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Arsene Wenger compares Granit Xhaka to Emmanuel Petit

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After their first two Premier League games yielded nothing but frustration, Arsenal finally got their season going with an impressive 3-1 victory over Watford.

For most of the summer, Arsenal have been snubbed by their top transfer targets, leaving Arsene Wenger to hastily rush through a couple of last minute deals before the window closes.

But their first piece of summer business, Granit Xhaka, is beginning to put his own stamp on the team and it has left his new manager mightily impressed.

Arsenal's midfield has often been criticised for lacking that bite or edge that is now considered a requirement in any title-winning side but Xhaka's performances so far suggest he can be the missing piece of the jigsaw.

The Swiss international set an unwanted record of not winning a single tackle from his six attempts and committing four fouls on his debut against Liverpool but he has quickly adapted to the rigours of the Premier League since.

And Wenger is so excited about the £30 million signing that he has compared Xhaka to one old club hero.

After their 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday, Wenger was quick to highlight his new star midfielder.

He said: “He is a guy who plays naturally behind the ball. He is a bit similar to (Emmanuel) Petit in the way he plays football.

“He likes to sit, give good long balls and be available with the centre-backs.

“I believe he has a good mixture of short and long balls, in midfield it is important for us to sometimes stretch the opposition defenders."

Wenger's point is certainly a valid one. Not since he had the luxury of picking Petit and Patrick Vieira in the middle of midfield has an Arsenal side had enough steel and character to drag the team through adversity and come out with points on the other side.

However, Xhaka has already shown enough to prove he can fill the shoes of Petit and co. this season.

His variety in passing and defensive ability can turn the Gunners into a different animal and vindicates Wenger's initial desire to sign him last December.

Wenger added: “We tried in December last year. We saw he has a good engine, good stature, he is good in the air and has a good balance in his game, he has a good short ball and a good long ball.

“He is 24-years-old, he has already experience abroad and that is always a problem and is more reassuring when a player has already played abroad somewhere."

“He was captain at his age at Monchengladbach, that is not a small club so he has leadership qualities.”

Many players have come and gone since Petit left Arsenal in 2000 but no one has been able to fill the Frenchman's boots, until now. If Xhaka can maintain his current form, Wenger's title ambitions will be taken a lot more seriously, that's for sure.

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Granit Xhaka
Premier League
Arsene Wenger

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