To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders
Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has spoken on his desire for Granit Xhaka to have a larger impact in and around the oppositions box this season, after he scored his first goal of the season in the Gunners 4-2 win over Leicester.
This was on display throughout Arsenal’s successful preseason and he has become impactful more to begin the season.
Xhaka opened his Arsenal account for the season on Saturday, as he scored a highly significant goal to make it 3-1, shortly after Arsenal conceded.
He also set up the first goal of the game, with a short pass in the area to Gabriel Jesus, who set the Emirates alight with a calm-headed chipped finish over the keeper and into the far corner.
Granit Xhaka on Instagram: “A happy Saturday is when you’re up and running at Emirates Stadium this season with a goal 🥳 UNBELIEVABLE performance from you today bro @gabrieljesus9 🔥” [IG: granitxhaka] #afc pic.twitter.com/iqZpHRq1Xe— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 13, 2022
Arteta spoke after the game on the efforts to get Xhaka more involved, saying:
“We want [Granit] to arrive in the box and create those moments.
"He has done it in his career, and I’m a big believer that he can do it and he now has this moment to do it.”
The boss also showed his appreciation for how he played in the Leicester game, despite missing an early header from close range, explaining:
“He should have scored another with that header in the first half, but I’m really pleased with him.”
Last season, the Swiss midfielder played 27 times for the Gunners, but netted just one goal, which he has already equalled in 25 less games.
However, the most notable stat to look at is Xhaka’s xG (expected goals).
In all league matches last season, his combined xG was a total of 1.11, very minimal for a midfielder.
With the changes Arteta has made to his role this year, Granit’s xG is already at 0.62, and will rise to a much larger amount if he continues to play the way he has been.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Xhaka in his Arsenal career, being stripped of captaincy just a few years ago.
He was looking very likely to be shipped out of the door before last season.
However, Xhaka and Arteta may have found the perfect role for the midfielder this season.
The club will be hoping for many more goal contributions this year, as Arsenal chase a top four spot.