Granit Xhaka urges Arsenal to maintain top spot in Premier League ahead of World Cup
Released: 8:46 am EDT, Oct. 21, 2022 | Updated: 8:40 p.m. EDT, Oct. 21, 2022
Granit Xhaka has challenged Arsenal to remain at the top of the Premier League until the World Cup, telling his team-mates: “That has to be the goal.”
Mikel Arteta’s side are four points clear of Manchester City after ten games.
They have won eight straight games in all competitions and have the highest win rate of any team in Europe’s five major leagues this season (93 per cent).
Xhaka was instrumental in Arsenal’s rise to the Premier League summit, saying: “If you’re there, you need to be there for as long as possible.
Granit Xhaka has challenged Arsenal to remain at the top of the Premier League until the World Cup
“If we have a chance to stay where we are and the World Cup comes, maybe it’s a good break for everyone, maybe for us too, to prepare something else for January.”
Thursday’s Europa League win over PSV Eindhoven means Arsenal haven’t lost a single point at the Emirates this season.
“We’ve always been good at home, but maybe we’re a lot stronger now, a lot more compact, we have a lot more solutions,” said the midfielder. “Since Mikel is here, we have a lot more solutions, plan B and C maybe too.”
The Switzerland international has been reborn under Arteta in recent months and wrote another chapter in his redemption story against PSV as his goal secured qualification for the knockout rounds of the Europa League. Xhaka was then asked if he played the best football of his career.
After a strong start to the season, Mikel Arteta’s team is four points clear at the top of the table
Xhaka is a man reincarnated under Arteta and has played a key role in her success earlier in this tenure
‘Hard question, I don’t want to get down!’ said Xhaka.
“I’ve done a good job of being here where I am at the moment, but it’s a different time, let’s say it. I’m a lot more experienced, a lot more … not smart because I don’t want to call myself stupid beforehand, but with games, with age, with everything else around you, you become a different player, a different person. I am so happy that everything is going the way I always dreamed it would.”
The 30-year-old has started all but one of his games this season and is among several of Arteta’s key players who have had little rest.
The Switzerland international has urged his teammates to hold onto the top spot
“I’m not worried about that because the staff, the coach, they know how I’m doing physically, how I take care of myself. It’s not the first time,” he said. “Of course every win makes it a little bit easier, but I’m not worried about the minutes or the World Cup or the future.”
Elsewhere, punches are starting to take their toll, but Xhaka insists he won’t let fear of injury hamper his performance.
“I will never think like that when I go out on the pitch. This is football, it can happen in a second,” he said. “If you have a 50/50 ball, you have to put your foot in it. And me, my personality, the people who know me, I will never shy away from it.
On how he plays so many games, the midfielder added: “It’s a secret! No, I’m joking… I’m 30 years old, I certainly know my body better than before. When you are young you are different, you think differently. At 30 you know your body, you know exactly what you need more of and what not. Of course you have your privates around you to help you with everything, with eating, with recovery.’
Arsenal hope to continue their winning streak in Southampton on Sunday.