Granit Xhaka has detailed his happiness at Arsenal and says the club have "something special planned" as they continue their fine campaign.

A comeback victory over West Ham on Boxing Day extended the Gunners' unbeaten run in the Premier League to nine games, with Mikel Arteta's side dropping just five points so far this term and holding a five-point lead at the top of the table.

The club have exceeded expectations with an improbable push for Premier League glory, and are reportedly eyeing further additions in the January transfer window in their bid to clinch a league title for the first time since 2004.

Xhaka has played an integral role in Arsenal's success this term, creating 22 chances and contributing four assists in 15 appearances, and has teased the club have "something special" up their sleeves.

"Of course, I'm happy that we're on a very good path at Arsenal," he told Keystone-SDA.

"I feel completely at ease and enjoy an enormous amount of confidence there. We have something special planned in London.

"We discussed everything [with Arteta about the World Cup], yes. He can read me like nobody else.

"Mikel knows what it's like to be down. He felt how hurt I was by the way I was eliminated [in Qatar]. But there are so many other challenges and tournaments. I will take those on."

The Gunners round off 2022 with a trip to face Brighton and Hove Albion, before hosting fellow high-fliers Newcastle United three days later.

Granit Xhaka admits it is a huge blow for Arsenal to lose Gabriel Jesus to injury but is confident the Gunners can compete in his absence, offering his support to likely replacement Eddie Nketiah.

Jesus suffered a knee injury in Brazil's World Cup loss to Cameroon, ruling him out of the remainder of the tournament and leading to surgery – with the expectation he will face two to three months out.

It hands Mikel Arteta a huge blow ahead of the Gunners' resumption of their Premier League title push on Boxing Day, with the former Manchester City forward quickly establishing himself as an integral member of the squad.

While Jesus faces an extended period out, Xhaka believes it is a "small injury" for him to cope with and vowed to support his teammate in his recovery.

"I spoke with him straight after the Cameroon game. We have the contact between each other, with all the players we have here in the World Cup," he told reporters.

"It's a shame because you saw in the first round of the Premier League how important he is for us. I don't know how big the injury is, maybe two or three months, I think.

"But he is a strong guy. It’s a small injury for him I think, and we will support him. He knows that we are behind him and hopefully we can get him back as quick as possible."

Jesus' injury could see Arsenal turn to Nketiah to lead the line.

Nketiah is yet to score in 12 substitute appearances in the Premier League this term but finished the last campaign strongly, earning a fresh contract after scoring five goals in the final seven top-flight matches.

Xhaka believes Nketiah has the capability to fill the void in the Gunners' attack and is "looking forward" to helping the 23-year-old in the months ahead.

"We have the option with Eddie, of course. He showed great games as well in the past and we need to support Gabi first," he added.

"We need to support Eddie as well, because he will be a big, big part of the next two or three months. But I am looking forward because we have the quality to bring Eddie there and to help him.

Arsenal resume their Premier League campaign on Boxing Day with a London derby against West Ham at the Emirates Stadium.

Granit Xhaka found himself at the centre of another controversy involving Serbia after donning a shirt with 'Jashari' on the back following Switzerland’s 3-2 win in Doha on Friday.

Xhaka produced a man of the match display as the Swiss hit back from 2-1 down to secure second place in Group G and advance to a last-16 clash with Portugal on Tuesday.

But his actions after the final whistle could attract the attention of FIFA.

In the post-match celebrations, Xhaka put on a shirt carrying the name 'Jashari'. Asked afterwards what it meant, the Arsenal midfielder claimed it was for Switzerland squad member Ardon Jashari.

However, the name carries significance in other ways with Adem Jashari a late founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Kosovo Albanian separatist group that fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Xhaka is of ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 but has not been recognised by Serbia. 

Asked about the shirt afterwards, Xhaka said: "There’s no political background to it whatsoever.

"Ardon is part of our squad and we spend a lot of time together. I told him if we won I would wear his shirt."

Xhaka was a key figure throughout a feisty encounter. He also prompted a second-half melee that saw the Serbia bench encroach on to the pitch after making a crude gesture, thought to be in the direction of substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, whose personal life has been the subject of speculation this week.

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin said he will "wait and see" if action is taken against Xhaka.

"We will enjoy this moment, it cost us a lot of emotions and energy. It was a fair match," he said.

"Before the game a lot of people were talking about the situation but we were able to face that challenge.

"We are happy we are moving on. Everything else is speculation and we will wait and see."

On the incident involving Rajkovic, Yakin added: "What I saw was a Granit Xhaka who was focused fully on football and performed very well. I saw the players from Serbia crossing the line, and others trying to calm them down. It was a normal exchange."

It is not the first time Xhaka has been embroiled in controversy against Serbia. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he and Xherdan Shaqiri were fined after crossing their hands to mimic the eagle displayed on the Albanian flag in Switzerland’s 2-1 win.

Shaqiri also played his part in Switzerland's victory here, scoring the opening goal at Stadium 974, but appeared annoyed to be taken off after 69 minutes.

"No-one likes to be subbed," Yakin said. "Every player wants to play the whole game, but it’s part of my responsibility to protect players. He scored his goal and had a great assist.

"The substitutes brought great energy and I thought they did well."

The flashpoints overshadowed a wonderful game with Switzerland’s greater composure at key moments proving decisive.

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic praised his players but lamented the fact so many were struggling for fitness throughout their time in Qatar. He also insisted he had no intention of resigning.

He said: "We are not happy with the result but, given the problems we faced from our arrival here and the injuries we had to contend with, it was too much for us to cope with.

"The guys put up a fight but at this level that is not enough.

"As for my future, in March we start the qualifiers for the European Championship and we have a great desire to qualify."

Stojkovic claimed not to hear any of the chants that prompted an announcement over the public address system asking fans to refrain from discriminatory songs or gestures, thought to originate from sections housing Serbian supporters.

Yann Sommer's return from injury provided a boost for Switzerland as they announced their 26-man squad for the FIFA World Cup.

The Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper, who suffered an ankle injury in a DFB-Pokal defeat to Darmstadt three weeks ago, is one of four goalkeepers named in Murat Yakin’s squad, with concerns over the fitness of Sommer and Jonas Omlin.

Switzerland have named an experienced squad and will be hoping to build on their impressive performance at Euro 2020, which saw them defeat then-reigning champions France before losing on penalties to Spain in the quarter-finals.

Manchester City's Manuel Akanji and Newcastle United stalwart Fabian Schar make up an experienced centre-back combination, with Fulham’s right-back Kevin Mbabu a surprise absentee in defence.

Granit Xhaka will be looking to carry his fine early-season form with Arsenal into Qatar 2022, with the experienced midfielder selected alongside Chelsea's on-loan Denis Zakaria and new Nottingham Forest-signing Remo Freuler in the middle of the park.
 
Former Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who now plays for Chicago Fire, will feature in his fourth FIFA World Cup and will be looking to add to his 108 caps for the national side. 

Galatasaray forward Haris Seferovic, who has 25 goals for Switzerland, provides experience to a forward line that also boasts the talents of Breel Embolo and Salzburg youngster Noah Okafor.

In a statement, coach Yakin said: "We were spoilt for choice in some positions.

"Many players have delivered convincing performances in recent weeks and months. But in the end, I had to limit myself to 26 names. I'm convinced that these 26 players can always help us to achieve our goals."

Switzerland begin their difficult Group G campaign on November 24 against Cameroon before facing familiar opposition in Brazil and Serbia, who were both part of the Swiss' 2018 World Cup group.

Switzerland Squad: Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Kohn (Salzburg), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach); Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Eray Comert (Valencia), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Silvan Widmer (Mainz); Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Fabian Frei (Basel), Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest), Ardon Jashari (Lucerne), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea); Breel Embolo (Monaco), Noah Okafor (Salzburg), Haris Seferovic (Benfica, loan to Galatasaray), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg).

North London giants Tottenham and Arsenal endured frustrating outings as the Premier League saw more twists and turns on an action-packed Sunday.

Spurs' Champions League hopes suffered a blow as they were edged out by Newcastle United in the day's headline clash, with goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron helping the visitors to a 2-1 win.

That result saw Eddie Howe's side climb into the top four, and there was another surprise at the summit as leaders Arsenal were pegged back by Southampton in a 1-1 draw.

At the bottom of the table, meanwhile, Fulham increased the pressure on Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch and Leicester City leapfrogged Wolves by trouncing them 4-0 at Molineux.

Here, Stats Perform picks through the most interesting facts to emerge from Sunday's action.  

Tottenham 1-2 Newcastle United: Magnificent Magpies go fourth

Tottenham approached Sunday's match having won eight consecutive league games on home soil, but Newcastle seized the initiative with an outstanding first-half display to end that run and move within two points of Antonio Conte's team.

Hugo Lloris' bizarre error allowed Wilson to put Newcastle ahead, with the France captain hitting the deck as the striker lobbed into an unguarded net from range.

Wilson's goal was his first in the Premier League from outside the penalty area since January 2019 (for Bournemouth v West Ham), and just the second of his 65 goals in the competition to come from more than 18 yards out.

Newcastle were two goals ahead within 10 minutes of that strike, with Almiron scoring his fifth goal in his last five Premier League outings – as many as he had netted in his previous 61. 

While Harry Kane pulled one back after the break, Newcastle held on to ensure they went fourth after 12 games of the season – this is the latest point at which they have occupied such a lofty position since April 2012, when they sat fourth after 35 matches of the campaign.

Southampton 1-1 Arsenal: Armstrong denies Gunners four-point lead

Arsenal went to St Mary's looking to re-establish a four-point lead over Manchester City at the summit, but saw their run of 27 Premier League games without a draw halted as they slipped up.

Granit Xhaka converted Ben White's cross to put Arsenal ahead – with four goals this season in all competitions, Xhaka is enjoying his joint-best goalscoring campaign with the Gunners, and he has scored in back-to-back games for the club for just the second time (also in September 2016).

However, Stuart Armstrong replied with his first goal in 21 league games as the Saints fought back – each of his last seven Premier League goals have now come at St Mary's.

Arsenal were unable to find a late winner, meaning they dropped points after opening the scoring in a Premier League game for the first time since New Year's Day (1-2 v City), ending their run of 18 straight wins when scoring first.

Wolves 0-4 Leicester City: Lethal Foxes leapfrog sorry hosts

At Molineux, Wolves' nightmare campaign continued as a clinical Leicester side ran out 4-0 winners despite recording just five shots to their hosts' 21.

Wolves have now lost five of their last six Premier League games, failing to score four times during that run, and are enduring their worst ever goalscoring start to a season in the competition with just five goals in 12 games. 

Leicester took the lead through an incredible effort from Youri Tielemans, who picked out the top-left corner to score the Foxes' seventh goal from outside the penalty area this season – the most of any side in the Premier League.

Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy and James Maddison then added some gloss to the scoreline, with the latter doing his hopes of an England call-up no harm with another fine display.

Maddison has amassed 28 goal contributions in the Premier League since the start of last season, a tally only bettered by Kane (37) among English players.

Leeds United 2-3 Fulham: Pressure builds on Marsch as Willian shines

Leeds joined Wolves in the bottom three after Fulham dealt them a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat at Elland Road, piling more pressure on beleaguered boss Marsch. 

Leeds have collected nine points from their 11 games this season, their fewest at this stage of a campaign since 2003-04 (eight), when they went on to be relegated from the Premier League. 

Meanwhile, Fulham have posted back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since April 2019 under Scott Parker (a run of three), having failed to win consecutive matches at any point in their last top-flight season (in 2020-21).

Willian's 84th-minute strike ultimately proved decisive for Marco Silva's men, on the day the former Chelsea and Arsenal winger made his 264th Premier League appearance.

Among Brazilian players, only Manchester City great Fernandinho has appeared as often in the competition. 

Arsenal missed the chance to regain their four-point lead at the Premier League summit after Stuart Armstrong's second-half equaliser held the Gunners to a 1-1 draw at Southampton.

The Gunners had enjoyed their best start to a top-flight campaign and dominated the first half on Sunday at St. Mary's Stadium, with Granit Xhaka opening the scoring.

Arsenal continued to look good value for their lead, with Gabriel Jesus spurning a couple of chances, but Southampton fought back as Armstrong levelled in the 65th minute.

Martin Odegaard saw a late strike ruled out as Arsenal moved two points clear of second-placed Manchester City, while Southampton extended their unbeaten run to three games and climbed into 15th.

Gavin Bazunu denied a fizzing Xhaka drive and Odegaard whipped narrowly wide, though Arsenal's early dominance soon paid dividends after 11 minutes.

Ben White overlapped down the right and clipped in a low centre for Xhaka, who expertly fired into the roof of the net.

Jesus almost doubled the lead but blasted just wide and should have sent Arsenal in two goals ahead at half-time when he volleyed straight at Bazunu one-on-one following a smart Xhaka throughball.

A last-ditch Mohamed Elyounoussi thwarted Jesus after the interval before the midfielder teed up Armstrong at the other end, with the Scotland international sliding past Aaron Ramsdale.

Odegaard thought he had grabbed a late winner, only for the assistant to flag for a goal-kick after Kieran Tierney failed to keep the ball in play in the build-up.


What does it mean? In-form Gunners falter

Arsenal's failure to grind out wins was a regular flaw in recent seasons, yet they went some way to easing those concerns with some resolute performances in the nine victories from their opening 10 league games.

Mikel Arteta's side appeared set to earn yet another narrow triumph, though an underwhelming second-half showing – coupled with a lack of clinical finishing – saw them drop points for just the second time this season.

With Chelsea to follow in November and City showing no signs of relenting in their title pursuit, Arteta will be frustrated to drop points at Southampton, who had lost seven of their last 11 Premier League home games.

Great Granit

Xhaka's impressive form for the Gunners continued as the Switzerland international scored his fourth goal in all competitions this season, matching his best return for Arsenal in a single campaign.

The Gunners have never lost in 18 games when Xhaka has scored (W15 D3), though Arsenal will be frustrated to not leave the south coast with victory here.

Jesus fails to deliver

Jesus has been a leading figure within a new-look Arsenal side, blending his hard-work ethic with an eye for goal up top, though the Brazil international failed to fire for the Gunners at Southampton.

The forward attempted a game-high four shots but only found the target with one of those, squandering presentable opportunities in either half in a disappointing showing.

What's next?

Arsenal head to PSV in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Nottingham Forest on Sunday, while Southampton visit Crystal Palace the day before.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says qualification for the Europa League's knockout stages is simply "the first step" following their 1-0 win over PSV, with the Spaniard already focused on winning Group A.

Granit Xhaka's 70th-minute volley ensured the Gunners secured a top-two finish with two games to spare on Thursday, as they were rewarded for their patience against a solid opponent at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have now won their first four games of a Europa League campaign for just the second time, having also done so in 2020-21, and can seal first place with a draw in next week's return fixture against the Eredivisie giants.

With group winners earning a bye straight through to the competition's last-16 and avoiding further fixture congestion in the new year with a playoff round, Arteta knows the importance of finishing the job at hand.

"We had really good moments, and we were really dominant against a really good side," he told BT Sport.

"I think we just lacked that final pass or shot. But we're very happy to win the game, and we [have] qualified, which is the first step.

"In Europe, you have to control the opponent. They are very talented, used to winning and the amount of goals they have scored is incredible. We were really composed and mature.

"When you have the chance in Europe, you have to take it. The difference between finishing first and second is big, and we want to get the job done."

Meanwhile, Arsenal and England supporters were dealt a scare when Bukayo Saka went down in the second half, but Arteta eased any fears of an injury layoff, adding: "I think he will be okay."

After beating Walter Benitez to decide the contest, Xhaka has now scored as many goals this campaign (three) as in his previous three seasons combined, while Thursday's goal represented his first for the Gunners to not be scored with his left foot.

The midfielder highlighted the importance of Arsenal maintaining their momentum in his own post-match interview with BT Sport, saying: "I'm so happy the ball came, and happy I scored. 

"I don't know when I scored for the last time with the right foot, maybe it's the first in my career, but I'm so happy! It doesn't matter which foot, or who scores, as long as we keep winning.

"It gives us confidence and onto the next one. When you win games, you have to be happy. Everything is going well at the moment, but for us it is not a surprise, we're doing a lot of work. 

"In the end, you win and lose as a team and at the moment we are very dangerous. We wanted to go through after this game and we are very happy."

Granit Xhaka's volley ensured Arsenal secured qualification for the Europa League's knockout stages with two games to spare, firing the Gunners to a 1-0 home win over PSV.

Mikel Arteta selected a strong side as Arsenal looked to ensure their progression from Group A on Thursday, but PSV appeared likely to make them wait after producing a resolute defensive display.

Walter Benitez kept Arsenal at bay until the 70th minute, but Xhaka expertly diverted a right-wing delivery into the bottom-left corner to seal the hosts' progress.

While Arsenal are now assured of a place in the Europa League's knockout stages, a point in next week's return fixture will guarantee them top spot and a bye to the competition's round of 16.

Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus both dragged left-footed efforts wide as Arsenal laid siege to PSV's goal in the early exchanges, with Kieran Tierney also sending a wild volley over.

Fabio Vieira then whipped a free-kick wide of the bottom-left corner after 41 minutes, with Arteta's team failing to manage a shot on target before the break as PSV stood firm.

Arsenal improved after the restart, but Benitez made an excellent one-on-one save to deny Bukayo Saka after 53 minutes before turning Jesus' effort away following a slaloming run from the Brazilian.

Eddie Nketiah then smashed an effort narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

But just when Arsenal appeared to be running out of ideas, Xhaka had the final say.

The Switzerland international swivelled on Takehiro Tomiyasu's delivery to drill a right-footed effort beyond the dive of Benitez from just inside the area, ensuring Arsenal's progress.

Joao Felix is increasingly frustrated with life at Atletico Madrid after dropping out of the starting XI in recent games.

The 22-year-old Portuguese is yet to score for the side in LaLiga or the Champions League this season and was an unused substitute in the midweek 0-0 draw with Club Brugge.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone has preferred Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, Matheus Cunha and Angel Correa in attack recently.

 

TOP STORY – JOAO FELIX WANTS ATLETICO EXIT

Joao Felix has requested to leave Atletico Madrid in January, reports Fichajes.

The forward is frustrated that he has been used sparingly, largely outside the starting XI this term.

Joao Felix's contract runs until 2026 and it will likely require a hefty fee to sign him from Atleti, who paid €126 million for him in 2019.

Relevo claims that Atleti are not considering selling the Portuguese any time soon.

 

ROUND-UP

– ​ Frenkie de Jong is growing frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities at Barcelona and will look to exit the club in January should the situation not improve, claims SPORT. De Jong was at the centre of a drawn-out off-season saga, amid links to Manchester United.

Granit Xhaka will earn a contract extension at Arsenal, reports Football Insider. Xhaka, who is out of contract in 2024, has been in top form this term and will be rewarded after the World Cup.

Chelsea have an interest in RB Leipzig's Austria international midfielder Konrad Laimer, reports Bild. Laimer is out of contract at the end of this season and the Blues will look to sign him for free if he is not sold in January.

Chelsea along with Arsenal are now also keen on pursuing Rennes winger Jeremy Doku, claims Fichajes. The 20-year-old is already being chased by Liverpool, Napoli and Juventus.

– Bild also claims Chelsea are monitoring versatile Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard.

– The Telegraph reports Thomas Tuchel is interested in the England managerial role should Gareth Southgate depart after this year's World Cup. The German has reportedly declined two Premier League jobs since leaving Chelsea last month.

Football loves a redemption story, and it's fair to say Granit Xhaka is living one right now.

You don't have to cast your mind back too far to recall a time when the Switzerland international was practically persona non grata at Arsenal – in the fans' eyes, anyway.

Red cards, becoming a scapegoat, falling out with the supporters in the most public way imaginable: Xhaka's Arsenal career has rarely been straightforward.

And yet, as Mikel Arteta's Gunners prepare to make something of a title statement against Liverpool on Sunday, Xhaka knows his will be one of the first names on the team, and deservedly so.

It serves to highlight his unlikely return from the brink.

The problems

Xhaka arrived at Arsenal with a reputation as a clever but combative midfielder who was more than happy to get stuck in. After all, his five red cards in from the start of the 2013-14 season until the end of 2015-16 was the most of any Bundesliga player over that period, and only two players were booked more often (29).

There was an acceptance his style of play would be a risk, though many Gunners fans were adamant such forcefulness was missing from their midfield.

While Xhaka did show many qualities during his debut season, it was his disciplinary record and aggressive style that unsurprisingly defined him in the eyes of many, as he was shown three red cards across all competitions in the 2016-17 campaign.

He did then go three successive seasons without a red card, attributing his initial improvement in that area to Arsene Wenger back in November 2017, with video analysis seemingly crucial to the midfielder's learning. Though it should be said, he amassed 10 yellows in each of those three league campaigns, so it wasn't as if he suddenly became an angel.

The thing is, Xhaka's wild side may have been embraced or at least more readily forgiven were it not for his other on-pitch woes. Between August 2016 and September 2020, his 16 Opta-defined errors leading to shots were five more than any other Arsenal player across all competitions, while only Petr Cech and Bernd Leno (both seven) – goalkeepers, so you'd expect them to be punished more – committed a greater number of errors that led to goals (six).

Similarly, Xhaka's five penalty concessions over the same period was a joint-high at Arsenal with David Luiz. Essentially, there was a common perception emerging that he was liability even if he wasn't getting sent off.

The downfall

It was the last 12 months of the aforementioned four-year period when Xhaka's Arsenal days appeared numbered. In October 2019, exactly a month after being made captain, Xhaka was substituted during Crystal Palace's visit to the Emirates Stadium and a chorus of boos was aimed in his direction.

Xhaka made sarcastic gestures to the crowd in response, cupped his ear and then appeared to swear at the Arsenal fans as he was replaced by Bukayo Saka. He swiftly removed his jersey on his way down the tunnel.

Former Arsenal players and fans alike called for him to lose the captaincy after head coach Unai Emery suggested Xhaka shouldn't have reacted as he did.

On November 5, Arsenal confirmed Xhaka had been stripped of the armband and he didn't play again until the end of the month when the Gunners faced Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League – he had missed five games in all.

In the intervening period, Xhaka provided an explanation for his actions, detailing how months of abuse at matches and on social media had seen him reach "boiling point". He professed his love for the club and encouraged everyone to "move forward positively together".

Remarkably, that's what happened.

The redemption

It bears remembering, the atmosphere around Arsenal was toxic enough even without the Xhaka situation – December saw Emery replaced by Arteta, and the latter was unequivocal in his desire to keep Xhaka at the club.

A move to Hertha Berlin had been agreed, according to the player's agent, and that appeared to be the end. But, with the January 2020 transfer window only a day old, Arteta revealed Xhaka had assured him he was staying.

Six months later, Xhaka emphasised the importance of Arteta in that decision. He told BT Sport: "I was very, very close to leaving the club. I had, until this [Palace incident], had a great, great time in this football club. It was never in my mind to leave the club before, but after this happened, of course you think about it.

"When Mikel arrived, I had a very good meeting with him, very good conversations. Mikel was the guy. He turned me around and gave me a second chance, and he showed me he trusted me and I have tried to give him everything back."

Since then, he's steadily won back the faith of Arsenal fans and is arguably enjoying the finest spell of his Arsenal career. This season, he's already got two goals and three assists in eight Premier League games – only in 2018-19 (four) has he scored more goals in a single campaign for the Gunners, while only in 2017-18 has he provided more assists (seven).

So, to anyone wondering what's changed, the answer is fairly clear: Xhaka's playing a more advanced role and this is allowing his strengths – distribution, shooting – to shine. For much of his Arsenal career, he's been used as the deepest midfielder, but that's no longer the case with Thomas Partey the first choice in that role.

With more freedom to get forward, Xhaka's creating 2.2 chances from open play every 90 minutes (all comps.) – his previous best in that regard for Arsenal or Borussia Monchengladbach was 1.2. Granted, those were over full seasons, but that shouldn't detract from an obvious greater creative influence.

While he is making fewer tackles and interceptions than ever before, the fact only four midfielders have more than his five Premier League goal involvements this term suggests it's not a problematic sacrifice.

The Granit Xhaka most have known throughout his Premier League career was associated with work rate and destructive tendencies, but his current guise suggests he's not only enjoyed a redemption but a rebirth.

Gabriel Jesus is setting the standard that is driving Arsenal's early-season charge at the top of the Premier League, and he came up trumps in his first north London derby.

Arsenal's win over Tottenham came in Saturday's early game and was followed by plenty of drama later, as Liverpool were held by Brighton and Hove Albion in a rip-roaring match at Anfield featuring a Leandro Trossard hat-trick.

Newcastle United earned a second win of the season, brushing off Fulham at Craven Cottage, while Graham Potter's Chelsea had substitute Conor Gallagher to thank for their late winner at Crystal Palace.

With goals and drama in abundance, here Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data.

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham: Ton up for Kane, but it's Partey time for Arsenal after derby win

Harry Kane became the first Premier League player to reach 100 away goals in the competition, but that was scant consolation for Tottenham after this derby defeat.

Arsenal were able to celebrate a third successive home league win over Spurs – the first time that has happened since 2013 – and they are unbeaten at home in this fixture for 12 games now (W8 D4).

It was a win to savour for Arsenal, with Thomas Partey's opening goal rounding off a 21-pass move, going down as the Gunner's sixth goal since December 26, 2019 to have come from a sequence of 20 or more passes. Only Liverpool and Manchester City have had more in that time. 

Jesus restored the Gunners' lead after Kane's penalty brought Spurs level, with Arsenal's close-season signing from City having managed five goals and three assists already in the Premier League. Only Erling Haaland (12) has had more goal involvements in the early weeks of this season.

It fell to Granit Xhaka to put the seal on the win, after Emerson Royal was sent off. The Arsenal midfielder grabbed his second Premier League goal of the season, with this the first campaign where he has managed more than one league strike since he netted four times in the 2018-19 season.

Liverpool 3-3 Brighton and Hove Albion: Trossard heroics stun Reds

Leandro Trossard became just the third opposing player to score a Premier League hat-trick at Anfield, joining former Coventry City winger Peter Ndlovu and ex-Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin in that curious club. Arshavin famously hit four in a 4-4 draw in April 2009, the highest-scoring Premier League draw at Liverpool's home ground.

Saturday's feat meant Belgium international Trossard became the first Brighton player to score a Premier League hat-trick, and it left Liverpool four points behind the Seagulls after seven games each, with this game quite the baptism for new boss Roberto De Zerbi.

Liverpool have just two wins from seven games, and they were thankful for Roberto Firmino's sharp finishing as he scored twice, taking his tally for the season to five Premier League goals, all coming at Anfield. He scored five across the 2021-22 season, all away from home.

Mohamed Salah remains stuck on two goals in this campaign but he marked his 200th Premier League appearance with a 50th assist when he set up Firmino to trim Brighton's lead to 2-1 in the first half. Salah becomes just the third African player to reach 50 assists in the competition, after Didier Drogba (55) and Riyad Mahrez (51).

 

Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea: Gallagher returns to rock Eagles

Conor Gallagher came off the bench to deliver a 90th-minute knockout blow with Chelsea's winner against the side they loaned him to last season.

It meant Crystal Palace's losing run against Chelsea extended to 10 Premier League matches, and also boosted the Blues' record to nine wins in their last 10 away London derbies against all teams.

New Chelsea boss Graham Potter watched on in his first Premier League game since joining from Brighton, and he saw former Barcelona and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang mark his league debut for the visitors with a first-half equaliser. Aubameyang also scored in his first game for Arsenal (against Everton in February 2018).

Odsonne Edouard's opener in the seventh minute was the earliest goal Chelsea have conceded in a Premier League away game since January 2021, when Wilfred Ndidi scored for Leicester City in the sixth minute.

Fulham 1-4 Newcastle United: Magpies take flight thanks to Almiron's capital double

Miguel Almiron had been Newcastle's home boy of late, with his last seven Premier League goals coming at St James' Park, so Saturday's double at Craven Cottage bucked a trend.

A fine volley followed by a close-range finish from the Paraguayan helped Newcastle to their joint-biggest victory under Eddie Howe in the Premier League (also 3-0 vs Norwich City in April), and a biggest league win in London since beating Fulham 4-0 in May 2019.

Almiron last scored away from home in the Premier League in another 4-1 win for Newcastle – against Howe's Bournemouth in July 2020.

Fulham were hindered by a red card for Nathaniel Chalobah after seven minutes and 26 seconds, the earliest a player has been sent off for the club in the Premier League since Ian Pearce against Palace in October 2004 (sixth minute).

Arsenal were deserved winners against rivals Tottenham in Saturday's north London derby, so say goalscorers Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka.

The Gunners moved four points clear of Spurs at the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 win at Emirates Stadium, dealing Antonio Conte's team their first top-flight defeat of the campaign in the process.

Thomas Partey joined Jesus and Xhaka on the scoresheet as Arsenal posted a third successive home Premier League win over Spurs – the first time they have done so since September 2013.

Only once have they put together a longer such run in the competition, beating their fierce rivals in a sixth consecutive match at home in April 2005.

Jesus – whose tally of eight goal contributions is only bettered by his replacement at Manchester City, Erling Haaland (12), in the Premier League this season – is convinced Arsenal were the better team from the off.

"It's the second time I scored in a derby game, the first was against Argentina [for Brazil]," he told BT Sport. 

"I'm very happy, of course I want to score in every game, but also the way the team played, from the first minute, we showed what we wanted in the game.

"We won the game, that's the main thing. First half we were playing better [than Tottenham], in my opinion. We deserved to win today because we wanted to play the game, make passes, create chances.

"How many chances did we create today? The spirit of the team is amazing."

Jesus has been an instant hit at Arsenal since his move from City in July, and is relishing his role under Mikel Arteta.

He added: "I'm feeling at home. The staff, the club, they help me feel at home and that helps the players that join the club. I'm really happy here."

Xhaka, who put Arsenal back in front after Harry Kane's penalty had restored parity, echoed Jesus' sentiment. 

"Absolutely. We didn't have a lot of weeks to prepare the game because of the international break, but we saw yesterday in training that we were ready," he said.

"We saw exactly what we want and how Gabi said, from the first second we were the better team.

"After the goal we conceded we were struggling, but this is football. After, in the second half we were much better.

"My first derby goal in England, I'm more than happy to help the team. The most important thing is the team, and I'm so happy to help the team and win."

Xhaka has scored twice in the Premier League this season, making the current campaign the first in which he has scored more than once since 2018-19 (four).

The midfielder also has three assists this term, giving him a total of five direct goal contributions – only in 2017-18 (eight) and 2018-19 (six) has he registered more goal involvements in a Premier League season.

Second-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka fired Premier League leaders Arsenal to a 3-1 win over 10-man Tottenham in an entertaining North London Derby on Saturday.

Arsenal were rewarded for a bright start when Thomas Partey produced a stunning long-range finish after 20 minutes, but Harry Kane swiftly levelled with a penalty.

The impressive Gunners hit the front again when Jesus bundled home following Hugo Lloris' mistake, and Tottenham's hopes of a comeback were dashed when Emerson Royal was sent off. 

Xhaka then drilled into the bottom-right corner as Mikel Arteta's rampant side moved four points clear of Manchester City and consigned their fierce rivals to a first Premier League defeat of the season.

Both goalkeepers were called into action during a lively start, with Lloris tipping Gabriel Martinelli's fierce volley onto his right-hand post before Aaron Ramsdale clawed Richarlison's effort away from the bottom-right corner.

Arsenal enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and took a deserved lead when Partey curled an excellent first-time strike into the top-right corner from outside the area.

But the Gunners contrived to gift Tottenham an equaliser after 31 minutes, with Kane stroking home his 44th London derby goal from the penalty spot after Gabriel Magalhaes clumsily felled Richarlison.

Arsenal required just four minutes of the second half to move back into the lead, as Lloris pushed Bukayo Saka's tame shot straight to Jesus, who gratefully prodded home.

Jesus missed a good chance to extend Arsenal's lead when he failed to convert a header three minutes later, but Spurs' task was made far more difficult when Emerson saw red for a reckless challenge on Martinelli.

Emerson's dismissal allowed Arsenal to push forward in search of a third goal, and they made the points safe when Xhaka fired a low finish beyond Lloris from inside the box.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka called on the club and his team-mates to "protect" Ethan Nwaneri after the teenager made Premier League history.

Nwaneri became the youngest player to ever appear in the Premier League on Sunday as was introduced late on in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Brentford.

Aged 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri broke the record set by Harvey Elliott when he came on for Fulham at 16 years and 30 days old.

Nwaneri was included in Mikel Arteta's squad partly due to injuries and was introduced near the end with the Gunners in complete control.

An England youth international, Nwaneri had trained with Arsenal's first team "a couple of times", according to Arteta, whose decision to bring him on was a "gut feeling".

Nwaneri has understandably dominated headlines since his historic cameo, but the need to protect him and keep him on his current path was not lost on Xhaka, who had known of the player's talent having taken charge of Arsenal Under-16s training sessions.

"To have a guy who is 15, who is 15 years younger than me… he looks old when I see him but the club can be proud of a player like him," Xhaka told reporters.

"He has a big future. If I am honest, I am doing my coaching licence and I have trained the Under-16s: you can see a big difference with him and the other guys. He is very, very special.

"Of course, you have to protect him as he is very young but if he keeps going like this with his hard work, he has a big, big future.

"I spoke with one Brentford guy and I told him this guy was 15 and he looked at me and said: 'F*** me, we are looking old!'

"So yes, of course, when you have 15 years difference you think: 'Okay the time is not gone but it is on the way'. But we are enjoying him, he is enjoying us as he has the quality.

"If I am honest, he is not with us a lot in training. I have maybe seen him twice or three times now. He is very shy, of course, but the time will come when he will be more with us, but you have to protect him and help him.

"Football is not everything for him and for us but yes, the club will help him and the experienced players have to help him."

Fabio Vieira marked his first Premier League start with a fine goal in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday but boss Mikel Arteta was more impressed with how he did the "ugly" things in the game.

William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus put the Gunners into a 2-0 half-time lead, before Vieira, who joined from Porto in June, rifled home from 25 yards to put the seal on a comprehensive victory that lifted the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League table.  

Arteta believes the attacking midfielder role that Vieira played is where he is best suited, yet hopes the 22-year-old will continue to undertake the dirty work that is often required to win games. 

"I think he's having a good progression," Arteta said. "Obviously he missed the whole of pre-season due to injury, which was really unlucky. But we know his talent, the reasons why we signed him and what he can bring to the team.

"To do it against Brentford, at this ground, on his debut, is a different story. He showed again his character and his qualities."

Asked what the 22-year-old's best position is, Arteta responded: "That's something that still needs to be decided. In those two attacking midfield positions, for sure. He's played off the side as well, so it's more about the relations he has in the unit and on his side, and where he is more comfortable. But the position he played today fits him really well.

"He's a creative player. He needs to play with his gut feeling and his instinct. That's what he needs to do and we need to create as many scenarios for him as possible to put his talent to the service of the team.

"What I like as well is the way he competes, and the way he went about the ugly part of the game really impressed me."

Arsenal have won more Premier League games than any other team so far this season (six). It is just the third time they have won as many as six of their first seven games of a Premier League campaign – previously doing so in 2004-05 and 2007-08 under Arsene Wenger (both six).

Central to that success has been captain Granit Xhaka, who made the joint-highest number of key passes against Brentford from a deep-lying midfield position (three, alongside Bukayo Saka).

Arteta was fulsome in his praise of the Switzerland international, saying: "His consistency, and how he goes about that every day is impressive.

"He has a willingness always to stay humble, to look forward and try to get better and when you do that, normally good things happen.

"I think he feels now that love and respect both ways [with the fans]. You see our supporters, the way they were singing to him as well, emotionally that makes him try to give even more.

"I'm really pleased for him because in my opinion he really deserves it."

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