Over the past decade, Arsenal fans have been through the toughest times. When getting behind the Gunners, they are forced to witness devastating defeats and guard of honours for former players. As those defeats added up, so would have the disgruntlement between the Arsenal fans, leading to an inevitable outburst of emotions in October 2019 towards Granit Xhaka.
Granit Xhaka: The Road Back to Redemption at Arsenal
An October Nightmare for Xhaka
The situation occurred after Arsenal had squandered a 2-0 lead against Crystal Palace. With the scores level, Unai Emery decided to substitute Granit Xhaka. As the Swiss international departed the field, the boos and even threats rang around the Emirates, directed at the midfielder. Xhaka, not one to go out without a fight, threw his arms up in the air before cupping his ears. It only angered the fans even more.
It was one of the darkest days that Arsenal have endured in the past decade, and there’s plenty to choose from. Emery’s reign was well and truly over, Xhaka was practically out the door already. The previous light of some hope of progress had dimmed significantly. A return to happier days and a comeback for Xhaka’s Arsenal career looked unthinkable. Nine months later, however, and football has once again surprised us all.
Xhaka Redemption Under Arteta
From Crystal Palace misery, Granit Xhaka has rebuilt himself into one of Arsenal’s most important players. Without the midfielder, the Gunners’ midfield looks disjointed and lacks the tireless leadership in which he provides. His redemption has been difficult, but the game at Wembley against Manchester City placed him back into the hearts of the fans once more, like an old married couple.
He was everywhere against Manchester City. If a ball needed clearing, was there to do it; if an interception was needed, he was the one to make it; when Arsenal needed to keep possession, Xhaka became the conductor. It was a performance of leadership to help guide Arsenal into the FA Cup final with a shock victory against Manchester City.
Hope for Arsenal
In the space of a week, that same light that looked dim under Emery is once more showing signs of life under Arteta after beating both Guardiola and Klopp in the same week. A clear plan and structure looks in place. The rebuild will take time, yes, but now is the time for Arsenal fans to unite and get behind the players. Once that is done, then Arteta can really begin to shape Arsenal into a Champions League club once more.
It has been a true redemption story for Granit Xhaka, whose Arsenal career looked all but over nine months ago. Now the focus must be on continuing the progress to reach the long term goal of a return to Champions League football.
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