Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was criticized heavily for dropping new signing Granit Xhaka to the bench in Arsenal’s Champions League clash against Paris Saint Germain. Although, the game ended in a draw from Arsenal, we saw a disjointed display from the squad, mainly attributed to the Francis Coquelin’s failure to sit deep in midfield.
Ahead of the Premier League game against Hull city, Arsene Wenger was asked about new boy Granit Xhaka. The French tactician revealed a lot of thought regarding the Swizz international and his midfield set up in general.
Rather than dress it up, here’s a transcript.
Journalist: Can I ask you about Xhaka? A lot of people were surprised he didn’t start in midweek.
Wenger: It’s not about his quality at the moment, he adapts to the pace of the English game. And for me it’s about pairs as well who work together.
Coquelin and Cazorla have worked well together. But he will play games. Every week he’s stronger and better, and he will have a huge impact as a player.
Journalist: He looks as if he’s got great physical strength. The other night he came on and you could see him immediately impose himself on the game.
Wenger: He can of course. He has the stature, the power, the strength, what we want is that for him to use that in a very efficient way. It’s short you know, we are September, we only started in August. It’s one month, for many players it took them some time to get into the team and he will do that without any problem.
Journalist: How would you describe him? Is a box-to-box or an anchorman? He seems to be quite adaptable.
Wenger: I personally prefer him as a box to box player, because he has the engine, the power, the long pass, he likes to come deep and distribute the game. I think as well he has the engine to make an impact with his runs.
Journalist: Has he got the qualities you’ve been missing in midfield?
Wenger: Look, we always had good midfield players, you cannot say we were missing anything. We wanted to add players with quality, him and Elneny are top class players, but there’s a lot of competition in midfield at the moment. I’m sure both of them will get in the team.
Journalist: When you say it’s about pairs, does that mean it’s difficult for him to play with Cazorla?
Wenger: No, not necessarily. What I mean is that Cazorla and Coquelin have 50 or 60 games together, that has a little impact sometimes on my decisions.
Journalist: With Xhaka, is it that new arrivals are blown away by the pace and physical nature of English football? Does it take them by surprise.
Look er, in one or two occasions. I think he adapted quite well personally, because of his physical strength and his power allows him to play straight away. Sometimes you know, we lost our first game, you go a bit for stability, but he’s highly focused, Elneny as well.
Both of them are highly focused, and they are top, top quality.