Arsenal beat Newcastle United at St James’ Park yesterday to register back-to-back away victories in the Premier League for the first time since the 2016/17 season. After a drab first half, Unai Emery’s men took the lead soon after the break via Granit Xhaka’s brilliant free kick.
Xhaka had a fine game all round – his best for a long time. The 25-year-old has attracted much criticism in recent months for his lack mobility, defensive indiscipline and costly mistakes. Yesterday, however, he barely put a foot wrong and, alongside Lucas Torreira, kept his side’s midfield functioning effectively throughout.
The Switzerland international completed 103 passes against the Magpies – far more than any other player on the pitch – and also played a key role in the build up to the Gunners’ second goal, scored by Mesut Ozil.
After the game, plenty of Arsenal fans took to Twitter to congratulate Xhaka on his much improved showing…
Xhaka might well be the most important player in the squad. Outstanding performance when he doesn’t have to worry about defensive duties, Torreira complements him extremely well. Mesut and Bellerin superb. Lacazette really good, right now our best striker.
— Spanish Gooner (@elspanishgooner) 15 September 2018
Xhaka & Bellerin impressive too, both receiving criticism recently but performed. Easier to see positives when watching the game without emotional stress of expectation!
— Martin Grayson (@MG_1886) 16 September 2018
Xhaka had his best game for Arsenal yesterday.
— Frank Opara (@fopara03) 16 September 2018
Xhaka played his best game in years when he had Torreria next to him and wasn’t covering every single mistake his partner didn’t want to take responsibility for… Go figure tbh
— Roberto (@Rrrroberrrrto) 16 September 2018
Granit Xhaka performed very well yesterday, scored a great free kick and looked better beside Torreira in the second half! Hopefully there’ll be more performances like it.
— Kevin Campbell (@1kevincampbell) 16 September 2018
Where the Xhaka haters now!!!
— The Arsenal (@DareToWenger) 15 September 2018
Xhaka I thought was immense today, especially in the second half. Did not put a foot wrong. His game goes up another level when Torreira is next to him. That free kick was top quality. Clear to see he’s putting in the hours on the training ground on set pieces.
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) 15 September 2018