Granit Xhaka: Arsenal must show character of Chelsea win in ‘six finals’

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·3-min read
Granit Xhaka: Arsenal must show character of Chelsea win in ‘six finals’
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Granit Xhaka has told his Arsenal team-mates they must maintain the character and spirit displayed to beat Chelsea if they are to achieve their dream of qualifying for the Champions League.

Arsenal stunned the Blues at Stamford Bridge last night, winning 4-2 to breathe life into their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Mikel Arteta’s side are currently fifth but are now level on points with Tottenham in fourth, who they will face next month in what looks like a defining north London derby.

Arsenal went into last night’s match on the back of three defeats in the row, but Eddie Nketiah scored twice and Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe also got on the scoresheet to inspire them to victory.

“We are there now again. We have six final games and the next one is Manchester United on Saturday,” said Xhaka.

“We have to show the same character, the same spirit. We want to take the three points, we want to keep it [going] at home.

“The last three games were very disappointing for us, with zero points after three games. It is not what we wanted, but what we wanted was to show a reaction today and I think, over 90 minutes, we deserved to win the game today.

“It was a great team performance, tactically amazing, and it was a big three points for us.

“When we had the ball we were good and created good chances to score maybe one or two more, but in the end we take the three points like this.

“It was a big game for us, for the fans, for the club, a derby. To win today, like this, we are very happy.”

London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea played out an entertaining contest, with the first-half particularly chaotic. Twice Arsenal led through Nketiah and Smith Rowe, but on both occasions Chelsea pegged them back thanks to Timo Werner and Cesar Azpilicueta.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The visitors showed more stability in the second-half and, after Nketiah scored just before the hour mark, Saka wrapped up the win late on by scoring his first penalty since missing from the spot in the final of Euro 2020 last summer.

“When I saw that Bukayo took it, honestly, my first thing that I thought was back in the summer and what happened,” said Arteta.

“But again, I said to you guys, when that happened to Bukayo, that happened for a reason and he learned so much and he matured so much, that’s why he’s having the season that he’s had.

“For him to have to the courage to say ‘I’m going to take it again’ because I’m sure it was in the back of his mind, for me it’s ‘chapeau’ even if he had missed it.”

Arsenal are next in action on Saturday, when they host sixth-placed Manchester United, and Nketiah says confidence is high now.

“We want to push and give everything these last six weeks or however long is left and I think we’re right in race and we believe in ourselves,” he said.

“We want to do it for the fans, so we’re going to give it our all until the end of the season.”

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