Mikel Arteta has praised Granit Xhaka’s ‘phenomenal’ reaction to his red card against Burnley and has hailed the midfielder’s performances since returning to the side.
Xhaka received fierce criticism after being dismissed during the Gunners’ disappointing 1-0 defeat to Burnley last month, with the incident – in which he grabbed Ashley Westwood round the throat with the game goalless – one of several which have seen the midfielder’s temperament questioned during his Arsenal career.
The Switzerland international’s career with the club looked all but over after being stripped of the captaincy following an angry reaction to his own supporters during a draw with Crystal Palace last season, only for the 28-year-old to force his way back into the side and play a prominent role in the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph.
After finding himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons once more, Xhaka has again come back to prominence in recent weeks, producing a series of impressive performances as Arsenal have sparked a mini-revival with a five-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Xhaka’s return to the side from suspension coincided with the upturn in results and Arteta has praised the midfielder’s ‘phenomenal’ reaction to the criticism he received following his dismissal against the Clarets.
“After the red card and with the history that he had, he was in a difficult place and we had to try and bring him back where we believe he can be and where he should be – which is being one of the leaders of the team and giving us stability and the presence he can provide to the team and to the club,” Arteta said.
“I think since he’s been back he’s been phenomenal; he’s playing really, really well. Against Palace, he had some really important moments and he’s still young. He’s still a player who can evolve. It’s great for us to have him back.”