Football

Xhaka won't change playing style

Arsenal's aggressive midfielder determined to shut down WBA's attacking raids

ARSENAL WEST BROM

Granit Xhaka has vowed not to shy away from his tough-tackling style despite collecting eight red cards since 2014.

The Switzerland midfielder was sent off in Arsenal's 3-2 home Premier League win over Swansea on Oct 15, but has now gone eight games in all competitions without a card of any sort.

Xhaka hopes he can now balance aggression with timing on the tackle front - without losing his gritty edge.

"There are of course phases in the game where the line becomes blurred, but then you need to step up psychologically," said Xhaka.

"I play with a lot of emotion because I'm a passionate guy and I play with that passion. I love playing that way.

"Sometimes you're late onto the ball, sometimes you're not.

"Sometimes you make contact with the guy when you tackle him, sometimes not.

"It's a sport where individual duels are vital, so I don't see it as a problem."

I wouldn’t change myself for anybody. I am who I am ... I have my strengths and my weaknesses which I can try to improve upon, of course.Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka on his tough-tackling style

ADDING STEEL

Xhaka has added much-needed steel to Arsenal's midfield since his £35-million (S$41.1m) summer move from Borussia Moenchengladbach.

The 48-capped Switzerland star will aim to shut down West Brom's attacking raids in the Boxing Day clash at the Emirates Stadium.

And the Basel youth product will look to be every bit as physical against Tony Pulis' regimented visitors as in the past.

"I wouldn't change myself for anybody. I am who I am, people accept me or they don't," Xhaka told Arsenal's official website.

"I have my strengths and my weaknesses which I can try to improve upon, of course. I'm still not the finished product.

"I'm only 24 so I've got plenty of time to keep improving."

Wenger's men are bidding to set their Premier League campaign back on track after consecutive defeats by Everton and Manchester City have hampered their early designs on a title challenge.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to miss out after picking up an injury at City and Welsh international midfielder Aaron Ramsey faces a fitness test regarding a hamstring problem.

West Brom head for the Emirates Stadium with boss Tony Pulis happy with his team's form despite a 2-0 defeat by Manchester United two Saturdays ago.

Pulis' men have lost just twice in their last seven games, but the Welshman is already looking at potential reinforcements in next month's transfer window.

NO MORRISON

"I know where we are at the moment and we're bobbing along okay," said Pulis, who could be without key midfielder James Morrison due to a bout of flu.

"What we've got to do is try to improve it this (transfer) window if we can and keep it going and hopefully every window from that point onwards, we will get those one or two quality players that we need all the time."

Pulis, who launched a bid this week for Man United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, has urged players unable to get into the starting 11 at bigger clubs to consider joining the Baggies for regular football.

"This is a very good club to be at, it's an opportunity to come here and play," he said.

"Jonny Evans is one example of someone who couldn't get into (Manchester) United's team.

"Now he's been talked of in terms of Arsenal and Liverpool, the press are talking about him being one of their targets.

"It gives them the opportunity to play and, that for me, is what it's all about." - WIRE SERVICES

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