'Xhaka shows why Arsenal bought him'

Written by Nia Griffiths

Granit Xhaka was once again Arsenal’s stand-out passmaster against West Ham on Wednesday night.

The midfielder was everywhere at once, delivering long ball after long ball for his teammates.

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This first appeared on The Daily Cannon

The Daily Cannon

At halftime, Xhaka was one of the highest rated players (6.8) under Hector Bellerin (6.9) on WhoScored. He had the most passes overall, which isn’t much of a surprise – 47 out of 56 – and also completed the most passes in the final third: 14 out of 20.

Although he was only 89% successful compared to Mohamed Elneny’s 97%, his progressive style of play is far more creative than his Egyptian counterpart’s.

Elneny’s a metronome, ticking along, keeping rhythm, while Xhaka is jazz. It doesn’t seem like he knows what he’s doing but, most of the time, he does.

I mean, just look at their pass maps.

Here's Granit's...



Granit Xhaka - Green: successful pass / Red: failed pass / Yellow: key pass

Granit Xhaka - Green


And here is Mohamed's...



Mohamed Elneny - Green: successful pass / Red: failed pass / Yellow: key pass

Mohamed Elneny - Green


Elneny’s passes were short and successful, where’s Xhaka’s were all over the place, searching.

But that’s why they compliment each other.

As you can see from Xhaka’s heatmap, he was massive for Arsenal’s midfield against the Hammers, taking a grand total of 133 touches.



Granit's heat map from the West Ham game

Granit's heat map from the West Ham game


At the end of the match, Xhaka had completed vastly more passes than anyone else on the pitch: 96 out of 109.

Of those, 23 out of 32 were in the final third and he had one shot on target. He created two chances, won his only take-on, and had SEVEN ball recoveries. Xhaka also won the second most tackles out of anyone on the pitch: three out of seven.

As well as one interception and two out of four aerial duels. He committed two fouls and… drum roll please… didn't receive a yellow card!

Xhaka is far from perfect and some of his passing can be a little wayward. He does make mistakes, which can’t always be blamed on those around him.

However, alongside Elneny, he looks a far better midfielder than next to Francis Coquelin.




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