'Xhaka's been excellent, improving game by game'

Granit Xhaka delivered the latest in a growing line of standout performances at Wolves on Tuesday night.

We may have been beaten at Molineux, but Mikel Arteta was delighted with the Swiss international and hailed both his recent form and his partnership with Thomas Partey.

"I thought [Xhaka] was excellent the other night against Wolves," our manager said. "He has been really consistent. I think he is improving game by game. 

"I think his balance with Thomas is getting stronger, they haven’t played much together, and that chemistry has to flourish. I think they make each other better and we have a good balance between left and right footed there in those spaces as well. 

"Then there is his leadership level as well, he has matured a lot as a player and he has got a big importance in that dressing room. On the pitch, I think he is doing things much, much better than before as well.

"He is a really important player for us. Since I have been here I think he has played almost every game - and there is not a better way to show how much you like and you value a player than to give him minutes on the pitch."

Xhaka received a lot of criticism for his red card against Burnley in December - but Arteta says his response has been exactly as he had hoped for.

"It is not just the Burnley game, because he has had two big episodes," he said. "You can maybe overcome one of those, but I think the second time it really shocks you and he said: ‘I don’t want to go through that again’. 

"But this is why we are here, to try to support our players. I think the club was exceptional giving him all the support. We try to do the same, the team-mates did the same, and he has come through again. 

"Now he is getting a lot of praise, the way he is playing, and it is down to his character. It is down to as well how much he wants to succeed at the club."

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