‘If you’re there, you should be there as long as possible’: Granit Xhaka calls on Arsenal to maintain top spot in the Premier League for the World Cup, insisting that ‘that should be the goal’ after a strong start to the season
- Arsenal top the Premier League after the first ten games of the season
- Mikel Arteta’s side has impressed by taking 27 points out of a possible 30 . so far
- But Granit Xhaka has urged the Gunners to keep their grip on the top spot
- Xhaka says they ‘should be the intention’ for them to do this before the World Cup break
Granit Xhaka has challenged Arsenal to remain at the top of the Premier League until the World Cup, telling his team-mates: “That should be the goal.”
Mikel Arteta’s team is four points ahead of Manchester City after ten games.
They have won eight consecutive games in all competitions and this season they have the highest win rate of any team in Europe’s five major leagues (93 percent).
Xhaka has been instrumental in Arsenal’s rise to the Premier League top, saying: ‘When you’re there, you have to be there as long as possible.
Granit Xhaka has challenged Arsenal to remain top of the Premier League until the World Cup
“If we get the chance to stay where we are now and the World Cup comes, it might be a good break for everyone, maybe for us too, to prepare something different for January.”
Due to Thursday’s Europa League win over PSV Eindhoven, Arsenal did not drop a single to the point at the Emirates this season.
“At home we have always been good, but maybe now we are much stronger, much more compact, we have many more solutions,” said the midfielder. “Since Mikel came we have many more solutions, maybe plans B and C too.”
The Swiss international has been reborn under Arteta in recent months, and he wrote another chapter of his redemption story against PSV, when his goal secured qualification for the knockout stages of the Europa League. Xhaka was then asked if he is playing the best football of his career.
Mikel Arteta’s team is four points ahead of the top of the rankings after a strong start to the season
Xhaka is a reborn man under Arteta and was an important part of their success early in this period
‘It’s a tough question, I don’t want to bring myself down! I’ve done a good job of being here where I am now, but it’s a different time, let’s just say. I’m much more experienced, much more…not smart because I don’t want to call myself stupid before, but with the games, with the age, with everything else around you, you become a different player, a different person. I’m so happy that everything is going as I’ve always dreamed.’
The 30-year-old has started all but one of his games this season and is one of Arteta’s key players who have no rest.
The Swiss international has urged his teammates to hold onto the top spot
“I’m not worried about this because the staff, the coach, they know how I am physically, how I take care of myself. It’s not the first time,” he says. “Of course every time you win it makes it a little bit easier, but I’m not worried about the minutes, or the World Cup, or the future.”
The blows are beginning to take their toll elsewhere, but Xhaka insists he won’t let his performance be affected by fear of injury.
“I will never think like that when I go out on the field. This is football, it can happen in one second,” he said. “You have to put your foot in it when it’s a 50/50 ball. And I, my personality, the people who know me, I can never get around that.’
On how he continues to play so many matches, the midfielder added: ‘It’s a secret! No, I’m kidding… I’m 30 years old, I definitely know my body better than before. When you’re young, you’re different, you think differently. When you’re 30, you know your body, you know exactly what you need more of and what you don’t. Of course you have your private people around you who help you with everything, with the food, with the recovery.’
Arsenal hope to continue their winning run in Southampton on Sunday.