Peter Crouch and Cesc Fabregas hail Granit Xhaka’s ‘character’ in turning around his Arsenal career… with his man of the match display in north London derby coming three years after he was BOOED off at the Emirates
Peter Crouch and Cesc Fabregas hailed Granit Xhaka for turning around his Arsenal career after a stunning performance in the Gunners’ 3-1 derby win over Tottenham.
Arsenal grabbed the bragging rights in Saturday’s north London derby, emerging victorious at the Emirates thanks to goals from Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and a fine third from Xhaka.
Harry Kane had equalised for Spurs from the penalty spot but Emerson Royal’s second-half sending off put paid to their hopes of earning anything from the game as they collapsed under Arsenal pressure.
Granit Xhaka was awarded man of the match after Arsenal’s win over Tottenham on Saturday
Xhaka himself was awarded the player of the match award and was hailed by Gunners fans.
The Swiss international has had a strained relationship with the Arsenal faithful since joining the club in 2016.
This includes a well-documented on-field strop that saw him taunt fans and throw his shirt on the ground, and led to him being stripped of the captaincy, back in 2019. However, improved performances since Mikel Arteta took over as manager have begun to turn things around.
Speaking in the BT Sport studio after the game, former Spurs forward Crouch hailed Xhaka’s turnaround at the club.
Xhaka has rebuilt his Gunners career after falling out with fans and being removed as captain
He said: ‘From throwing the captain’s armband and the booing he was getting. The way he’s come back shows character.’
Xhaka has also experienced a positional change under Arteta, with the midfielder playing slightly further forward while Partey has takes on a deeper role in midfield. Crouch believes this has helped Xhaka convince those who doubted him.
He added: ‘He owes a lot to Thomas Partey to allow him to play further forward and it is credit to him for turning it around.’
This view was backed up by former Arsenal favourite Cesc Fabregas who said: ‘Xhaka was sometimes too lonely in midfield. His position change has helped him.
‘He struggled in open spaces but is better when Arsenal are more compact and he has more license to go forward now.’
Gunners boss Arteta was delighted with his team’s performance but was particularly pleased to see Xhaka add the third goal.
Fabregas praised the Swiss midfielder and believes his positional change has helped him a lot
He said: ‘You could feel the connection between the players, the staff and the crowd and I’m so happy because it was a beautiful day and a beautiful game.’
Xhaka himself was delighted with the three points after the game and believed it was a thoroughly deserved victory for the Gunners.
He explained: ‘Absolutely that is a huge win. We didn’t have much time to prepare due to the international break. From the first second we the better team.
‘After the goal we conceded we struggled a little bit but it is part of football and the second half was much better.
‘It is my first derby goal in England. I’m very happy to help the team. So happy to help the team and to win.’
Arsenal’s win over their arch-rivals extends their lead at the top of the table to four points ahead of the rest of the Premier League’s games.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was delighted with the win that keeps the Gunners top of the table