Against Brighton, Granit Xhaka made his 42nd consecutive Premier League start, raising questions about why Arsene Wenger is so insistent on playing him whatever the scenario.

1Nailed-on starter

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal looks dejected following the Premier League match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at Amex Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

The last time Xhaka failed to start a Premier League match for Arsenal was over a year ago, in a February match against Hull City.

Even then, he was only out through suspension.

To find the last league game where Wenger chose not to start him we have to go back to November 2016.

Over the weekend, Martin Keown said the fact that Xhaka is an “ever-present” in the team proves Wenger trusts him, but he added that he feels the midfielder has let his manager down this season.

Keown said the 25-year-old “gives the ball away, makes rash challenges, [and] gets booked too often”.

Xhaka isn’t useless or undeserving of his spot

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur argues with Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal and Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on February 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Against Brighton he was actually one of Arsenal’s better players. He saw more of the ball than anyone else and used it well, providing an assist for Aubameyang.

Last season, the Swiss midfielder made a good start to life in England.

The only real concerns were about his disciplinary record, which is significantly better now. He hasn’t picked up a single suspension in the last year, not even for an accumulation of yellow cards.

The trouble is that his performances in general have dropped significantly.

Opposition players know how to stop him now, denying him the space and time to play his passing game.

They also seem to know how to force him into mistakes.

Perhaps he can perform against the likes of Brighton, but clearly not against a team like Manchester City.

At least not in the current system.

Yet Wenger plays him anyway, week in, week out, regardless of form or opposition.

So why is Wenger so keen to start him? Click next to find out