Arsene Wenger has drawn comparisons between Arsenal new boy, Granit Xhaka, and midfield legend, Emmanuel Petit.
During the Gunners’ 3-1 win away to Watford on Saturday, Xhaka was one of our stand-out players. His long balls add a whole new dimension to our attack and make us far harder to read tactically. However, he’s also strong defensively and knows when to sit back. Wenger has likened this style to former Arsenal and France midfielder, Petit.
“I believe he has a good mixture of short and long balls, in midfield it is important for us to sometimes stretch the defenders,” Wenger said after the win at Vicarage Road.
“We have a game that is based on shorter passes than other teams so sometimes when you have a player who can kick the longer ball, it gives us a chance to get some oxygen and some space.
“He is a guy who plays naturally behind the ball. He is a bit similar to Petit in the way he plays football. He likes to sit, give good long balls and be available with the centre-backs.
“He has a good engine, good stature, he is good in the air and has a good balance in his game, he has a good short ball and a good long ball.
“He is 24 years old, he has already experience abroad and that is always a problem and is more reassuring when a player has already played abroad somewhere.
“He was captain at his age at Monchengladbach, that is not a small club so he has leadership qualities.”
Petit only played for Arsenal for three years (1997-2000) and ended his career at rivals Chelsea after an unsuccessful spell at Barcelona, but his name is still brought up in connection to the Gunners regularly.
For Xhaka to be compared to such a footballer is not only a massive compliment but a statement of how much the boss believes in him.
Indeed, the Switzerland international is already so exciting to watch. Now he’s fit, you can’t see him being benched anytime soon. He’s a brilliant player and just what we needed.