When asked to explain the decision in his post match press conference Arteta revealed it had been taken in order to prevent an attacking threat that Sheffield United had to offer, and hailed Xhaka’s willingness to adapt for the good of the team.
Mikel Arteta said: “He had a specific role today for the game because we believed they were going to try to do something. He had the right qualities to develop that role. He did that really good. It’s a joy to work with him because you ask him to play as a centre forward and his first reaction is ‘yeah, yeah I’ll do my best’.”
However, before completing the answer Arteta dropped a bombshell that confirmed he will more or less have to rethink the entire way he structures the Arsenal attack.
Mikel Arteta added: “I think today he [Xhaka] had a really strong performance. And with Kieran probably out for the season it gives us another option.”
Initially the prognosis had been that Tierney would be out for 4-6 weeks which would have potentially seen him back in time for the second leg of the Europa League semi finals – if Arsenal make it that far – and the last three games of the Premier League season.