On the day that The Athletic journalist David Ornstein revealed that Arsenal are intensifying their pursuit of Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka delivered the kind of statement-making performance against Norwich that would have got people to sit up and take notice.
The Gunners ran out comfortable 4-0 winners over the Canaries on Wednesday night, and the Switzerland international in particular was in inspired form in the middle of the park.
Xhaka’s topsy-turvy relationship at the Emirates is well-documented, with suggestions that after his anger and frustrations boiled over against Crystal Palace, he would be off to Germany in the January transfer window.
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But in came Mikel Arteta to permanently replace Unai Emery, and the former Borussia Monchengladbach man hasn’t looked back since. In fact, after Wednesday evening’s result, the Gunners have remained unbeaten in the ten Premier League matches Xhaka has started and completed the game under the new Arsenal boss.
And against Norwich, he was outstanding. Aside from his well-taken goal in which he made a marauding run forward before sweeping the ball home with his left foot, the Swiss star controlled the game and dictated the tempo in the middle of the park.
As per Sofascore, he had 66 touches of the ball, with only Dani Ceballos and Sead Kolasinac having more, whilst his astonishing 96% pass accuracy (49 of 51 completed) was by far and away the highest of the team.
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He also contributed with one key pass, one blocked shot and one interception over the course of the 90 minutes, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s decision to hand over the armband when he was being substituted, showed how full circle everything has come.
Speaking after the game, Arteta waxed lyrical over his midfield maestro, saying: “His commitment goes beyond anything normal. He’s a great example the way he lives this possession. I’m really happy we convinced him to stay and learn from the mistake he made.”
So whilst the Gunners seem to be exploring ways to bring Partey to the club this summer, Xhaka reminded everyone just how good of a midfielder he can be on his day too.