Xhaka reflects on ‘painful day’ for Arsenal as Arteta’s men chase Newcastle revenge

Xhaka reflects on ‘painful day’ for Arsenal as Arteta’s men chase Newcastle revenge

Granit Xhaka believes Arsenal are growing in confidence but thinks they will need some «luck» to win against Newcastle United.

The Gunners saw their first four hopes crushed by the Magpies last season and could see their title challenge put to rest should they drop points at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Newcastle were on top during this period last year and celebrated their last home game of the season with a win against lowly Arsenal side.

Both teams have come a long way since then and Sunday’s meeting promises to be very positive.

Reflecting on last year’s 2-0 defeat, Xhaka told Arsenal’s official website: ‘It was a very painful day, I hope we are a different team now.

«We’re in a different position too – we have respect for Newcastle because what they’re doing is fantastic and nobody would have expected that from them, but maybe [the same for] us too before the season.

“We know how strong they are, they are stronger than last season, that’s for sure. At home, when we played against them, we had better chances and were the better team, but they are very organised.

“They too know exactly what they are doing with a great manager and we have to be 100% focused. Let’s hope that with luck, with our intensity and with our level, we can beat them.»

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Arsenal were favorites to win the Premier League last month but relinquished their lead after drawing against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, before a heavy defeat away to title rivals and defending champions Manchester City.

Mikel Arteta’s side managed to bounce back with an emphatic 3-1 win against Chelsea on Tuesday, and Xhaka believes there is still confidence in the squad.

«To be honest, it’s crazy how quickly football can change,» he said.

“After the four games we haven’t won maybe the confidence has dropped a bit but then you have a great chance to play against Chelsea and show a reaction and I think the reaction has been very good.

“Immediately, the next day we see that confidence has returned but it’s only the first step after the four games we haven’t won. We hope to be able to do it for the next four games as well.”

Xhaka also reflected on his position change. He had previously played as a deep midfielder, but this season he has excelled in a box-to-box role.

«It wasn’t easy for me in the beginning when I needed to change my position,» he said. “I had never played there before in my career but had a great conversation with Mikel about it.

“Step by step, game by game, everything got better. I started scoring and started getting assists and showing that I can play a different role.»

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