Wenger 'concerned' by hothead Xhaka

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has admitted that he is concerned by Granit Xhaka's disciplinary record as Arsenal approach tomorrow's derby at home against Tottenham.

The 24-year-old Swiss midfielder has picked up eight red cards for club and country since April 2014 and is returning from a domestic suspension following his dismissal in last month's 3-2 win over Swansea.

With Santi Cazorla likely to remain sidelined with an achilles problem, Xhaka is in line to play in the fixture for the first time.

"Am I bit concerned? Yes, of course," the Arsenal manager said when asked if Xhaka's record was an issue.

"The discipline is important and we want to be effective in all situations we face. In the derby it is important to keep control of your reaction and to have a strong discipline, because it is part of the effectiveness in these games.

"Normally he is a very composed and calm guy. Sometimes on the field he has a reaction that is a bit impulsive and he knows that. It is not because you talk about that. He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game."

Wenger also said he considers this encounter with Tottenham to be "more than the derby" as his Arsenal side seek to prove they are serious title contenders.

November has in recent seasons proved to be a difficult month for them. But after starting it with a comeback 3-2 Champions League win at Ludogorets, Wenger is confident he can reverse that trend.

"It's a big home game for us and we have an opportunity to show we have an interesting role to play in this Premier League," he said. "We have a chance to show we can win these kind of games."

Last year Arsenal took only two league points in the month of November, but Wenger denied that his side's past record at this stage of the season is a concern.

"No, it's exciting," he said. "We have an opportunity to show that we are ready for a challenge like that, to show that we can do better than we have done historically."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger 'concerned' by hothead Xhaka'. Print Edition | Subscribe