Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on midfielder Granit Xhaka for the way he has responded to his red card against Burnley.
A passionate character by trade, Xhaka’s determination has seen him fall foul of referees and fans in recent seasons.
Last season, the Arsenal faithful booed him off the pitch after his sending off against Crystal Palace. While he responded to that incident after Arteta’s arrival, Xhaka became involved in another controversial incident in December.
Indeed, he grabbed Ashley Westwood’s throat and subsequently received a ban. Since then, however, the Switzerland international has played every minute of eight Premier League games.
Speaking to reporters (via Goal), Arteta outlined how the midfielder feared for his future after his latest incident.
“He has had two big episodes” the manager said. “You can maybe overcome one of those, but I think the second time it really shocks you and he said: ‘I don’t want to go through that again’.
“But this is why we are here, to try to support our players. I think the club was exceptional giving him all the support. We try to do the same, the team-mates did the same, and he has come through again.
“Now he is getting a lot of praise, the way he is playing, and it is down to his character. It is down to as well how much he wants to succeed at the club.”
Xhaka put in a solid performance against Wolves, despite the 2-1 defeat on Tuesday. In fact, defender David Luiz was mostly at fault for his red, which swung the game in the hosts’ favour.
“I thought he was excellent,” Arteta added. “He has been really consistent. I think he is improving game by game.
“Then there is his leadership level as well, he has matured a lot as a player and he has got a big importance in that dressing room. On the pitch, I think he is doing things much, much better than before as well.
“He is a really important player for us. Since I have been here I think he has played almost every game – and there is not a better way to show how much you like and you value a player than to give him minutes on the pitch.”
Arteta excited by Xhaka, Partey combination
As well as Xhaka’s recent influence, Thomas Partey has added another solid dimension to Arsenal’s midfield.
Arteta outlined how the pair are beginning to show signs of fulfilling his dream of having a flourishing midfield partnership.
“His balance with Thomas is getting stronger, they haven’t played together much, and that chemistry has to flourish,” the Spaniard said.
“But I think they make each other better and we have a good balance between left and right footers in those spaces as well.”
READ MORE: The Scout: Arsenal buy shows why ‘next Zlatan’ label was no fluke