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Emery starts his Famous Four… but Xhaka is the main man with best performance of his Arsenal career

Selecting Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang AND Alexandre Lacazette all in the same side was a real declaration of intent.


It was a team sheet which screamed out to unbeaten Liverpool ‘you’d better be ready because we’re coming for you with all guns blazing’.

But it was also a line-up which left them dangerously exposed to Liverpool on the counter-attack.

Yet anxious Arsenal supporters need not have worried, because Granit Xhaka turned in the performance of his career to help maintain his team’s long unbeaten run going.

The Swiss midfielder has long been the man the fans love to hate for his tendency to squander possession and to concede free-kicks in dangerous areas.


But alongside new Emirates idol Lucas Torreira, Xhaka was pretty much faultless in the middle of the park as he kept Liverpool at arms’ length for much of this north London thriller.

One penalty-area tackle to halt Mo Salah in full flow was worth the admission price alone.

No wonder Emery celebrated the challenge as if his team had just scored. That’s how much it meant to him.

But it wasn’t just Xhaka’s defensive excellence which caught the eye.

His calm authority on the ball was equally impressive while his passing statistics were also top notch.

It was his beautifully-weighted through ball which was flicked on by Ozil for Lacazette to flash a shot right across the face of the Liverpool goal.

Having been asked to operate as an emergency left-back in recent weeks, Xhaka was clearly relishing the opportunity to return the heart of the midfield battle.

His partnership with Emirates idol Torreira was proving to be a real conundrum for Jurgen Klopp.

The Liverpool boss could not understand how the towering Fabinho was being physically bullied by the tiny Uruguayan pitbull.

Georginio Wijnaldum was finding the going just as tough for the visitors as they struggled to find a way through to the Arsenal back-four.

In the end, they had to go over the top, bypassing the midfield with one Andrew Roberton ball over the top into the channel for Sadio Mane.

Not for the first time in the match, Bernd Leno failed to deal with the cross and this time he was left undone by James Milner’s emphatic 62nd minute finish.

But there is a real resilience about Arsenal these days and they simply refused to lie down and accept their fate.

Lacazette’s 83rd-minute equaliser was no more than they deserved for Emery’s boldness on sending on three attacking subs and throwing the kitchen sink at the Premier League leaders.

And when Liverpool threatened to snatch a late winner right at the death, it was Xhaka who stepped up to clear the danger.

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