Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Granit Xhaka has achieved mastery in this field. Most players let the game control them, allowing their vital decisions to be led by those around them. Most, not all. Xhaka is one of those blessed with the skill of controlling the game. Not your typical English perception of controlling a game, no, true control of the game has all possible outcomes critically analysed and the skill to decisively execute low percentage passes to the highest degree of accuracy. In the Swiss international, Arsenal have an embodiment of Wenger on the pitch, a facilitator of beauty.
The £35 million man found his journey to his intrinsic value a turbulent one, starting on the bench in the Premier League’s curtain raiser, Xhaka was thrown into a hostile environment in an attempt to save a sinking fleet against Liverpool, eventually succumbing to hostility, being branded a yellow card on his first Arsenal appearance, a strand of the Swiss’ characteristic pundits and commentators feel compelled to allude to when describing the 24-year-old. In the midst of this ferocity is a player blessed with incredible perception of unravelling situations around him.
Granit Xhaka is like a newly bought violin, once fine tuned, millions are blessed with the beauty he possesses. Arsene Wenger is the Luthier, cultivating the unique attributes the midfielder has, crafting an instrument integral for the surrounding machinery. After eventual ambiguity regarding where the clog is best suited in the Arsenal machinery, the Frenchman settled on the obvious, deploying the Swiss international as a deep-lying playmaker, or as Santi Cazorla advocates will argue, the diminutive Spaniard’s role. Much has been made of the absence of the Spaniard, and the consequent impact it will have upon the Gunners title charge, however, all fears can be eased when applying logic to a situation that has been engulfed by the typical English method of conclusions, stats. No doubt you’ll have heard of Arsenal’s worryingly low 38.9% in his absence. Despite this alarming percentage, there are several reasons to not be alarmed. Firstly, the 31-year-old has missed the toughest part fixture list of the season in consecutive seasons now, a key influence in the win percentage. As majestic as Cazorla is to watch, and as well as he has performed in the big games his featured in, the Spaniard has found a vast number of his absences in recent seasons have come when the big hitters are in town. A further ease to your inevitable fears is the Swiss international. Following Cazorla’s injury nightmare last November, Arsenal found themselves having to through Matheiu Flamini into the firing line, inevitable failure followed. With a similar situation arising 12 months later, Arsene Wenger finds himself with a physically superior alternative with a similar technical prowess. Despite his limited playing time, Xhaka has won 25 tackles in the league this season, more than any other Arsenal player, a role often attributed to French destroyer Francis Coquelin. Combining this combative edge with his ability to play between the lines at ease brings the best out of those around him, allowing their beauty to be facilitated.
Xhaka transcends the simple destroyer, blending skill and graft to create a basis for art to be woven. Not only does he encapsulate the two skills, he allows tactical diversity, with all of Coquelin, Ramsey, ElNeny and Cazorla equipped with attributes to bounce of Xhaka’s. Dependant on the individual, the Swiss international can change his role. With Ramsey in the side the 24-year-old drops deeper, acknowledging the Welshman’s tendencies to drive forward. When Coquelin graces the XI, Xhaka’s position is further up, with the Swiss having the knowledge of the Frenchman’s limitations on the ball, giving him an easy forward outlet. This tactical nous the former Mochengladbach man has allows diversity in midfield the Gunners haven’t had on years.
Entering the inexorable Christmas period, only the special players sustain the performance of beauty, most succumb to the pressure. In the midfield maestro the Gunners have a ready equipped man ready to endure the harsh rigours the infamous month of December presents. Allowing those around him to bless the Emirates faithful, he is allowing spiritual happiness, with integral truth. He’s unselfish; therefore he won’t receive credit, but requires all Gunners to embrace him.