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'It’s a joy': Arteta says he absolutely loves working with Arsenal star who had a 'specific role' last night

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Granit Xhaka after the Swiss international’s performance out of position against Sheffield United last night.

The Gunners went into the game without Kieran Tierney. The former Celtic man suffered a knee injury against Liverpool in the first game after the international break, and it sadly looks like his season is over.

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Every Arsenal fan expected to see Cedric Soares start at left-back last night but the Portuguese international was left on the bench. Seeing the team sheet, fans thought Bukayo Saka would play in Tierney’s role, but that didn’t happen either.

Arteta surprised everyone and used Granit Xhaka there. The Swiss international doesn’t quite have the pace of Tierney or Cedric to bomb up and down the pitch, but he had a tremendous game nevertheless.

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Arteta: It’s a joy to work with Xhaka

The Arsenal boss was asked about Xhaka playing out of position last night and Arteta claimed that it was a joy to work with him. He claimed that the Swiss international would even agree to play up front if the situation demanded, which shows just how good a professional he is.

Arteta said, as per Arsenal.com: “Well, he had a specific role today for the game because we believed that we were going to do something and he had the right qualities to develop that role.

“It’s a joy to work with him because if you ask him to play as a centre forward, his first reaction is ‘Yeah, yeah, I can do it and I will do my best’.

“So that’s the players that you want and I think today he had a really strong performance, and he gives another option. Kieran is out probably for the season, so we need options in this position and he can be one of those.”

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The Insider’s View:

Whatever you think of Xhaka, you can’t fault his professionalism. He is ready to play wherever the manager wants him to play and he always gives his absolute best on the pitch – something that many fans choose to ignore.

Our performance against Liverpool showed just how poor we are without Xhaka pulling the strings.

He may not be perfect but he is a model professional who always gives his 100 per cent. He deserves more credit than he gets from fans, pundits and the media, but the good thing is that Arteta knows how good he is, and Xhaka will always have his boss’ backing.

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