Since there are still doubts about Santi Cazorla’s fitness, Granit Xhaka is in line to return from his three match domestic ban for
card accumulation his straight red against Swansea to face Tottenham in Sunday’s North London Derby. His booking against Swansea City kept him out of the past two Premier League matches. Xhaka’s form has been impressive so far this season but Arsene Wenger has expressed some concerns about how Xhaka will respond in the high-pressure situations that occur when Arsenal faces its biggest Premier League rival.
Xhaka has accumulated eight red cards for club and country since 2014. Wenger expressed some of concerns about this lengthy discipline record but is optimistic about how Xhaka will perform on Sunday. When asked about Xhaka by The Guardian, Wenger said that,
“Normally he is a very composed and calm guy. Sometimes on the field he has a reaction that is a bit impulsive and he knows that. It is not because you talk about that. He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game.”
In the season before his transfer to Arsenal, Xhaka accumulated nine cards in the Bundesliga and the Champions League with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Granit will likely see the same number of bookings this season, having accumulated two cards in the Premier League and one in the Champions League. Wenger does not appear to have serious doubts about Xhaka’s temperament so far this season, believing that he will continue to work on how he reacts to certain situations.
Sunday morning will be a huge test of Wenger’s confidence in Xhaka’s composure in a major fixture. With a positive start in November and several key players making their way back from injury, Wenger believes the Gunners
“...have an opportunity to show that we are ready for a challenge like that, to show that we can do better than we have done historically. We have already started November in a positive way and the team can show that they can both face history and make history.”
It will interesting to watch how Xhaka responds in his first North London Derby. He has scored for Arsenal in the Premier League against Hull, the League Cup against Nottingham Forest, and now the Champions League after his goal against Ludorogets on Tuesday. Hopefully Granit will be able to showcase his talents against one of the most quality sides that he has seen thus far in the Premier League.
Tottenham is dealing with several important injuries themselves and have only won two of their past seven matches. In addition, reports have indicated that Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld, and Mousa Dembélé are all unlikely to play. Although it’s still early in the season, a victory would solidify Arsenal’s place over Tottenham in the league table. A strong performance from Granit Xhaka in the match against Tottenham will be crucial as Arsenal looks to continue its strong form against its rivals from North London.