Mikel Arteta believes that Granit Xhaka will receive a warm welcome when Arsenal fans return to stadiums
‘Hopefully he can enjoy it when the fans are back’: Mikel Arteta believes Granit Xhaka will receive a warm welcome when Arsenal supporters return to the Emirates … after she was booed before and taken away from the captain
- Granit Xhaka was fired from the captain by previous manager Unai Emery
- It followed Xhaka’s reaction when he was booed by his own fans last October
- But the Swiss midfielder is now a fixture in the starting XI under Mikel Arteta
- The Arsenal boss believes Xhaka will be applauded when fans eventually return
Mikel Arteta hopes Granit Xhaka will experience redemption when he feels the warm embrace of a packed Arsenal stadium next season.
Many fans and experts believed the Swiss international midfielder would never play for Arsenal again after being robbed of the captain by then-manager Unai Emery last November.
Xhaka was jeered off the field as he trudged away in hiding against Crystal Palace, exacerbated the situation by cupping his ear, removing his shirt, and seeming to scold supporters.
Granit Xhaka has worked his way back to the starting XI at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta
The Swiss midfielder seemed to have lost fans’ respect after the October incident
The incident led to a prolonged first-team spread for a player who had already divided opinion since his £ 35 million arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016.
But Emery’s replacement, Arteta, recognized an above-average player with a will to succeed and spent many hours persuading the 27-year-old back to full physical and mental health.
His form under the Spaniard, especially since the restart of football, means that he is now the first name on the team sheet for both manager and supporters when it comes to midfield selection.
Arteta acknowledges that relations between Xhaka and supporters had thawed before the lockdown, but predicts the best for some so far.
Arteta has used Xhaka regularly since his arrival at the club, especially since the restart
He explained, “For a footballer when you are on the field and you feel you support the fans and you feel their love, it gives you a tremendous amount of energy and drive. Hopefully he can enjoy that when the fans are back in our stadium. ‘
It could be argued that playing behind closed doors has been a bonus to players like Xhaka, the occasional lightning rod for ‘boo-boys’ in football.
That’s one for the man himself, and Arteta stated, “People know better than I do what happened and how much it affected all parties when that problem arose. When I got here I had a very high opinion of him and I knew him very well.
“I had to convince him that he had a future, that he had a place here and that he could enjoy his career and that his family could be happy here.
Arteta says he had to convince Xhaka that he had a future here after the early season turmoil
“He’s a player who goes 100 percent when he bets. He has worked very hard and has regained everyone’s confidence.
“I think he’s starting to enjoy it again, and normally when you have those two aspects together – that’s when players perform at the highest level.”
Xhaka naturally closes the Premier League season in an empty stadium, against a Watford match that is desperately fighting relegation.
Arsenal are in the middle of the table for an FA Cup final that they must win against Chelsea on Saturday to play European football next season.
Either way, the challenge remains the greatest of Arteta’s career as he marks six months for his first managerial position.
‘A big challenge? Without a doubt, “said the youngest manager of the top flight at the age of 38.” I could write a book about the past six months. I enjoyed it too. I put pressure on myself because I want the best.
“I know the standards of this club and it is very difficult for me to accept certain things. And I capture many details that I know must be a must in order to work. ‘