Granit Xhaka rewrites his Arsenal story while paving the way for potential ‘special’ teenager Ethan Nwaneri

London The extent of the turmoil experienced in the past six years in ArsenalAnd the Granite Shaka The distinguishing feature was his ability to survive. So perhaps it is fitting that the vice captain now prepares the next generation who will take the place of his midfield when he finally abandons the club.

In between his increasingly on-pitch with Arsenal, Xhaka took the first steps in his coaching career at Hale End Academy, where he was one of the most talked about young players in the English game under his tutelage. The youngest player to debut in the Premier League on Sunday, Ethan Nwaneri has had his footsteps passed by a man nearly twice his age in recent weeks.

“I hold my training license and have trained [him in] Under 16s,” Xhaka, who is studying for a UEFA B license, revealed after Sunday’s 3-0 win in Brentford. “You can see a huge difference with him and with others.

“He is very special. Of course, you have to protect him because he is very young, but if he continues like this with his hard work, he will have a big and big future.

“I spoke to a guy from Branford and I told him this guy is 15 years old and he looked at me and said, ‘Me, we look old! So yeah, of course, when you have 15 years of difference you think, ‘Okay, time isn’t wasted but it’s on the way. [for me]But we enjoy him, he enjoys us because he has quality.

“He’s not much with us in training. Maybe I’ve seen him two or three times now. But he’s very shy of course, but the time will come when he’s with us more. You have to protect him and help him. Football isn’t everything for him and us, but yes, the club will help him and he must Experienced players help him.”

If anyone is in a good position to advise Nwaneri on the highs and lows of the game, it’s Xhaka. After all, less than three years ago, the idea that he might lead the next generation through the Arsenal ranks was unimaginable. The story is told so well now, how the then club captain swore to the fans and appeared chained to the exit door before Mikel Arteta took charge and pleaded with him for another four months.

Xhaka’s Arc of Redemption It started some time ago, but has somehow moved beyond just melting away the tensions. There is a real affinity among fans for Xhaka, the once booed player who has been seen as the iconic figure of Arsenal’s decline. Now playing the best football of his career, didn’t the travel fans know him at Brentford Community Stadium? Even louder than an earworm that is William Saliba They chanted to the melody of “tequila” for the champions, louder than the applause of the junior Nwaneri, there were chants of “Our Granit Shaka”. The man himself seemed as affected by this as any moment in the Arsenal shirt.

“I think he now feels love and respect in both directions,” Arteta told CBS Sports in his post-game press conference. “You see our fans, and the way they were singing to him too. Emotionally, that makes him try to give more. I’m really happy for him because in my opinion he really deserves it.”

As recently as February, when Xhaka turned down the opportunity to claim the captaincy in Arsenal’s home win over Brentford, it seemed hard to imagine the 29-year-old leading his teammates to the admiration of his fans. As he himself admitted, he believed exactly that. “I never thought that this would ever happen, if I’m being honest. Being in front of them, having them sing my name is so special and so emotional. I’ve always wanted to.”

“I’ve always wanted to give them something back after what happened. We’ve been working hard to try to change their minds about what they have for me and I’m happy with what happened. There’s more to come of myself.

“After what happened again three years ago, being captain of the team and being in front of this team, having the fans back to me means a lot to me.”

As Xhaka has changed his perception of himself, his Arsenal teammates have been forced to something of a reassessment of their whereabouts. For the first time in six years, they will enter October at the top of the table and every inch has looked like one of the Premier League’s top teams as they dismantled Brentford on display on a ground they stunned. Manchester UnitedAnd the Liverpool And the most famous of all at the start of last season, Arsenal themselves.

There was no repeat of the ravings of full-time Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher 13 months ago, and no raucous Sunday lunchtime atmosphere as visiting fans drowned their home grounds of pandemonium as the Bees announced their return to the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. That night, Xhaka was quite a mess, lucky he didn’t miss a penalty in the seconds leading up to Sergi Canos’ opener.

On Sunday, Xhaka was the crucial, truly ‘box-to-box’ midfielder that Arsene Wenger called him, in large part, six years ago. At one end, his sliding intervention prevented Matthias Jensen from achieving a goal that might have rattled the visitor’s nerves. On the other hand, his delicate give and go with Gabriel Martinelli The game probably brought a great opening in its first two minutes; His help will eventually come when Gabriel Jesus moves his cross between them David Ray. For a team that used to lose matches in groups, this was the perfect response to their defeat against Manchester United two weeks ago.

“If you watched us against Brentford one year ago and you saw us today, my opinion is [there is] Xhaka said: “Big, big, big difference. Saying we crushed them is a bit difficult because I want to respect them, but I think we deserved to win today from minute one to minute 90.

“We could have scored after a minute with Martinelli and they didn’t really have one chance, except maybe one in the 80th minute, but we’re very happy.

“Two years ago, that was a problem because we would lose, for example, against Manchester United and then lose again, and again and again, and [only] and then [do] You Come Here. But this year, I have a feeling it’s different and here I saw the result.”

Perhaps it’s no wonder Xhaka has this feeling. After all, if anyone’s Arsenal story has changed over the past few months, this is their story. If it’s such a huge increase for the entire squad this season, it’s definitely going to be a completely different story.

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