Keown has praised the Swiss international
Arsenal’s week went from good to great as they defeated the Red Devils on home soil on Saturday. The win came after their 4-2 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 20 April. Mikel Arteta’s side put in a dominating display in midfield and sealed their victory courtesy of Xhaka’s left-footed screamer in the 70th minute.
Xhaka has often been criticized by the Gunners’ fans for his performances and attitude on the pitch. He was heavily booed after throwing his shirt and the captain’s armband with it on the floor after being subbed off against Crystal Palace in 2019.
However, against Manchester United, he delivered the kind of performance that is expected of him, but rarely delivered. Xhaka was flawless for the most part as he helped the midfield tick. He also whipped in some good longballs and crosses and made a couple of important interceptions.
Speaking after the game about Xhaka, Keown said on BT Sport (via HITC):
“There have been a lot of misgivings on this player, and I’ve been very critical of him. Two and a half years ago, 60,000 people booed him off here, but he just won’t go away. He stood up today and scored this and it turned the game.”
Few or rather no players would come to mind who have been as polarizing as Xhaka in recent Arsenal history. Despite his mistakes, his red cards and the occasional fallout with the fans, the Gunners’ team functions better on the pitch with the Swiss international playing.
Nuno Tavares and Bukayo Saka scored the other two goals for Arsenal as Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal for Manchester United.
Arsenal midfielder Xhaka loves scoring against Manchester United
Some players have a habit of turning up for big games against some of their biggest rivals on most days. Granit Xhaka must really love facing the Red Devils at the Emirates, or at least the records say so. The midfielder has scored in Arsenal’s home games against Manchester United in the 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons.
Interestingly, all those goals have been scored from outside the box. There was some debate around Xhaka’s goal against Ralf Rangnick’s side today. There was an argument that Eddie Nketiah, standing in an offside position, was blocking David de Gea’s view. However, Victor Lindelof was also seen partially blocking his goalkeeper’s view and the goal was allowed to stand after a VAR check.