London (AFP) – New Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka will be given opportunities to nail down a first-team place after dropping out of the starting XI, manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.
Wenger spent 35 million pounds ($46 million, 41 million euros) to prise Xhaka from Borussia Moenchengladbach during the close season, making him one of Arsenal’s biggest ever signings.
The 23-year-old has started Arsenal’s last two games on the bench with Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin playing in central midfield, but Wenger has indicated the Switzerland international could play farther forward.
“I personally prefer him as a box-to-box player,” the Frenchman told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hull City.
“Because he has the engine, he has the power, he has the long pass. He likes to come deep and distribute, but he has the engine to have the impact with his runs.
“It’s not about his quality at the moment. He adapts to the pace of the English game. For me it’s about pairs as well who work together. Coquelin and Cazorla have worked well together.
“He will play games. Every week he’s stronger and better. He will have a huge impact. We are (in) September; we started in August, so it’s one month.
“Many players take time to get into the team. He will do that without any problem.”
Wenger hopes to have winger Theo Walcott available at Hull following a knee injury, but midfielder Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) remains sidelined and centre-back Gabriel (ankle) is short of match fitness.
Striker Olivier Giroud requires a late fitness test after hurting his toe in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Arsenal made a slow start to the season, losing at home to Liverpool and drawing at Leicester City, but they have won their last two games against Watford and Southampton.
Hull’s early season form has been impressive. They go into Saturday’s game level on points with Arsenal and Wenger praised their caretaker manager Mike Phelan, who has been offered the job on a permanent basis.
“He’s doing very well,” Wenger said of the former Manchester United assistant manager.
“He’s experienced after working at big clubs in big competitions. He has done really well. He is a real football man and has given some stability to Hull. They are difficult to beat.
“What is important is he has experience of the big games and the knowledge you get from these big games.”
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