It may not surprise you to learn that Granit Xhaka completed the most passes out of any other player on the pitch during Arsenal v Stoke.
Despite giving away a controversial penalty, the midfielder was brilliant once again, teaming up with Francis Coquelin and putting through some excellent passes up field.
Xhaka completed a total of 77/88 passes, beating Mesut Ozil, who ‘only’ completed 59/66. In third, we have Coq, who made 59/63 successful passes.
What’s more is that 27 of these were in the final third. Now, Ozil did beat him there (36) but for a central midfielder, creating that much is great to see.
As you can see, most of these passes were forward. Progressive. Rather than side-to-side or backwards. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want our defensive midfielders taking gambles but Xhaka’s ability to deliver an accurate, assured ball has shown us exactly what we’ve been missing.
Although Coq is improving, especially when it comes to passing forward, he’s still the more defensive of the two, which is perhaps why they work well.