For many Arsenal fans, the title of dubbing a player the “new Patrick Vieira ” has become a sense of urgency rather than credibility after a set of performances. The tag has been slapped on numerous players by Arsenal fans in pure hope, practically since the day the midfield enforcer left for Juventus in 2005.
In the search for a replacement for their iconic captain, many have come, gone, or just failed to live up to expectations: Alex Song , Lassana Diarra , Emmanuel Frimpong and, of course, Abou “treatment table” Diaby , to name but a few.
But in Granit Xhaka – an imminent £30m arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach – they may have finally found the man to add serious steel to the Gunners’ midfield.
Only two players committed more fouls this past season than Granit Xhaka (73) in the German top flight:
Bundesliga 2015-16: fouls conceded
While only one player has earned more red cards than Xhaka (five) over the last three seasons in Europe’s top five leagues (England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France):
Red cards in Europe’s top five leagues (August 2013-present)
Of these, THREE came in this season alone! Starting to get flashbacks with all-action Vieira and his regular dealings with referees in his earlier Arsenal days, Gooners? Thought so.
His stats also make remarkable reading when compared to the Gunners’ current options in midfield. Xhaka’s 73 fouls this season came in 28 appearances; Francis Coquelin conceded 24 fouls in 26 appearances and Aaron Ramsey 47 in 31 outings.
His tackles won ratio (79%) will also please fans, as it ranks very favourably against the likes of Coquelin (79%), Ramsey (76%), Flamini (65%), Elneny (80%) and Cazorla (82%).
Granit’s impressive going forward, too: he created 22 goalscoring chances this season – with one being converted – and 85% of his 2,316 passes were completed. His shooting accuracy came in at 48% – more than Coquelin (0%), Ramsey (46%), Flamini (40%), Elneny (40%) and Cazorla (44%).
So, whisper it quietly, Gooners – but you could be looking at the genuine new Patrick Vieira, at long last…