Football

Granit Xhaka reveals how Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger helped him cure his red and yellow fever

GRANIT XHAKA used to be a walking red card — but the Swiss midfielder has learned the error of his ways.

The Gunners star was sent off for the ninth time in three seasons when Jonathan Moss showed him red for a studs-up challenge on Burnley’s Steven Defour in January.

 Granit Xhaka says Arsene Wenger has given him help with tackling

Getty – Contributor

Granit Xhaka says Arsene Wenger has given him help with tackling

That took him to three dismissals last term — two straight reds for Arsenal and one for Switzerland — and he earned 14 bookings too.

The previous season, he was also sent packing three times while playing for Borussia Monchengladbach.

But he is a reformed character so far in this campaign — with only three yellows and no red cards.

And as he prepares to face Burnley today at Turf Moor, Xhaka explains how he made changes to his game to avoid trouble.

 Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up his ninth red card in three years after his foul on Steven Defour in January
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up his ninth red card in three years after his foul on Steven Defour in January
 Granit Xhaka reveals he had to learn to keep his feet on the ground when tackling

AFP or Licensors

Granit Xhaka reveals he had to learn to keep his feet on the ground when tackling

He said: “With hindsight, you are a bit cleverer. There was a time in Germany where I got lots of yellow cards and some reds.

“I analysed the cards — and some were not so necessary. I analysed that a lot when I came here.


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“The two red cards playing in my first season here, one I understand against Swansea, one against Burnley less so. But I need to accept that.

“I don’t think now that football in England is softer than I thought before. I still think it’s tough and you see that every weekend.”

One of the things Xhaka worked on was the timing of his tackles after getting some welcome advice from boss Arsene Wenger.

 Granit Xhaka ruffled feathers when he took on big rivals Tottenham

PA:Empics Sport

Granit Xhaka ruffled feathers when he took on big rivals Tottenham

The Frenchman had him looking at videos of various tackles and worked with him on the training ground.

Wenger specifically wanted him to stay on his feet when tackling and that adjustment has worked wonders.

Xhaka said: “You need these small tips. I’ve been here for more than a year and learned a lot from him, specifically on the mental side.

“The boss has done a lot. I’m a hard-working young man who believes in myself. I don’t think I’ve reached my limit yet — I can still learn a lot. He’s made changes, like to the system.

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“It’s important for a manager to have players who can do that. I think, when a manager has been at a club for more than 20 years, he can only have a positive impact.”

Arsenal’s victory over Spurs was the perfect response after losing against Manchester City.

But Wenger knows that Burnley present a very different challenge today.

 Arsene Wenger has helped Granit Xhaka drastically reduce his card count

Reuters

Arsene Wenger has helped Granit Xhaka drastically reduce his card count

The Clarets are equal with Arsenal on 22 points. The Gunners are ahead of Burnley on most of the stats, including running, although Sean Dyche’s team get a lot more blocks in than Arsenal and have conceded just nine goals compared to the Gunners’ 16.

Wenger said: “Every game gives you a different problem to sort out, to find a strategic solution to be efficient.

 Granit Xhaka says the Premier League is as tough as he thought it would be

Getty – Contributor

Granit Xhaka says the Premier League is as tough as he thought it would be

“Burnley are a team who maybe play a bit deeper than Tottenham because they have a strong defensive efficiency.

“You have to keep your nerve, even if you have the ball, to be calm and accurate.

You have to be defensively strong as well because they are very efficient going forward.”

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