Arsene has his new Arteta, but better!

Granit Xhaka – a name of steel to motivate the troops!

Arsene has his man for the summer. Granit Xhaka is the second central midfielder we signed this year and it will be very interesting to see where and how Wenger wants him to play. Xhaka, like our January signing Elneny, is a very fine passer of the ball. Only Bayern’s Alonso has more average passes per game in the Bundesliga, but unlike the Spaniard, and any of the other top-ten passers in Germany, Granit the Gunner (what a name!) is not afraid to play a long ball or a more risky pass….especially from deep. Xhaka has an average of 83 passes per game with a success rate of 85%, but he also executes a whopping seven long balls per game.


YouTube videos give indeed the impression that he loves to spread the game with pinpoint medium to long distance passes and with a good eye for a quick through ball. He does not linger on the ball either and, just like Elneny, he likes to find an efficient ball forward to create quick turnovers. He is confident on the ball and able to find or create space for himself constantly.

However, Granit also has the second most average fouls per game (2.6) in the Bundesliga and he loves the colour red, with three sendings-off last season in the league. With 2.4 tackles and 2.7 interceptions per game he does well in terms of his defensive duties, but he will have to balance his desire to get stuck in with a bit more discipline going forward. At just 23 years of age this will come, no doubt, and a bit of fire in our team will not go amiss either of course.

The more I look at the footage the more I believe we have signed a better version of Arteta – at least long-term. His ability to pass the ball forward from the back quickly and accurately, short, medium AND long distance will add another dimension to our play. IT will enable us to produce more deadly turnovers, I reckon. Rambo is not accurate and quick enough in this department and Santi misses some of Granit’s physical attributes. The Swiss young maestro seems to be a mixture of Santi and Coquelin or indeed a better version of Arteta. It leaves us with the opportunity to mix and match in the double DM pivot: we can pick two from Coquelin, Elneny, Santi, Rambo, Jack and Xhaka to create the right balance in the team depending on the opponent we are facing on the day.

Granit is already an established international with 41 caps (five goals) and has both top league and CL experience with 140 games under his belt (nine goals). Wenger paid a lot of money for him and there is no doubt that the former Borussia Monchen Gladbach captain will constantly feature in the first team next season, if fit. I have a feeling this will mean that Le Coq will not be an automatic choice next season. Francis, one of my favourite Gunners, is a more traditional DM with a more limited passing ability and Wenger seems to prefer to play more all-round midfielders with a strong emphasis on (forward) passing. This does not mean we will not see much of le Coq, as I expect Wenger to use him in games where we need to be defensively solid, or when we need to see games out.

I also feel that Wenger will play Elneny in the first team a lot and that we will see an Egyptian-Swiss partnership gradually flourishing in the double DM pivot. Granit and Mohammed, with their athleticism, natural physicality and superior passing ability, will allow the four attackers in front of them, as well as the full backs, to attack with intent and without worrying too much about the holes they are leaving behind them. I reckon that either Elneny or Xhaka will regularly join the attack, with the Swiss more likely to stay behind.

The question is what this would mean for the likes of Jack, Aaron and Santi. I reckon we will see Arsene play three attacking midfielders in front of the double DM pivot and with either a holding CF – Ollie – or a fast a furious CF – Alexis/new buy – up-front. It opens up the opportunity to play 4-2-3-1 – or 7-4 that can turn into 4-7 in just a handful of seconds – for which we can pick three from Santi, Jack, Aaron, Mesut, Alexis and Iwobi; and Theo might get another chance in this formation as well, although it looks like his time is up at THOF…

With Danny out for a long time and Theo possibly going, we need more fire power up-front, but with the signing of Xhaka we have just added a gem of a player -and with that another dimension – to our midfield play.

Granit the Gunner Welcome to the Home of Football!

By TotalArsenal.


51 thoughts on “Arsene has his new Arteta, but better!

  • Nice one, TA… And good to get business done early, IMO… Frankly, I thought we had missed out last summer when Leicester bought Gokhan Inler (Swiss of Turkish descent and a player I always liked…) but he hardly played what with Kante doing so well. Xhaka will be a(nother) reason to watch the Swiss matches at the Euros…

    Agreed about the formation ideas and it might make folks (Wilshere, Ramsey) maybe choose their words more carefully about being played wide vs central… My feeling is that if AW puts you in the first 11 your positional responsibilities are pretty minimal so you should just enjoy yo’self…


  • So true, 17HT, and thanks for commenting. If the full backs provide the width, then the three attacking mids need to support them and interchange with each other to find the space and then use it. Rambo, Jack, Cazorla, Mesut, Sanchez and Iwobi can enjoy themselves with the likes of Elneny and Xhaka behind them, but they have to really understand how Wenger wants to see them play…

  • TA, When the post was first up, there was no comment (“leave a reply”) box…but I was able to fix that…Others might have been trying…

    Part of the big issue–as I see it–at Arsenal is that fans are so quick to under-appreciate or turn on players when results fail to satisfy. As such players naturally try to do more than they should (individually) and it can hurt the team effort. Wenger buys a lot of #10s, of course, but figures that they should know when to move towards the ball (to help their mates) and away from it to spread the pitch (stretch the defense…) and/or get into scoring positions. All these analyses that Ozil can’t play wide or (declarations from) Ramsey or Wilshere that it’s not their preference ALL seem misguided to me. It’s a team game after all, but maybe at their level you measure your worth not by trophies but by the size of your next contract… On the other hand, our New World players (Alexis, Joel Campbell) don’t seem to have much hesitation is moving central even if they’re listed as wingmen. Who knows if it that’s by design or just instinct…

    Anyhow, cheers again for the post…and good to see that Arsenal have the wheels in motion on improving the squad…

  • Great insights as well of course. I think this will be a very good signing, particularly on your point about the long balls from deep. Alonso and Pirlo came to mind as I read that. Funnily enough ex Arsenal defender & swiss team mate Djourou has just been comparing him to Pirlo.. Sounds good to me. 🙂

  • Yet another dimension to our team. 🙂 .. onto the next signing.. A CF and a CD would be lovely please Arsene. 😉

  • Yes, it is a good signing, maybe in the form of Vieira as he is tall.

    However, we have to get rid of Rambo or Jacko as we have 6 players vying for 2 defensive mid spots, and the only rotation Le Prof is able to do is during the FA cup or injuries to any one of them.

    Thus, i forsee him partnering with Le Coq or Santi for a start, and Elneny maybe pushed to the back. I see alternatives for all 5 midfielder positions, and except for Le Coq, the rest can occupy the attacking slots, if we need to stabilise play in the central area.

    Yes, we have depth, but as i mentioned in the earlier posts we do not have a backup option who is quality. Now we add one player who is a cross between Santi and Elneny, and a left footer to add to the things that he can provide us with.

    I am not going to say about other positions for the time being.


  • Cheers FMJ, Xhaka has almost twice as many long balls as Alonso per game, but yes similar type. I reckon he gives us the option to play over the top quickly on top of passing our way through the midfield.

    84, no need to sell as we need strength in depth and Jack and Rambo are versatile players.

  • Coq, Eln, Granit, Santi, Jack, Ramsey. It’s going rather complex.
    1) Coq – Eln
    2) Coq – Granit
    3) Coq – Santi
    4) Coq- Jack
    5) Coq – Rambo
    6) Eln – Granit
    7) Eln – Santi
    8) Eln – Jack
    9) Eln- Rambo
    10) Granit – Santi
    11) Granit – Jack
    12) Granit – Rambo
    13) Santi- Jack
    14) Santi – Rambo
    15) Jack- Rambo

    15 possible combinations for the double pivot. My head spins to think that some are saying Kante also!
    No. I now want a striker, a goal scoring attacking midfielder (Mahrez) and if there is still something left in the bank — a CDer.

  • My choicest pair from the above pairings is GRANIT- SANTI. It fits smugly on our default philosophy which is offensive domination.

  • Hi all.. I thought We won’t have any post untill august.. hehehe..

    Xhaka.. Wow.. Still surprised me.. After Santi and Wilshere back from injury time.. hehehe.. And I will be crazy if Wenger bring Kante also.. hahaha..

    Wilshere said that he won’t play wide.. Can he secured one position in this fat midfielders team..?? I doubt it.. Xhaka-Santi will be the first option.. Elneny second..
    Ramsey.. if fit.. will still Wenger favourite RW.. Walcott second..
    Maybe Wilshere will be plotting as Oziel backup.. but I prefer Santi.. and Iwobi used to backup Oziel also..

    Coquelin.. It a beat unfair for him being third choice.. after two great season.. Elneny was already take his games.. now come Xhaka.. and there still Santi and Wilshere..
    Maybe Wenger should playing him more deeper role as a CB.. We know several players do great thing there.. Rather than bring an old CB from Barca.. hahaha..

    And now.. We are waiting for our second new player.. if not our last.. hehehe.. a Striker.. We all hope for that.. But Who is he..?? Are we looking for a first choice like Xhaka.. or just a backup..??
    Morata.. not for me.. I don’t think he is better than Giroud..
    I stick with my last comment.. Vincent Janssen is the man.. Altough Ibra is my dream striker.. Big, strong and lethal striker.. but his wages just not fit our philoshopy.. 600.000 a week player will destroy all the team..
    Vincent is also a strong and lethal striker.. Maybe just didn’t as big as Ibra.. but good enough to be our first striker.

    I wonder what will happened to our youngsters.. Will they be as lucky as Bellerin..??

  • HeheheheHenry, Le Coq as a CB is the best thought I read here for a while. Good thinking! 😄⚽️

    We said we will do a post if and when we sign somebody…

  • Le Coq at CB is worth a try but I am hoping we get the beast Koulibaly.. he is the next Sol Campbell! 😀

  • For striker Slimani or Jansen would be fantastic.. and Mahrez for the mid winger! Not much to ask as a ‘want it all now’ gooner is it hehe 😉

  • FMJ14 if we get Mahrez Ox and Campbell will be squeezed out..

    I feel that we have enough attackers in the midfield area, we just need a striker that is able to kill defenses. And Koulibaly.


  • JK, I agree striker & defender are priority. Mahrez a beautiful cherry on top as no one has been consistently effective on the right particularly the Ox and Theo, who knows maybe one of them will come good next season. What I think is more likely is that we will see more of Iwobi playing on the left and Alexis on the right giving the two Englishmen the chance to recapture there form on the wings mostly. Campbell did well there, very well in some games a very hard worker, with decent technique and can finish, but I don’t think he has much more to match our ambitions.. A good sub.

  • Agreed FMJ14,

    One of those 3 will be gone by next year if their form does not improve.

    Campbell i feel that he is able to do good things if given the chance to do his stuff, but Ox and Theo have been given far too many chances to be given a reprieve and they should go, for Mahrez and another midfielder worthy of our style. I do not like his diving skills, and if he does less of that he can be the best midfielder.


  • JK.. FMJ.. If I must chose between Walcott, Ox and Campbell.. I will certainly chose Walcott.. He bring a very different way in front..

    I don’t think Mahrez will come.. City or MU will give him a big hot salary before we did..
    If Wenger ever thinking about signing another Winger.. then Milik or Mkhitaryan should be a priority..

  • A surprise buy indeed , i hope he can be our new Viera big shoes to fill but a committed tough leader , perfect.
    That position is totally covered now lol
    Hello all by the way long time no talk , i hope your all well.?
    I have been very happy with Elneny he has been great , play the 2 together v the big strong attacking sides
    Agreed of course a striker and CB is all we need.
    £30,000,000 is a lot of cash good to see Wenger splashing out, i hope he finds us a gem of a striker. I get the feeling he wants business done before the Euros.

  • Sign Stones for me .
    Young English talented CB don’t let the other clubs like united nick him
    Alexis will become a CF in the future i think i would defo try it.

  • TA,
    He is a great replacement for Arteta but very different, i think Elneny is better going forward if he can just lead and get stuck in ala Viera i would be very happy
    My dream sign would be Neymar jr , maybe he might be tempted by a staring role up front for us instead of being in the gluteny team of 3 , worth a bid??? i say so

  • Thanks for that TA it was a good and interesting read
    The lad is clearly a star in the rising
    Highly rated by all who know which I was not 1
    Also pleasing to hear of the respect he has for Wenger
    Our team is so close to being really great and Wenger will find our gems I trust him

  • TA
    I am fine thanks, yourself?
    Sorry I have not been around much last few months a lot has been happening, life my friend
    Looking forward to a holiday next week though. Mojarra here I come lol

  • Super Post, Oh Great Double Dutch, 😀

    A wonderful signing in my ‘orrible opinion,and reallynhas raised my spirits.

    By the way, also terrific to see what support BK is still getting from HT17 – a top blogger!! 😀

  • I know I am whistling in the breeze, and there is tumbleweed blowing down the blog main street! 😀

  • Morning TA and fellow BKers. Great post, and great way to start the summer window. I’m in a cautious space for the moment about Xhaka. I’ve no reason to doubt him, and all the press seems very positive about his attributes. But if we had bought him for £10M with the same headlines I wonder if the excitement would be the same? I say this as I had heard next to nothing about him before. So I hope we have slipped in and purchased a major star just before the world took note. But there has to be an element of risk in there too. So I’m not counting on him as the star of our pivot just yet, and more than I’m consigning le Coq to the bench. Clearly £30M means we think and expect he will be a top end first team player. But let’s see him adjust and not burden him too much with the expectation that he will outshine Coq and Elneny (who have been amongst our better players) from the word go.

    A month ago, my priority for the summer would have been a CB. In fact I’d be happy for us to show pretty much all of our summer trading budget onto trying to find the next Sol Campbell. Now we have spent £30M on a DM and we have lost Danny for what might as well be considered the whole coming season. Can we afford not to purchase a new striker? I fear probably not. Akpom may yet flourish into a quality article. But he can’t be relied upon yet. Nor clearly can Sanogo. Theo didn’t take his chance in this last season. And Giroud needs both competition and rest. All that adds up to me as us buying a striker and for CB either a youngster or no one; instead relying on better DM cover for our back 4. The big question is whether Wenger buys big if he can find someone (Aubamayang), or buys potential (his preference like Morata), or possibly goes for a cheaper, short-term cover player (such as Remy). The last of these options would not surprise me at all; particularly if he still has faith in Akpom coming through. Given all the big PL clubs being out to spend this summer, I struggle to see us competing at the very top end, I fear. And the potential type player depends on the price being reasonable as well as carrying risk of them not being able to contribute much – Morata for example, looks pedigree, but hasn’t scored many goals as yet.

    Apologies, words of caution. Its going to be a really interesting TW, not just for us. Those expecting 3 SQ signings may prove to be disappointed. But, as has been the case for a couple of years, our squad only needs fine tuning, as its already a fantastic squad. Its just finding that right ingredient to bring the rest together. If anyone can spot what’s needed, in my opinion, its Wenger.

  • Good to hear from two of my favourite bloggers! 😍😍

    AB, you are of course right to be cautious and yes the price tag adds to the excitement and that could be misleading. Have a look at his YouTube footage and you may see for yourself what my excitement is all about.

    Agreed re CB and CF options. Funnily enough I am too worried about our attack but a CB is needed as Per and Chambers come with some deficiencies.

  • Indeed, very nice to get hear from some of the lads: RA (Cheers…), PG and AB…Henry too… That Guardian link is a good one, TA…Sounds like Xhaka could be a future candidate for captain, which is maybe some of the reference to Arteta in the title of the post…

    I think AB is spot on in taking a wait and see approach to Xhaka and all new signings. We get caught up in the idea that spending = success but it’s so much more difficult than all that, esp. if the press and pundits (and supporters who allow themselves to be led around by the nose…) then use the price-tag as a beating stick. We want good players and it doesn’t matter how we get them. Eventually supporters will realize that it’s what they’re earning that should be the real measuring tool. Players on big money who cannot keep themselves fit and/or don’t perform are the real drag on our resources… IMO… Having the funds to increase contracts as players step up–boring though it may be–is the real power of the new football economy…

    That said, Xhaka’s combination of passing range and combativeness (plus a bit of size) seems pretty ideal for playing in England and it could free up potential partners (Santi, Elneny, Rambo, Wilshere) to continue runs into scoring positions so we can get those much needed goals from MF. If he also can take a vocal leadership role, it could really be something. I’m just speculating and probably getting too excited too soon…With Le Coq sure to continuing improving, if Xhaka is an improvement on him I think we could be looking very solid at the base of the midfield. I need to slow down and see it all in action first…

    On that note, I’d love another signing (or two) before the Euros (and the Copa America) but that’s partly selfish as the more Gunners there are to watch, the more of those tournaments I’ll try to catch. Yesterday I watched the play-off final from Wembley and the bigger one from Milan but had a bit of trouble keeping interested without an Arsenal angle. The football got (much) better as the day moved on but still lacked a cutting edge, I thought (esp. relative to the basketball later in the evening–wow!)… It was nice to see that Carrasco fellow (who I read about extensively before we played Monaco in the CL last season) get the only open play goal but sad that JuanFran (who made the awesome assist and is another I’ve always rated) then missed his pen…

    The more we can do to stay ahead of the transfer frenzy, the better, I say. Some players will make names for themselves at the tournaments and prices will shoot up–including, perhaps, some of our own players who might be looking for a way out or at least an enhanced next contract. Better to think calmly now and get our ducks into nice neat rows… Which, overall, seems like what we’re seeing. We finished (a distant) second but ahead of the big spenders so we shouldn’t panic when the money really starts flying around…

    Just my opinion, of course, and your mileage may vary… From all I hear on the interweb, a good panic is probably fairly entertaining for a lot of folks. If so, I’m sure that option will avail itself…

  • Wow…Bank Holiday over here (yesterday) but I thought I wouldn’t completely kill the discussion… Maybe I should delete my comment?…

    Transfer tittle seems a little lighter ahead of the final Euro squads being named. Bellerin makes the Spanish team, Giroud booed in a friendly, Germany loses theirs but didn’t play Ozil… All of it adds up to not very exciting from an Arsenal perspective, I guess… Or am I missing something?…

  • Thanks for the reflections HT on the finals, I was impressed by Carrasco and Atletico in general, sad to see them lose it like that. Agreed about wages I think we should give Mkhitaryan what he deserves and let others not so deserving fight from the bench to prove themselves or leave if time has run out for them to do that. On Xhaka I just saw a great video compilation of him made in the last week:

    It really strikes me how he is seemingly always in control of the moment, orchestrating play from deep. His decision making is superb in these clips. In terms of showcasing skills his long passing range is most impressive (most often forward to spot runs), alongside his combativeness, ability to link up and make forward runs himself and a potential for more goals in that left foot too.

    My only concern is his discipline, but as TA’s guardian link about him points out (May 27th comment at 21:57) his last red card was in October, and he has only picked up one yellow since. Less reactive & susceptible to panic than our current players in those tough defensive moments, Xhaka’s leadership skills will help in those vital moments that have previously cost us points.

  • Cheers FMJ… That vid is impressive…I was hoping to see some tackling but the strength and control with the left foot was fantastic. He’ll have less time and space on the ball in England, I fear… But that’s where guys like Santi and Elneny getting him the ball quickly come in handy. Overall, it could be quite a thing…

    And it might even free up others (the blonde streak of Ramsey, for example…) to go on some scoring runs…

  • FMJ14,

    I rather we partner Granit and Santi, as they complement each other. One can do what the other cannot, and we are able to exploit both their quality to the fullest.

    If we are playing against both Manc teams, Granit and Le Coq should start.

    As Granit has a tendency to go for hard tackles, we might lose him a little, but I hope that Wenger can make him less hot-headed.

    This is a good way to ensure that we have quality in depth, as we have 2 sets of DMs that are able to cause damage to the opponents. Count Jacko and Rambo in and that gives you 3 sets.


  • So.. We will have a new post soon.. won’t we..?? Hehehe..
    Vardy news is another surprising yet existing for me.. I wish to see more faster and direct Gunners.. like some old days.. Hahaha.. Welcome Vardy.. You chose the right team..

  • I wasn’t expecting THIS post so soon after the ‘Happy Summer Holidays’ one.
    However, I will be expecting the next one …if the deal comes off?
    Agreed on your positive comments TA, he should be a good fit no matter who he plays alongside.
    Formation changes will have a few more options I think, which has been a long time coming?
    As an attacking force I like inverted triangle – 1-2-3, but the more conservative 4-3-3 one against strong attacking teams, and the 4-5-1 against the numerous PTB types.

    However the ‘next’ signing strongly rumoured would indicate that previous targets have got options elsewhere? Which will just leave the more difficult task of getting the right CB?
    Oh! And other options should we lose any of our current midfielders?
    p.s. I will try and catch the next post in the same month it is written 😀

  • Last season was all “we signed Cech and then closed shop”.

    This season its all signings with rumours, and then confirmed rumours, but as i take from previous seasons it is not done unless confirmed by the official website.

    No one else can confirm any rumours, not even Ollie.

    Its good that we are looking into a few players, but as rumours fly by, i can safely say they are just rumours.


  • Hi T, 17, the rest of the gang…
    I didnt expect Vardy.. interesting surprise though. I do like it. Arsenal twitter freaking out because not announced yet, then the “he’s backing out” rumours create a panic and getting tons of hits…
    I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal. I’ll be shocked if it hasn’t happened already.

  • Jnyc,

    I suspect that we are trying to close this deal but Lester being Lester they are trying to counteroffer. Or that we have been teased at.

    I am not surprised if this does not pull through.

    We have lots of potential deals that could have been, over the years, so one more is not going to cause much harm.


  • JNYC 🙂

    Who knows what is happening. Have a gut feeling it will not go ahead, but love to be wrong.

    As the storm moves on
    rain trickles off
    the leaves
    like an afterthought

    From ‘Above the Waterfall’ by Ron Rash

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