Arsenal snapped a long winless streak against Chelsea this past weekend when they hammered the Blues 3-0 at the Emirates. The fixture was marred by the injury to midfielder Francis Coquelin, but that has given new signing Granit Xhaka the chance to show how he can take the Gunners closer to their goals in what could be Arsene Wenger’s final season.
Arsene Wenger had gone nine games without a victory against Chelsea before the 3-0 triumph at the Emirates on Saturday. The win pushed the Gunners to third spot in the Premier League and has provided hope that the Frenchman can end what could be his final year at Arsenal on a high note.
Wenger is the man who longs for triumph the most, after going more than a decade without winning the Premier League title. He may have completed 20 years at Arsenal last week, but the Frenchman has stated that he is hungrier for success now than when he first took over at the club.
“I’m hungrier now than I was [when he arrived in 1996] because I know I have not got 20 more years in front of me,” he said, according to the Guardian.
“I also feel a responsibility. You can’t be 20 years somewhere and not care, so I’m more conscious now about what Arsenal is all about, and I feel the weight of keeping people happy, and making people happy.”
However, one of the negative points of the game was when Francis Coquelin was taken off after suffering a knee injury. The medical team fear that he has suffered a recurrence of his medial ligament injury from last season and could be out for months, according to the Daily Mail.
While the absence of Coquelin for two months last season was a major blow for the Gunners, this time around they have a back-up who could steal the spotlight himself. Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka was brought in from Borussia Monchengladbach for £34 million this summer, and the 23-year-old could be Wenger’s final gift to Arsenal.
Xhaka is defensively solid and is capable of making sure Coquelin’s absence is not too keenly felt by the team. However, he also brings a match changing aspect to the Gunners midfield that the Frenchman does not. The Swiss has already shown a proclivity for the phenomenal, with a couple of stunning long range goals for Arsenal.
The presence of another new signing in Shkodran Mustafi in defence also helps Xhaka and Santi Cazorla get further forward in midfield. Mustafi is much quicker on his feet than the ageing Per Mertesacker, allowing the central midfielders more confidence to rove forward and attack.
Coquelin has been a faithful player to Wenger and Arsenal, but Xhaka could be the midfielder who helps Wenger satisfy his hunger in what could be his final year in charge.