Granit Xhaka responded to the ‘talk’ around his Arsenal performances with a commanding display in the win over Chelsea.
The Gunners midfielder came back into Mikel Arteta’s starting line-up after being sent off in the defeat to Burnley earlier this month.
Xhaka saw red against the Clarets after lashing out and received scathing criticism from the likes of Graeme Souness and Martin Keown.
Souness said on Sky Sports: “It’s stuff you see in the playground. His reaction is totally wrong. It’s a foul and a yellow card because he’s clumsy. Accept it and move on.
“His reaction is just totally wrong. Why do you want to square up? To get involved in that nonsense.”
And Arsenal legend Keown had questioned whether the Swiss international should come out of the team ahead of the derby with Chelsea.
“He just does not get around the pitch quickly enough,” Keown said. “He has made some huge mistakes – so many in fact you would be surprised if there is a way back under Mikel Arteta.
“If the experienced players cannot do it, it is time to trust a youngster in the heart of midfield. ‘Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an England player and he was superb in that position against Rapid Vienna. He has great pace, is good in possession and can defend.”
However, Arteta stuck with his man and was richly rewarded as Xhaka scored a stunning free-kick in the morale boosting 3-1 win over the Blues.
Following the game, he admitted that he was disappointed with his actions against Burnley, but was pleased to prove some of his detractors wrong against Chelsea.
“People started to talk a lot after the game [against Burnley],” he said, after the win.
“Of course I was very disappointed about the red card. I knew what I did was wrong but I am just happy that I helped the team and I’m back.
“I will always show my character and continue to give 100%.”
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Arteta claimed that Xhaka showed the kind of qualities that he has always seen from Xhaka and revealed that was the reason behind his staunch defence of the player.
“Since I’ve been here he’s always shown that,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been really supported of him.
“He makes mistakes like we all do but his commitment and his character and how much he wants to fight for this club and team is unquestionable. I think today he showed that again.”
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