December 4, 2022

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal goes past Kevin De Bruyne of Man City during the match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 25, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Leon Osman has told The Weekend Wrap that Arsenal have managed to turn Granit Xhaka into a “left-footed Kevin De Bruyne”, after the Swiss midfielder scored once again for the Gunners on Saturday in the 3-1 win over rivals Tottenham.

Xhaka, 30, spent his first six seasons at Arsenal as a holding midfielder. Often, one of two in a 4-2-3-1 system. But now, Mikel Arteta has changed Arsenal’s system into a 4-1-4-1 – or a 4-3-3. Xhaka has been pushed forward in midfield.

With Thomas Partey sitting, Martin Odegaard and Xhaka are sitting in front of the Ghana star. It sees Xhaka given the freedom to get forward and join the attack. It has hugely benefited Arsenal this season, with Xhaka proving profitable.

In eight Premier League games, the 106-time international has had a hand in five goals – scoring two, creating three. He got his second goal of the season with a neat finish against Spurs, and Osman compared him to De Bruyne.

“Arsenal’s left-footed De Bruyne. Further up the pitch, getting on the ball, making things happen. He’s making assists, scoring goals, beautifully-flighted passes. Such a strong character in the dressing room, a player the others look to.”

OSMAN: ARSENAL HAVE TURNED XHAKA INTO “LEFT-FOOTED DE BRUYNE”

Xhaka has been excellent. While comparisons with De Bruyne are some way off, he is giving table-topping Arsenal a new type of playmaker from deep. One that is willing to past the striker, something Arsenal fans have not seen of him.

But will be nothing new to Xhaka, who has often played as a 10 for Switzerland. In his 106 caps, he has had a hand in 22 goals – scoring 12 and creating 10. An assist or a goal every five games. He adds another dimension to Arsenal.

While he is nothing on De Bruyne in terms of being a playmaking genius, he is Arsenal’s attacking playmaker and they sit top of the table – City do not. If he can maintain his form for the whole season, he could be Arsenal’s unsung hero.

 

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