Granit Xhaka has been improving the timing of his tackles according to a recent interview.
The Swiss midfielder arrived at Arsenal with a reputation for receiving yellow and red cards.
It didn’t take him long to show why. Xhaka’s “tackling” amounted to throwing himself to the ground and scissoring opponents down.
Inevitably, he received two red cards in his first season with the club.
Xhaka has reflected on the way he used to tackle, and has acknowledged that he needed to improve.
“With hindsight, you are a bit cleverer. There was a time in Germany where I got lots of yellow cards and some reds,” he said, as reported by the S*n.
“I analysed the cards — and some were not so necessary. I analysed that a lot when I came here.
“The two red cards playing in my first season here, one I understand against Swansea, one against Burnley less so. But I need to accept that.
“I don’t think now that football in England is softer than I thought before. I still think it’s tough and you see that every weekend.”
His disciplinary record noticeably improved as the season went on and there were far fewer instances of him going to ground.
This was partly due to Arsenal’s improved defending, which required Xhaka to make fewer last-ditch attempts to stop the opposition coming forward.
It was also down to Xhaka himself analysing some footage of his tackles and receiving advice from Arsene Wenger on how to improve.
“You need these small tips. I’ve been here for more than a year and learned a lot from him, specifically on the mental side,” he added.
“The boss has done a lot. I’m a hard-working young man who believes in myself. I don’t think I’ve reached my limit yet — I can still learn a lot. He’s made changes, like to the system.
“It’s important for a manager to have players who can do that. I think, when a manager has been at a club for more than 20 years, he can only have a positive impact.”
Xhaka has been ever-present for Arsenal in the Premier League this season.
He’s yet to be sent off, and has only received three yellow cards, which is low by his standards.
More importantly, there haven’t been many stupid, reckless tackles from him that might alert the referee.
There were concerns that Xhaka’s reputation would see him unfairly punished, but those have, so far, proven unfounded.