Belfast Telegraph

Granit Xhaka: I wouldn't change myself for anybody

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 October 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."

Xhaka has added much-needed steel to Arsenal's midfield since his £35million summer move from Borussia Monchengladbach.

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

And the Basle 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 club 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."

Arsenal must sweat on the availability of Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who will undergo a late fitness test on a hamstring issue.

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

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