Ian Wright thinks Granit Xhaka was ‘very fortunate’ to start for Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday, as he told Premier League Productions (26/09/21 at 4:20 pm).
After returning from suspension, Xhaka was thrown straight back into the starting XI by his manager, despite Arsenal picking up three wins in all competitions without him.
But Mikel Arteta’s call to bring back the marmite-like figure was a genius move because he was key in his side securing all three points at the Emirates.
Xhaka did pick up a yellow card during the game, before hobbling off, and in truth, he could have been booked a second time after some questionable challenges from the player.
But when it comes to derby day, those types of tackles and aggressive nature is fine, because the fans love it.
When Wright was told that, since Xhaka joined Arsenal, every single manager has picked him for a North London derby when available, this is what the Highbury legend had to say.
“He is very fortunate to get back into the side,” said Wright. “I quite liked it before with Partey, Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe.
“Like you say, and we have seen, all the managers pick him (for North London derbies).”
Arsenal face-off against Brighton next and this will be a much tougher challenge than Tottenham.
On paper, the Spurs fixture is bigger, more intense, more pressure and aggressive, for obvious reasons.
But, by the time the Gunners travel down to the South Coast on Saturday evening, then they may well be taking on the Premier League table-toppers.
Graham Potter’s side will go top of the tree if they can beat their own bitter rivals – Crystal Palace – at Selhurst Park on Monday night.
And if Arteta’s men can inflict a defeat on the Seagulls, with Ben White returning to familiar soil, then it would be another progressive step by the club.