the boos from Arsenal fans as he was substituted by cupping his hand to his ear.

 He also exchanged words with some of the home supporters, which included at least one expletive. This incident ensured that Unai Emery, the manager at the time, would have to address questions about Xhaka’s behavior after the game.

“He’s wrong but we are going to speak inside about that situation,” Emery said. “I want to be calm but, really, he was wrong in this action.”

“We are working with every player about how to deal with the pressure. The reaction was wrong and we will discuss it with him.

“I have had similar situations. When supporters are criticising us we need to stand up and stay calm. They are the reason for our work. We need to stay calm when they are applauding and when they are criticising us.”

Unai Emery provided further insight into Granit Xhaka’s emotional state following the incident, describing him as “devastated and sad” during a press conference on the Tuesday after the game.

 Emery had spoken to Xhaka on Sunday night and on Monday, and although he trained with the team on Tuesday, he was deeply affected by the situation and knew that he was in the wrong. Emery acknowledged that Xhaka needed the support of the fans and that he was feeling the weight of their disappointment.

Despite Xhaka’s apparent remorse, he was excluded from the team for three consecutive matches and subsequently stripped of the captaincy. Emery explained that he had informed Xhaka and the other team captains of the decision, and that it was now closed.

After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced Xhaka as Arsenal captain, it seemed unlikely that Xhaka would outlast the Gabonese striker at the club. However, as Aubameyang’s fortunes dwindled and he left the club amid a disagreement with Mikel Arteta, Xhaka remained and became one of Arsenal’s longest-serving players.

At the time, West Ham captain Mark Noble expressed sympathy for Xhaka, but suggested that it might be time for him to consider a move to a new club. Xhaka himself later revealed that he had come close to leaving Arsenal, but a change of manager made him reconsider.

Unai Emery was sacked after a few more weeks, with Arsenal dropping to eighth in the table. Mikel Arteta was appointed as his permanent successor after a brief stint with Freddie Ljungberg as caretaker, and Xhaka was persuaded to stay.

“When Mikel [Arteta] was appointed in December, I told him that I wanted to leave,” Xhaka told The Players’ Tribune in 2022. “He understood completely. We had a second chat a few days later, and when I went in, I had talked it through with my wife. Our suitcases were literally placed by the door.

“When I have made a decision like that, it is very difficult to change my mind. But then Mikel began to talk about how I was a big part of his plans. I liked his warmth. He was honest, straight. Clear plans. I felt I could trust him. He told me to give him six months to prove me wrong, and then if I still wanted to leave, no problem.

“Normally I spend a lot of time making these decisions. I talk to everyone around me, I weigh up the pros and cons. But that day I broke my own rules. I told Mikel, ‘O.K.’”

Since then, he has barely looked back. After sitting out three straight league games in the light of that Palace incident, he has never missed more than two in a row under Arteta.

Xhaka’s importance to Arsenal was evident when he was considered as a potential captain after Aubameyang’s departure. Despite not having the armband, he has still shown his ability to have an impact on the team. At 30 years old, he has started almost all of Arsenal’s league games this season and came off the bench in the other two. He even played a crucial role in a late win against Bournemouth. 

This season, Xhaka has taken on a more advanced role, which has helped Arsenal go from being Champions League contenders to title challengers. Arteta also played a part in this transformation by having conversations with Xhaka over the summer and encouraging him to make necessary changes.

 Arteta explained that he needed to unlock something in Xhaka’s brain and remind him of what is required to win games.

“He took it straight away. He’s a very intelligent player, he came to pre-season fitter than ever, slimmer than ever, and he knew that if we wanted to take the team to a different level we had to change his role. He knew that was coming.

“We believed he has those qualities, those qualities were there to be exploited and they were hiding. The team needed those qualities very much.”

Xhaka made a comeback to Arsenal’s starting lineup in their game against Fulham last weekend and contributed to their dominant 3-0 victory. He then went on to score his fourth goal of the season in their match against another team, but unfortunately, Arsenal lost in a penalty shootout, resulting in their exit from the Europa League.

 Despite the ups and downs of the season, Xhaka would surely relish a good performance in the upcoming game against Crystal Palace, especially since Arsenal has drawn both of their home games against them since their infamous clash in 2019. Securing three points in this game would be crucial for Arsenal’s title hopes.

Xhaka hopes to help Arsenal secure crucial win against Crystal Palace in their title chase

The post Xhaka hopes to help Arsenal secure crucial win against Crystal Palace in their title chase appeared first on SPYLAX FOOTBALL.


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