Former head coach of the Switzerland national team Ottmar Hitzfeld admits he can’t understand why Granit Xhaka is playing at left-back at the moment.
Xhaka made his debut for Switzerland under Hitzfeld, playing his usual central midfield position. However, in the past few weeks, he’s had to fill in at the back for Arsenal. The Gunners picked up a number of injuries to all of their left-back options, forcing Unai Emery to improvise.
Even so, Hitzfeld says it’s a shock to see the 26-year-old playing at the back.
“I’m totally surprised,” he said. “The coach must have a huge selection in the centre to move him. Although he has the intelligence, at the left-back. But that’s not his position, he belongs in the centre.”
Of course, the main concern for someone like Hitzfeld is the national team. At the end of the day, he doesn’t really care who plays left-back or central midfield for Arsenal, he just wants Xhaka playing regularly in the same position he’ll play for Switzerland.
“Of course it is not ideal if he plays in a different position at Arsenal than in the Nati,” Hitzfeld admitted. “But I do not think that it is a long-term solution. Granit can be brought to the centre either way.”
Hopefully, he’s right and it won’t be a long-term solution. It seems like all of Arsenal’s left-back options are returning at once, with Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal reportedly in line to return before the weekend’s match against Liverpool, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles back in full training after his fracture.
We’ll see if any of the three players are ready for Wednesday’s match against Blackpool. If not, we might have one more game with the Swiss international out of position.