Arsenal continued their resurgence under Mikel Arteta against Norwich City on Boxing Day.
While the 2021/22 season might have been a rollercoaster of emotions for the Gunners, there’s no denying that their recent purple patch is a positive indicator of their future under the Spaniard.
And although beating basement-club Norwich might not be something to write home about on paper, it’s the way that Arsenal swept away the Canaries that was particularly note-worthy.
Norwich 0-5 Arsenal
Not only was the game played at Carrow Road, but Arteta’s men notched home five unanswered goals with Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette all scoring.
From front to back, Arsenal looked like a side that meant business under Arteta’s stewardship and Granit Xhaka put in a more than capable display across 90 minutes in the heart of midfield.
Xhaka vs Norwich
If anything, it’s a huge compliment to Arsenal’s output against Norwich that Xhaka was actually the lowest-rated starter for the visitors on SofaScore despite barely putting a foot wrong.
The Swiss midfielder won two aerial duels and one ground duel, completed both of his long balls and found the intended target with 58 of his 62 passes overall for a 94% completion rate.
However, by far our favourite moment from Xhaka in East Anglia came when he delivered one of the most unnecessary skills that we’ve seen in the Premier League because it was simply brilliant.
Xhaka’s amazingly unnecessary skill
Receiving a switched pass on the left flank, Xhaka allowed the ball to bounce before taking the inexplicable decision to control the delivery in the most gratuitous manner you could imagine.
Instead of, well, putting the ‘foot’ in football by controlling the ball as you’d expect, Xhaka brightened up all of our days by using his back and creating one of our favourite clips of 2021 in the process.
So, be sure to unwrap the belated Christmas present you never knew that Santa had left you by checking out Xhaka flashing his six-star skills at Carrow Road down below:
You know when you just randomly whip out skill moves on FIFA despite having an acre of space? Yeh, that.
So unneeded, we love it
We have no idea what was going through Xhaka’s head when he whipped out the back control – Did he see his name in lights? Is he a secret FIFA Street fan? – but boy are we glad that he did.
And I guess when you’re pulling the strings in the middle of a 5-0 victory, you can perhaps get away with a cheeky piece of skill that would have ended in a roasting on Twitter had it gone wrong.
After all, Xhaka is received a little harshly by certain sections of fans at the best of times, so just imagine how conceding a goal from his controlling the ball with his back would have gone down…