I’m a little bit obsessed with stats.
Numbers make the world go round, and statistics have a wonderful way of illuminating previously unseen facets of a game, or a season.
They also colour things a little unfavourably.
A slightly alarming stat came out just after we had scraped a draw against Wolves, and it certainly overshadowed many positives that have sprung up since our promising start to the season.
It was revealed that Granit Xhaka had made more errors leading to a goal than ANY OTHER PLAYER in the Premier League since his arrival.
That’s not just errors, but critical ones. Mistakes that put us in a position to lose. Faux pas’s that put us at a distinct disadvantage.
The star has a real danger of tempering people’s thought on a player that has failed to win the majority of Gooners over due to his mixed displays since signing from Borussia Monchengladbach.
The truth is though, that behind this stat, the Swiss midfielder was starting to show us all the player that we thought we had signed. The all-action, bridging player that can transform defence to attack with a pinged 30yard pass.
Xhaka spoke on his newly-found form a few weeks earlier, citing the presence of Lucas Torreira as the reason why he had suddenly begun to find consistency and a higher level. The midfielder claimed that because Torreira was marshalling the defensive aspects of midfield and covering the backline, it was his newly found liberation that meant he felt free enough to do what he does best.
What does he do best?
It is his long-range passing, it is his tackling ability, it is his all-round passing. Xhaka does them all well, but it was when he was tasked with the defensive elements himself that we saw a conflicted Xhaka, one who simply wasn’t at his best when tracking runners.
Now, we have a player who made an error - one that led to us dropping points - and we have to wonder if the criticism will find its way to him? How much of what we tweet, write and post reaches the players?
Even if it is a case of ‘water off a duck’s back,’ we still need to back the player, as even if he made a mistake, one that hurt us, the majority of this season has shown he is a critical player for us.
Xhaka is a baller, and one we need playing at the top of his game. Let’s show him some love, like he has done for us.
After all, it's just a stat.