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Where is Xhaka ?

Granit Xhaka unable to nail down Arsenal place under Arsene Wenger

Arsenal went to great expense to sign Granit Xhaka in the summer, so why isn’t he playing? Nick Wright takes a look ahead of their clash with Bournemouth on Nissan Super Sunday

It has been a curious start to life at Arsenal for Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder became Arsene Wenger’s third most expensive signing when he arrived from Borussia Monchengladbach for £34m in the summer, but after three months of the campaign, his impact has been muted.

It comes after Arsenal scouted Xhaka extensively last season. They watched him closely as he helped Gladbach to a fourth-placed finish in the Bundesliga, and there was more cause for optimism when he shone for Switzerland at Euro 2016.

 With his blend of steel, technical skill and experience, he seemed like a midfield upgrade who would slot straight into the team.

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Instead, Xhaka has started only eight games out of 19. The 24-year-old was left on the bench for Wednesday’s crucial Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium, and he has also been overlooked for big games against Chelsea and Manchester United.

 When the stakes are high, Wenger tends to opt for someone else.

Xhaka has plenty of time to change his manager’s thinking, but the slow start is not what anyone expected. Xhaka was a marquee signing who arrived with a burgeoning reputation, and yet he finds himself at the bottom of Arsenal’s midfield pecking order. What’s particularly strange is that it’s not easy to see why.

Perhaps Wenger is still wary after his red card against Swansea last month. Xhaka was hit with a three-game suspension for deliberately tripping Modou Barrow in Arsenal’s 3-2 win. It was his eighth red card in under three years, and it made for a nervous finale at the Emirates.

Wenger addressed Xhaka’s chequered disciplinary record when he returned from suspension ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Tottenham. “Am I bit concerned? Yes, of course,” he said.

 

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