Position change may not be one-off hints Mikel Arteta

When the Arsenal team for the game against Sheffield United was announced, most assumed Bukayo Saka would lineup at left-back but everyone was surprised to see Granit Xhaka there instead.

Granit Xhaka has previously been deployed in the centre of Arsenal’s defence but many were surprised to see him line-up in Kieran Tierney’s vacated slot as the Gunners got ready to face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday in the Premier League.

Finishing the game with a Fotmob rating of 7.3, Xhaka did well, although the calibre of opposition should also be considered.

Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta hinted that it wasn’t just a temporary fix in the absence of any other choice due to injuries.

“I thought it worked really well,” Arteta told Arsenal.com. “Obviously we need some work on that and I have the feeling that Granit can develop into a really good full back for what we require in certain games to do.

“We prepared it for this opponent and as well with the players we have available, and at the moment we’re missing five or six big players. We had to adapt some positions and I believe it was the right choices.”

This isn’t the first time Xhaka has played at left-back during his time at Arsenal.

Unai Emery deployed him there during the 18/19 season (against Sporting CP and Crystal Palace).

About the game itself, Arteta added, “We had a really strong performance. A clean sheet which was needed after a long run without it. We were very efficient, intelligent and composed with the ball, which I am very pleased with.

“We showed dedication, understanding and it was the right attitude so overall, I’m very happy.

“A win always brings confidence, better spirits, better atmosphere and better energy and we’ll need all that on Thursday to go through.”

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