Granit Xhaka sends message to Arsenal fans after flying start
Granit Xhaka discusses his "amazing" new connection to Arsenal's fans after his strong start to the new season
Granit Xhaka has admitted that it is “absolutely amazing” to hear Arsenal fans sing his name following his strong start to the season.
Xhaka endured one of the lowest moments of his Arsenal career when he was jeered by the home fans at The Emirates during a Premier League match against Crystal Palace back in 2019.
However, despite being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in the wake of that incident, the Switzerland international has kept his head down and worked hard over the last few seasons to continue to keep his place as a key member of the Gunners team.
The midfielder has started the new campaign in excellent form and he netted Arsenal’s third goal in their 3-1 victory over Tottenham in the north London derby on Saturday.
Xhaka has scored two goals and made three assists in eight Premier League games for the Gunners this season to help them lead the way at the top of the table.
And the 30-year-old has expressed his delight at the way his relationship with Gunners fans has blossomed in recent months.
“It was funny because I was joking with Alex Zinchenko in the warm-up,” Xhaka told Arsenal’s matchday programme. “They were singing his name after just three weeks at Arsenal. I told him ‘Alex I’ve been here for six years and I don’t have a song and you have just got here and you do!’
“So I was joking with him on the pitch beforehand, and then at the end of the game I could hear our supporters singing my name. Maybe they heard me chatting to Alex!
“But seriously, it was an absolutely amazing, amazing feeling for me, because everybody knows what I went through with the fans. That’s in the past now.
“To turn it round and be able to show them the Granit that I always wanted to show them, to feel connected and feel their love gave me much, much, much more self-belief, and also more desire to give them something back.
“So hopefully we can stay with this connection now, not just with me, but with all the players, because it’s very important for us to feel the love from the fans. I was a bit surprised when I heard it, I didn’t know what to do, but I want to say how much it meant to me and how much I appreciate it.”
Arsenal’s victory over Tottenham kept them one point clear at the top of the Premier League table head into Sunday’s clash with Liverpool FC at The Emirates.
Xhaka was named of the player of the match in the north London derby victory, and his performance also drew praise from Arsenal legend Thierry Henry after the game, with the ex-striker claiming that the midfielder is currently playing “way better” than previously.
“What I like with the Arsenal team right now is that it’s a different team,” Henry told CBS Sports, as quoted by Metro. “If you talk about something that’s important, it’s a different team.
“Gabriel Jesus is really changing, not only him, [William] Saliba at the back allows them to play in a back four, so Mikel [Arteta] goes into what Pep [Guardiola] does also with City with [Oleksandr] Zinchenko.
“Xhaka is playing way better. That’s what I was more impressed with than the result because that [Arsenal beating Tottenham] happens all the time.”
Xhaka’s impressive performances this season have also not gone unnoticed by the club’s fans. He was voted as the club’s player of the month for September, having earned 83 per cent of the vote ahead of Gabriel Jesus (eight per cent) and Bukayo Saka (six per cent).