Granit Xhaka has started the season in a more advanced midfield role than what’s previously played at Arsenal. The Swiss midfielder very much used to be a sitter in the Arsenal engine room, but he is now playing as more of a box-to-box number eight for Mikel Arteta’s side.
In Arsenal’s game at Brentford, Thomas Partey returned to the side, with the Ghanaian slotting straight in front of the back four, with Xhaka and full Premier League debutant Fabio Vieira further forward. The role change seems to have benefitted Xhaka, who has started the new campaign in impressive form for the Gunners.
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes moving Xhaka higher up the pitch hides what was a weakness when he was playing in a deeper position. Xhaka was guilty of losing the ball in dangerous areas when he played as a defensive midfielder, and Redknapp believes his mistakes are now likely to have less severe consequences now he’s moved position.
“The amount of times I’ve watched Granit Xhaka lose the ball in his half trying to play out from the back, getting the ball on the pivot and they’ve conceded a goal,” Redknapp said on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday.
“I think they’ve said ‘listen, lets get him further up the pitch, get him as high away from his own goal as possible’ where he can effect the game in the box, because he’s not got that pace in that area to get away from people. Teams would press him high up and he would find himself conceding the ball too often.”