Granit Xhaka

Aubameyang contract
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Arteta praises Xhaka; Manager, Aubameyang talk contract

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There was a time not too long ago that Granit Xhaka looked set for any club but Arsenal.

The Swiss midfielder had to turn in his captain’s armband after reacting poorly to fan jeers, and the 27-year-old missed three-straight matches.

Mikel Arteta saw something in the midfielder, who had been pivotal to Unai Emery’s plans before the coaching change and incident versus Palace, and implored him to reject Hertha Berlin and Newcastle United interest during the January transfer window.

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Xhaka did just that and has become pivotal to Arsenal’s season resurgence. Arteta explained what he loves about the midfielder, who received the captain’s armband from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the striker subbed out of Wednesday’s 4-0 defeat of Norwich City.

From Football.London:

“His commitment goes beyond anything normal. He’s a great example the way he lives this possession. I’m really happy we convinced him to stay and learn from the mistake he made.”

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So it would appear Xhaka’s future is secure and Bukayo Saka has signed a new deal.

Now what about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

“I’m really happy that Bukayo signed,” Aubameyang said after his two-goal game moved him into a tie for the Golden Boot race lead. “We’ll see. We’ll talk with the club and see what happens. I’m really focused on the games. Since Mikel is in we’re doing well. We’re working well. We have signs we’re improving.”

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Arteta says he’s leaving Aubameyang’s fate to the board of directors, though the Spaniard has long underlined the striker’s importance.

“The way he works every day he decided to get better,” Arteta said. “Hopefully he’s here for longer. He can see what we are trying to do and hopefully he can evolve.”

He later added, “Auba knows really well my thoughts towards him, the project I want to create and that I want him in that. I am positive and I will remain positive but things have to progress.”

Arsenal reveal lengthy injury update

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Arsenal suffered two serious injuries early on in the first game of the restart at Man City and they have revealed a lengthy injury update.

Mikel Arteta has had to deal with a whole host of injury problems since he took charge of the Gunners in late December and the injury update ahead of their trip to Brighton on Saturday (Start time, 10 am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) was not pretty.

Let’s kick off the Arsenal injury news update. It will take us a little while.

Center back Pablo Mari suffered a ‘significant injury’ to his left ankle against Man City and the  man on loan from Flamengo will undergo specialist assessment, while Granit Xhaka is out for at least a few weeks after he sprained his ankle in the first few minutes of the restart.

Cedric Soares, on loan from Southampton but out of contract on June 30, has had surgery to fix a broken nose and will be return to return in July, while Sokratis has a right thigh strain and will be out until July too.

Both Calum Chambers and Lucas Torreira remain out with long-term injuries as Chambers continues to recover from a ruptured ACL and will not be available until September at the earliest, while Torreira could return to training in early July after suffering a broken ankle in March.

Take a deep breath after all of that.

Add into the mix that David Luiz is now suspended for the trip to Brighton after his calamitous, and brief, cameo off the bench against Man City — a mistake for the opening goal, giving away a penalty kick and a red card all in the space of 25 minutes — and he may leave the club on a free transfer on June 30, which leaves Arteta woefully short of center backs.

Arteta, Xhaka: Arsenal ‘showed big character’ in comeback at Chelsea

Granit Xhaka says Arsenal has big character
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Granit Xhaka was a center back for the day after David Luiz was sent off in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

The Swiss midfielder’s tumultuous season is most certainly in heady territory since Mikel Arteta was hired in December.

Xhaka was ebullient after the Gunners twice came back following Luiz’s red card, which preceded a Jorginho penalty.

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“We played very well after the red card,” Xhaka beamed. “So difficult, but we showed great team spirit.”

Arteta agreed.

“I am proud,” the manager said. “I said to them I believe they can get back in the game and I’m very pleased. … Tonight is going to be a great experience for (the young players) as in football anything can happen.”

He went on to discuss the Gunners oft-debated character, as the 10th place Gunners sit 10 points behind fourth place Chelsea and will finish the match week at least four points off fifth.

“After this game nobody will have to speak about us: We showed big character,” Xhaka said. “A lot of people say we have no character in the team, so after this game we showed we have.”

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things learned ]

Arsenal visits Bournemouth this weekend in the FA Cup, and will like the look of their next two Premier League fixtures at Burnley and home to Newcastle.

The Top Four is a longshot, but you wouldn’t bet against the Gunners’ attack surging them into or near fifth. Baby steps.

Fleck artistry gets Sheffield United point at Arsenal

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John Fleck‘s perfectly lashed side volley gave Sheffield United a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.

The Emirates Stadium saw a wasteful first hour from the Gunners give way to a resurgent Blades side and a share of the points.

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Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring for the Gunners, who sit 10th with 29 points. The Blades move to 33 points and sit seventh.

The match was Mike Dean’s 500th Premier League match, and not without controversy. Dean neglected to award a penalty when Nicolas Pepe was chopped down in the box, but VAR stayed with him.


Three things we learned

1. Blades are for real: There’s a reason Chris Wilder is getting linked with plenty of jobs and got a new contract: Sheffield United’s men are bought into a system about as well as anyone not named Jurgen Klopp. Granted Arsenal let early United errors slide, but once the Blades took hold of momentum it rarely felt like the Gunners would score the game’s second goal

2. Aubameyang absence glaring: It’s no surprise that missing one of the world’s best scorers is a not good, but you’d peg Arsenal’s talented group of attackers to sort it out. Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette had their moments and Martinelli did get his goal, but there was an Auba-sized hole in both the aura and composure of the Gunners in the final third. That red card is stinging like a fresh cut.

3. Xhaka, Torreira steady: Mikel Arteta has found better play from Swiss hard man Granit Xhaka, while Lucas Torreira is working well with his center midfield mate. Their play allows Mesut Ozil to do whatever he wants, more or less. Throw in a fine day from Shkrodan Mustafi, and the Gunners were a Maitland-Niles 50-50 battle away from a clean sheet

Man of the Match: Give it to Fleck for the goal plus four tackles and another day of committed challenges.


Lacazette sent Nicolas Pepe down the right flank, and the Ivorian sent a terrific cross for Gabriel Martinelli. The youngster volleyed across goal and wide of the far post.

Lucas Torreira popped a dipping shot that Dean Henderson smothered in the 32nd minute.

Martinelli didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka. The latter had a terrific first half for the Gunners.

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The Blades didn’t quit, and Arsenal was forced into a goal line clearance in the 56th.

Pepe could’ve won a penalty when he was chopped down on a dribble into the box, but VAR upheld Mike Dean’s initial judgment.

Sheffield United scored an equalizerr in brilliant fashion, Fleck slashing a bounding side volley past Leno in the 83rd minute.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles blocked a shot and Leno made a tremendous save in stoppage time to keep the hosts’ point.

Arteta urges Xhaka to reject transfer to Hertha Berlin

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Mikel Arteta has urged former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka to reject a proposed move to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin and remain with the Premier League club beyond the January transfer window.

[ MORE: West Ham brings back David Moyes to replace Manuel Pellegrini ]

Xhaka, who was stripped of the captaincy in the wake of his confrontational response to Arsenal fans booing him back in October, has reportedly already agreed to contract terms with Hertha, but Arteta will be hoping that his last-minute appeal could persuade the 27-year-old Swiss midfielder to stay.

After he was previously frozen out of the team by then-manager Unai Emery, Xhaka has come back into the fold since Arteta’s appointment earlier this month. Asked whether or not Xhaka will leave when the transfer window opens in three days, Arteta had the following to say — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I hope not. He played at Bournemouth and did really well — very committed — and played a really good game.

“After the game, he started to feel ill and temperature. He was not feeling good and has been in bed for two days and that is why not selected.”

According to reports, the two clubs are yet to agree a transfer fee should Xhaka give his seal of approval. Arsenal paid $46 million to sign him in 2016, and they intend to recoup most, if not all, of that fee.