Granit Xhaka shining in revised role within Arsenal’s new system

Granit Xhaka shining in revised role within Arsenal's new system
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It may have been Alexis Sanchez who scored the crucial goals in Arsenal’s win over Sunderland, but it was Granit Xhaka who broke open the game with a moment of brilliance.

It was his arced ball over the top that found Mesut Ozil in space, enabling the German to square for Alexis to tap home and open the scoring.

The Sunderland match was the latest in a series of eye-catching displays from Xhaka, who is finally proving his worth in an Arsenal shirt.

For much of the season, Xhaka has been criticised for failing to live up to his £35 million price tag. Arsenal fans had high hopes for the former Borussia Monchengladbach skipper — and Arsene Wenger clearly believed in him too when he allowed another left-footed central midfielder, Jack Wilshere, to leave the club on loan.

However, it did not prove to be an easy adaptation for Xhaka. Although he had the physicality required to flourish in the English game, it came paired with an aggression that has been difficult to tame.

He also struggled to settle in an Arsenal midfield destabilised by the loss of Santi Cazorla to injury.

His talent would occasionally flicker into life, but for the most part he looked an awkward fit for Arsenal and the Premier League.

Criticism of Xhaka across the course of the campaign has been somewhat over the top. He’s partly a victim of being misunderstood — even by his own manager.

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