Granit Xhaka has vowed to “always show his character” as he returned from suspension to overcome criticism and help Arsenal beat Chelsea on Boxing Day.
The Switzerland midfielder has always divided the Arsenal fanbase and was stripped of the club captaincy last season after telling supporters to “f**k off” as they jeered him as he was substituted.
He rebuilt his reputation with some fine displays under Mikel Arteta but was again met with dissenting voices when he was sent off in the home loss to Burnley having grabbed Ashley Westwood around the throat.
Arteta has always maintained Xhaka is an integral part of his plans at the Emirates Stadium and his decision to bring the 28-year-old straight back into the side for the 3-1 win over Chelsea was vindicated by a man-of-the-match display.
“There was a lot of speaking after the red card,” Xhaka said after the game in which he scored Arsenal’s second goal with a fine free-kick.
“A lot of people started speaking again… and again and again. I will always show my character.
“I was very disappointed about my red card and I knew what I did was wrong for my side. But I am more than happy. I helped the team and I am back.”
Arsenal had taken just two points from their previous seven Premier League outings before seeing off London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta said he wants the win to be a “turning point” following a difficult start to the campaign and Xhaka believes the collective effort can help them keep the momentum for the trips to Brighton and West Brom.
“It was very good,” he said of beating Chelsea.
“We got the three points back after dropping some in the past few weeks. We knew it would be a very difficult game, but I think we worked very well together like a team and at the moment we can only get points if we do this.
“We carried out the plan that the coach gave us. To press, to be focused 95 minutes. We scored at the right time and going 3-0 up helps a lot.
“It was very important that we got three points but we have to continue like this.
“The next two games away are very difficult but if we work together like a team as we did today we have the chance to take away all six points from the next two games.”