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Xhaka has endured a mixed start to his Premier League career after the 23-year-old was ineffective second-half substitute in Arsenal’s 4-3 defeat by Liverpool in their season opener at The Emirates.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has likened Granita Xhaka to Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit after the Swiss international helped the north London side record their first Premier League win of the season at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.
The £33m signing helped to solidify Arsene Wenger’s side for their goalless draw with Premier League champions Leicester City at King Power Stadium earlier this season.
However, Xhaka came into his own against the Hornets as the Switzerland international won five tackles, two aerial duals and finished with a pass completion of 86 per cent.
And Wenger, whose side are in eighth place in the Premier League table following their 3-0 London derby win, likened Xhaka to former Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Petit.
“I believe he has a good mixture of short and long balls, in midfield it is important for us to sometimes stretch the defenders,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website.
“We have a game that is based on shorter passes than other teams so sometimes when you have a player who can kick the longer ball, it gives us a chance to get some oxygen and some space.
“He is a guy who plays naturally behind the ball. He is a bit similar to Petit in the way he plays football. He likes to sit, give good long balls and be available with the centre-backs.
“He has a good engine, good stature, he is good in the air and has a good balance in his game, he has a good short ball and a good long ball.
“He is 24 years old, he has already experience abroad and that is always a problem and is more reassuring when a player has already played abroad somewhere.
“He was captain at his age at Monchengladbach, that is not a small club so he has leadership qualities.”
Xhaka moved to Arsenal in a £33m deal from Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach earlier in the summer.