Former Switzerland captain, Ciri Sforza, and SRF expert, Beni Huggel, have leapt to the defence of Granit Xhaka after the Arsenal midfielder was heavily criticised during the weekend’s game against Manchester United.

Handed the captain’s armband for the game, Xhaka did not enjoy the best first half against United on Sunday, however the criticism he faced at halftime from Thierry Henry, Graeme Souness and others was more than a little excessive.

A far better showing from the midfielder in the second half did not garner praise in the same way his underwhelming performance was slated and it was clear to all paying attention that the pundits passing judgement on Xhaka had not been watching him recently.

If they had been, they would have been aware of his much-improved form.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his sides first goal with Granit Xhaka of Arsenal and Alex Iwobi of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on April 29, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Souness accused the £35m man of ‘playing like an 11-year-old’ while Henry said, “No idea what kind of tackling that is, but he could still come back and try something. I just do not understand this reaction. You are the captain, get back and do something!”

“Granit has not without reason become Captain of Arsenal,” Sforza told Blick. “If you have critics, it means that you also have quality. Granit should remain calm and give the critics the answer on the pitch.”

Huggel, meanwhile, added, “The way the criticism is completely exaggerated.”

Xhaka finished the game against United with an assist, two key passes, a 90% pass accuracy, four tackles, two interceptions, and three clearances while only Nemanja Matic played more passes than him from both sides (79 v 97 passes, 98 v 107 touches).

Out of all the players who featured at Old Trafford, only five were rated higher than Xhaka on the day and only two of those didn’t score.