Arsenal midfielder on social-media criticism, provocative pundits, his resurgence and the chat with Arteta that changed everything

It was the perfect storm, although Granit Xhaka would doubtless choose a different adjective. Arsenal had lost three Premier League games in a row at home and badly needed something from the visit of Burnley in mid-December. It was not proving straightforward and, with the game level at 0-0 in the 56th minute, Xhaka felt his blood run hot.

He had triggered the flashpoint with a foul on Dwight McNeil and, from that point, it got out of hand. McNeil squared up to Xhaka, who was never going to back down and then another Burnley player, Ashley Westwood, arrived on the scene. He pushed Xhaka, who got back up to grab him by the throat. Westwood went down and Xhaka’s red card was frustratingly inevitable.

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