Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted he didn’t know how good midfielder Granit Xhaka would be after he moved into defence in last night’s draw with Chelsea.
The Switzerland international had to test himself in a new role for much of the game at Stamford Bridge, following David Luiz’s red card in the first half.
That sending off for Luiz also saw Chelsea awarded a penalty, from which they scored to go 1-0 up, but the game finished 2-2 in what has to go down as a good result for the visitors who played with only ten men for so much of the game.
Xhaka also clearly deserves immense credit for adjusting to playing in defence after Luiz’s dismissal, with the 27-year-old clearly impressing his manager.
Speaking afterwards, Arteta praised Xhaka’s mentality, saying he’s always willing to do whatever is asked of him.
Still, he added that Xhaka’s performance in his new position still came as something of a surprise.
“Everything I ask he’s willing to do,” the Spaniard is quoted by the Daily Express.
“I don’t know how good he was going to be at centre-back.”
Xhaka himself, however, commented that he hopes he doesn’t have to continue playing there too often.
“I hope centre-back is not my new position, but the gaffer knows I can play there,” he said, as quoted by the Express.
“I tried to help the team, and the guys around me made it easy for me today.”