Arsenal column: Granit Xhaka the stand out performer since Boxing Day but some of his senior professionals continue to disappoint

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka (left) and Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend battle for the ball during the Pr

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka (left) and Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. - Credit: PA

Arsenal were hoping to continue their good form against Crystal Palace last Thursday night after the 2-0 FA Cup success over Newcastle United.

Emile Smith Rowe stole the headlines again after coming off the bench to send the Gunners on their way.

Crystal Palace's James McArthur (left) and Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe battle for the ball during the

Crystal Palace's James McArthur (left) and Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. - Credit: PA

The second from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would give all Gooners confidence after his recent goal drought. 

All the hope and expectation counted for nothing in the end after a boring goalless draw in North London against Roy Hodgson’s side. 

The London derby will go down as one of the dullest games so far this season. 


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Kieran Tierney was a huge miss on the left-hand side after his blistering form in recent weeks.

The former Celtic man was a bargain at around £25million and now there is even talk of the Scot being the next captain at the club. 

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Smith Rowe had limited chances during the midweek Premier League fixture and it is important that he is nurtured correctly into the side. He has been phenomenal recently, but he must remain hungry and fresh. 

Arsene Wenger admitted that he overused Jack Wilshere when he was a youngster at the club.

The worst fear is Smith Rowe not fulfilling his potential and becoming a ‘what if’ player when we look back in a decade or so. Unfortunately, that is the case with Jack now. 

Mikel Arteta has been relying on the youngsters this season, but the senior professionals must stand up and show their backbone.

The likes of Willian and Nicolas Pepe have been outshone by Bukayo Saka and Smith Rowe and quite frankly, it is embarrassing. 

This is because Pepe cost the club over £70million, a club record free.

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe fatigued as the match goes in to extra time during the Emirates FA Cup third

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe fatigued as the match goes in to extra time during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Emirates Stadium, London. - Credit: PA

The Hale End youngsters cost the club nothing, they are on much lower wages, but they are acting as the senior performers in the side.  

Willian was a serial winner across London at Cheslea. His move to Arsenal has been a monumental failure so far, with only three assists to show for himself. All came on matchday one against Fulham.

This means he is on a goal contribution drought of 17 games in all competitions. 

Only a select few experienced players are giving their all for the club right now. 

Hector Bellerin, Bernd Leno and Granit Xhaka have been superb recently.

The latter was laudable against Palace and he deserved man of the match. 

He has many critics and is like Marmite within the Arsenal fan base, but nobody can question his commitment and passion in recent weeks. 

Arteta hailed him as a leader in his post-match presser on Thursday. Even his critics would have to agree he has been outstanding since the Boxing Day win over Chelsea. 

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