Granit Xhaka defends slow Arsenal start

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Granit Xhaka is unveiled as an Arsenal player earlier in the season

Granit Xhaka is unveiled as an Arsenal player earlier in the season

BASLE, Switzerland, Dec 6- Granit Xhaka says it has taken time to get used to life at Arsenal while Arsene Wenger insists the midfielder has adjusted to the Premier League.

The 24-year-old, who moved to the Emirates in May as the Gunners’ third-most expensive signing returns to home-town club Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

He has struggled to hold down a place in Wenger’s starting line-up since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach but the Switzerland international insists it is normal to need time to get used to a new league and new surroundings.

“Well, actually, it’s normal when you come to a new club and country,” he said. “You need to get used to the language, the philosophy of the team, the squad, the coach.

“But I do feel very happy and comfortable here, and I know the potential I have. In football you just have to develop yourself.”Wenger also said Xhaka is ready to make an impact in north London.

“He is adjusting,” Wenger said. “Coming to a new club, where there is a big competition for places… he has kept his focus and has done his job well every day. I believe he has adjusted to the intensity of the game already and the duels in the middle of the park.

Arsenal's (from L) Theo Walcott celebrates with teammates Shkodran Mustafi, Alexis Sanchez and Granit Xhaka after scoring a goal during their English Premier League match against Swansea City, in London, on October 15, 2016

Arsenal’s (from L) Theo Walcott celebrates with teammates Shkodran Mustafi, Alexis Sanchez and Granit Xhaka after scoring a goal during their English Premier League match against Swansea City, in London, on October 15, 2016

“He has the stature to deal with that. He can bring a good balance between offensive efficiency and defensively as well. He has improved already all round.”

Victory over Xhaka’s former club at their St. Jakob-Park home will not be enough for Arsenal to leapfrog Paris Saint-Germain at the head of Group A if the Ligue 1 champions see off Ludogorets in France.

Ahead of the final matchday, the list of group winners set to be potential opponents for Arsenal in the round-of-16 is currently made up by Napoli, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus.

However, with Sevilla, Porto, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Napoli the potential opposition if they do top the group, Wenger does not feel there is much difference in the final positions.

“If you look at the teams, not really, no,” he said when asked if finishing second was an issue. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow with the final results. It looks quite even if you finish first or second.

“The advantage of finishing first is you play the second leg at home, and possibly 30 minutes of extra-time at home.”We’ll see. PSG are favourites to beat Ludogorets at home and win the group, but we can assess that scoreline at half-time and see where we go.”

-By Sky Sports-

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