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    5. Granite Xhaka's chaotic journey to Arsenal ends well


    Granite Xhaka's chaotic journey to Arsenal ends well

    Granita Xhaku was made fun of and loved on the Emirates. at Arsenal in the summer of 2016 when the club had just finished second in the Premier League. He is expected to leave in the summer of 2023 after they just finished second in the Premier League.

    Based on these two images alone, the uninformed observer might assume that little has changed at the Emirates Stadium in these seven years. At the most simplistic level, one could say that Xhaka is leaving the club as he found it.

    Clearly, that would be a gross misinterpretation. These were wild years at Arsenal, a club that hasn't competed in the Champions League since 2017, and no player embodies the chaotic journey better than Xhaka, a midfielder who has arguably endured more turmoil – collective and personal. — than any other in Arsenal's recent history.

    In many ways, the history of Arsenal since 2016 is the history of Xhaka. The two go hand in hand and since he played his last game for the club, it seemed only fitting that he was the one to hit the headlines again. By scoring two goals in the first half, he made sure that this Sunday in May will forever be remembered as his day.

    There was a time, not so long ago, when it looked like Xhaka was destined to leave Arsenal through the back door. Now, assuming his move to Bayer Leverkusen is completed as expected, he could take the lead with his head held high as fans sing his name.

    The fact that Xhaka is leaving on a positive note is an achievement in itself, considering how painful the falls have been over the last few years of his professional life. After being stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery in 2019, there was no turning back, but his relationship with the club and fans was restored from ruins.

    All the smiles of Granit Xhaka in May prove his last appearance at Arsenal. Credit: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

    Mikele Arteta did not confirm that Xhaka was leaving, but said: “He had an incredible season. A year ago I was talking to him and I told him: “You have a question mark on you, you should show more, you should be better, I suggest you play here.”

    “He came back and I think he started training the next day. He's back in pre-season four pounds lighter, fit and really ready for it. He was exceptional. I'm so glad everyone appreciates what he's done.”

    It's a testament to Xhaka's resilience and importance to Arteta over the past three years that he received such an enthusiastic send-off on this last day's walk past the selfless Wolves .

    The Swiss midfielder's song was the first to be sung by the home fans, and that applause only got louder when he struck first. It was a rare headline from the exact cross of Gabriel Jesus, followed by a celebration that had clear emotional significance.

    More details followed just three minutes later, when Martin Odegaard's attempt deviated from Xhaka's path. This time he celebrated in the dugout, where longtime teammate Mohamed Elneni (currently injured) was waiting for a hug.

    Remarkably, Xhaka could even score a hat-trick in the first half. Perhaps, knowing how stupid it would be, he threw his punches terribly wide.

    For the rest of the day, almost every touch of Xhaka was met with shouts of “shoot” from the fans. He resisted the urge, instead allowing his teammates to join him on the protocol for this beating of the Wolves.

    Julen Lopetegui's team was long out of this campaign. Bukayo Saka scored Arsenal's third goal by cutting through the inside and rolling into the far corner before Jesus added a fourth header in the back post from a Leandro Trossar cross after half-time.

    New player Jakub Kivior scored the fifth before There were about 10 minutes left of the game when he converted a semi-selected set piece, but the moment that could be enjoyed in the second half was the substitution of Xhaka. The Emirates Stadium rose like one to greet the departing midfielder and many fans even begged him to stay, which was indeed the ultimate proof of how far he had come in his frantic journey at the club.

    Line-ups Aston Villa – Brighton

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