Gabriel Martinelli has revealed the message that Granit Xhaka shared with his Arsenal teammates against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
The Gunners beat their North London rivals 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium to move top of the Premier League standings once again.
Thomas Partey opened the scoring from distance, leaving Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with little chance of saving the Ghanaian’s effort.
Afterwards, the Arsenal players huddled together and Martinelli has revealed that the message from Xhaka – the team’s former captain – was relatively simple.
He told The Times: “Right after our 1st goal, he [Xhaka] calls everybody into a huddle,asking us to stay calm, saying we will score more goals. That’s when you see how important he is to players. For young players like me and Bukayo, it’s very important.”
Say what you like about Xhaka but this season he is hitting all the right notes, so much so that even Arsenal supporters, many of whom have historically disliked him, are now singing his praises.
The Switzerland international is clearly one of the club’s biggest leaders and anecdotes like this from Martinelli illustrate as much.
Facing Tottenham is always a massive occasion for the Gunners, given the rivalry, and experienced heads like Xhaka – who also scored in the victory – are very much needed.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder, a £30 million signing in 2016 [Sky], will be needed once again on Sunday as Mikel Arteta’s side welcome Liverpool to the Emirates in perhaps their toughest fixture of the campaign thus far, even if the Reds have been struggling as of late.