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The Stats That Show How Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka Ran The Show Against Watford

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal in action during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on August 27, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Arsenal earned their first win of the new Premier League season in style this afternoon with a 3-1 win against Watford.

An early Santi Cazorla penatly settled any lingering nerves for the away side, particularly as they had entered the game at Vicarage Road with a draw and defeat behind them, and further strikes from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil put the tie beyond doubt.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Younes Kaboul of Watford (L) and Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (R) battle for possession during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on August 27, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Not even a consolation goal from Watford’s new signing Roberto Pereyra could spoil the atmosphere in the away end, particularly with the news that new signings Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Pérez are due to officially join the Gunners in the next 24-48 hours.

However, it was another new signing that gave Arsenal a reason to be cheerful this afternoon, as Swiss international Granit Xhaka produced his best performance for the side so far in midfield.

His passing and work rate were top notch this afternoon as he was at the heart of everything the Arsene Wenger’s side did right, showing exactly why the manager paid Gladbach £30m for his services.

The 23-year-old had a pass completion rate of 87.3%, showed great awareness in the tackle, always looked for the incisive pass, and handled the transition between attack and defence extremely well.

The side has been crying out for a midfield enforcer since the days of Patrick Vieira, and while it’s far too soon to hail Xhaka as the Frenchman’s natural successor, the signs so far have been very promising.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Troy Deeney of Watford controls the ball infront of Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on August 27, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

His performance has been widely praised, and not just from Arsenal fans either (though obviously they were ecstatic with their new player’s display):

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal tackles Valon Behrani of Watford during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on August 27, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

An interesting part of today’s showing from Xhaka is how well he worked with Cazorla next to him in the midfield.

The Spaniard was not really thought of by Wenger as a someone would would be an automatic first-choice pick, particularly with such strong competition for those central midfield spots, but the duo’s partnership today may force the manager to do a bit of reassessment.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.