Football

Granit Xhaka had to cover for Arsenal's injuries .

Arsenal fans made their feelings known about Granit Xhaka playing as a left-back vs Sporting

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Arsenal travelled to their Europa League encounter with Sporting Lisbon riding a huge wave of optimism.

The Gunners have now won their last 11 games in all competitions, scoring 31 goals in the process - and it's the first time in 11 years they've managed that.

Unai Emery's plans look to be coming together very quickly thanks to Danny Welbeck's winner. Most fans were willing to give the Spaniard time in the knowledge that replacing Arsene Wenger was always going to be a difficult job.

However, it already looks like he has got his side playing the way he wants and, barring defeats in the opening two games of the season, results have been excellent too.

The trip to Portugal represented a tough ask, nonetheless, in spite of Sporting's ongoing off-field difficulties. To make matters worse, the north Londoners also had to cope with a slightly depleted squad.

Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal all missed out, though Sokratis did make his return.

Those defensive shortages forced Emery to experiment with Granit Xhaka at left-back.

Now, the Swiss international divides Arsenal fans at the best of times, even when he's playing in his preferred position of central midfield.

Arsenal fans give their verdict 

The 26-year-old gave the ball away several times in the first half and it looked as though the Primeira Liga side were trying to exploit him down the wing.

It's understandable that he struggled in his new position, but Arsenal fans weren't impressed:

Xhaka also ended up being used as a full-back towards the end of the 3-1 win over Leicester, so perhaps this has been in the pipeline for a few days.

Why was Xhaka playing there? 

"We have now two left-backs injuries, [Sead] Kolasinac and Nacho [Monreal]," Emery explained before kick-off on BT Sport.

Unai Emery was forced to shuffle the pack after the Leicester win

"We can use maybe [Stephan] Lichtsteiner as a left-back or another thing we are trying is playing with Xhaka.

"They have quality with the left foot to progress with the passes and I want to try this option."

The Europa League is a good place to experiment, particularly as Arsenal are in good health in the competition following comfortable wins against Vorskla and Qarabag. 

How far do you think Arsenal can go in the Europa League? Have your say in the comments. 

Topics:
Europa League
Football
Unai Emery
Granit Xhaka
Arsenal

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