Granit Xhaka on being captain, changing his life, winning the league, beating Newcastle, City v Liverpool & more

Granit Xhaka has given a long interview to Blick in which he talks about becoming Arsenal captain and what that would mean, if Arsenal can win the league, where we will finish and who will actually win the league, amongst other things.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal in action during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnais at the Emirates Stadium on July 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 28: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal in action during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnais at the Emirates Stadium on July 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Granit Xhaka looks like he could well become Arsenal’s main captain after the departure of Laurent Koscielny to Bordeaux.

The Swiss national captain is already one of Unai Emery’s five captains, but will he be given the main role?

He’s ready for it if he is.

Ahead of Arsenal’s kick-off in the Premier League, he sat down with Blick for a long and frank interview.

I’ve reproduced the entire interview below, via Google translate, and it’s well worth your time.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal in action during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnais at the Emirates Stadium on July 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 28: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal in action during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnais at the Emirates Stadium on July 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Granit Xhaka, you are one of the three official Arsenal captains. It would certainly be an honor, you would be proclaimed as a tribal captain. 
Granit Xhaka: Of course, especially since there was never a Swiss captain in the Premier League. And I would inherit the legacy of great players like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry.

But it is also clear that in such an office one must be aware of the responsibility and high expectations placed on the captain of a club like Arsenal. You have to represent your teammates and fans with dignity. The fact that I am so high up in the hierarchy is, I think, a wonderful recognition for my achievements on and off the pitch.

Your seasons at Arsenal ended twice in 6th place and once in 5th place. What is Arsenal missing from the top clubs?
Somewhat provocatively speaking, one could say: In 2017/18 we were 13 points behind place 4, last year only 2 points that we missed to land in the Champions League. After all, the points are always what matters.

It is not mine or the task of the other players to speculate what the club could have done differently. We just have to look at each other as a team and take responsibility every day. We lost too many points against the supposedly easier teams last season and want to do the compulsory tasks better this year. If we can do that, we will be able to do well in the race for the Champions League and maybe have a say in the top spot.

Table top? Is it possible to win the Premier League
with this team Why not? Why should not it be possible? Certainly other teams are favorites, but we feel very comfortable in the role of the challenger. We’ve stayed together as a team, with only a few departures, going into our second season with coach Unai Emery, and we do not mind looking at other teams and the title race. If we can all get the most out of each other and play every game with heart and passion, then anything is possible in the Premier League.

But an improvement would be rank 4. Would you be satisfied with that?If, at the end of the season, I can say that as a player and as a team, I have done everything I can to reach our maximum, in training, in the game, in the regeneration phases, and then we reach rank 4, yes, then we would I am satisfied with 4th place.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - MAY 29: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal takes a corner kick during the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – MAY 29: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal takes a corner kick during the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Title holders Manchester City or Champions League winners Liverpool – who is favorite to the title?
With Manchester City winning the league twice in a row, once with 100 points and finally with 98 points, they are the sheer favorite for me.

If you look at yourself in the first, second and third Premier League season – how did you develop?
It is right to say that the step into the Premier League has to be well considered and that players often need at least one season to adapt. Therefore my goal was to reach the Premier League as fast as possible after the Bundesliga and to have the same value for Arsenal for my team as in Gladbach. I wanted to improve from season to season, so I signed with Arsenal on a long-term basis. Looking back, I was able to check off all the points in the time span as I had planned.

Do you eat and exercise right at the beginning of your career? 
Over the past year, I’ve turned around and optimised pretty much every stone in my personal training and nutrition. Together with experts and close confidants from Germany, I worked daily to increase my performance. A process in which I learned and understood a great deal, what it means to work and live professionally outside of the training grounds.

Can you describe this process in more detail? 
I have completely changed my daily routine and introduced many new processes: active recovery on the ergometer, the right nutrients at the right time to optimize my metabolism, control of regeneration, but also the training of my tactical understanding of the game on my daily schedule. I am confident that this commitment and these changes will pay off and help me in the future to become the best player I can be.

On Sunday you will meet Newcastle with Fabian Schär. What do you expect? 
Newcastle has a new coach, Steve Bruce, who brings new ideas and demands other things from his players. In addition, Newcastle has committed several new players. They have with Saint-Maximin a new, enormously fast man on the offensive wing and with Joelinton another striker, who has just proven his quality in the Bundesliga.

So the team will have to find each other first. All this does not change our plan. We want to beat our game against Newcastle.