Mikel Arteta explains how he turned Granit Xhaka and David Luiz around

Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s penultimate Premier League game of the season, Mikel Arteta was asked how he has managed to turn two of the club’s biggest liabilities into players worth having.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 18: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal and David Luiz of Arsenal celebrate following the FA Cup Semi Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on July 18, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matthew Childs/Pool via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 18: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal and David Luiz of Arsenal celebrate following the FA Cup Semi Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on July 18, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Childs/Pool via Getty Images)

Of course, it wasn’t put to him quite like that but let’s look at the players we’re talking about here. Granit Xhaka actually told the fans to ‘f**k off’ and David Luiz might as well have with some of his defending.

Now look at us all, loving them in our side.

“They are two players that are worth spending time with and giving confidence, because I know how professional they are, how much they want to be successful at this football club and how much they care,” Arteta told reporters.

Arsenal's Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) challenges Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) challenges Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

“Sometimes when they react or they have difficulties, they really suffer and when that happens, they deserve support and back up. They are showing from their performances that they deserve to be here and you can see how they fight for the club.

“The challenge with Granit was to convince him that there was still a place for him here, that I had big belief in him and that things can turn around pretty quickly in this industry.

“He had to send the right messages, first of all he had to believe that he could do it and if that was the case we were going to support him all the way through. I am really glad to hear and sense as well the reaction from the fans towards him. I think they can appreciate what he has done, that’s in the past and there’s a lot of positives to take from difficult situations.

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their second goal during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their second goal during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

“We all learn from that and I think he is a really good example for any player that is in a difficult moment… If you are willing and if you are consistent and you really want to do it there is always a way back.

“All credit goes to the players for the way they’ve been performing and the way they’ve been believing in what we are trying to do. Obviously this is a marathon, this is a long-term thing that has to be played and you have to do it consistently for 10 months.

“It’s not good enough to just do it for a week so we haven’t done anything, just won two games that give us a big plus in the league and the sense that if we are all doing our best we can beat any team but now we have to be consistent and do it every three days.”

To find out who is fit and who is not ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Villa Park for their final away game of the season, if you don’t count Wembley as ‘away’, click here (or just up there).