Granit Xhaka insists the criticism he faces with Arsenal doesn’t annoy him, but he doesn’t always understand why he’s getting it.
Speaking to the Swiss media, whilst on international duty earlier this week, Xhaka first admitted Arsenal fans have a right to high expectations, given the status of the club.
“Arsenal is extremely interesting to many people,” he said. “That’s just part of being a top club. The supporters and fans can expect a lot, that’s their right. Our demands are high too.”
The 25-year-old midfielder was then asked if comments from certain commentators were starting to get under his skin.
“No! I can deal with it,” he responded. “Although I do not always understand the critical tones, and occasionally wondered who said everything. But there are speeches from former greats, for which I have great respect.
“In the mental aspect, the pressure is enormous. I am not surprised; these are the conditions under which I moved to England. The enormous esteem that I feel within the club is proof to me that I did not do so much wrong.”
It’s good to hear Xhaka has the self-belief to endure the critics, because he’ll get them however well he plays.
Mesut Özil has been Arsenal’s best player in the five years since he joined, winning the club three more trophies than they won in the previous nine. Yet he gets slated most weeks.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made an electric start to life with his new club, scoring 10 goals and assisting four in 13 league appearances. Sky Sports called those debut months “inconsistent”.
If you play for a club like Arsenal, you had a target on your head. You learn to live with it or you move on. The way Xhaka responded in the second half of last season suggests he’s ready to fight back.
Hopefully he can do so from the off under new head coach Unai Emery, in 2018/19.