Granit Xhaka warns Leverkusen teammates to avoid ‘bottling’ title like Arsenal

Granit Xhaka wants his Bayer Leverkusen teammates to stay grounded to avoid falling into the same traps as last season's Arsenal (Credit: Imago/Team 2/Pro Sports Images)

Granit Xhaka warns Leverkusen teammates to avoid ‘bottling’ title like Arsenal

Seye Omidiora 21:29 - 03.03.2024

The Swiss midfielder is not getting overconfident despite Xabi Alonso’s side opening a 10-point lead on Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich because of last season’s Premier League failure with Arsenal.

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka has told his teammates not to get carried away despite increasing their lead atop the Bundesliga standings to 10 points following Sunday’s 2-0 win at FC Cologne. The Swiss midfielder played 82 minutes for Xabi Alonso’s men in the win at RheinEnergieStadion, with goals from Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo extending Die Werkself’s unbeaten 2023-24 season.

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What Xhaka said after Bayer Leverkusen’s win

In a pitch-side interview after Leverkusen’s 20th win in 24 Bundesliga games, Xhaka warned his colleagues to avoid thinking the club’s first title was sewn up.

Granit Xhaka
Xhaka starred in Leverkusen's 20th Bundesliga win on Sunday (Credit: Imago/Sven Simon)

“Nothing is won yet,” cautioned Xhaka, who was speaking to ESPN. “I am speaking about my own experience (at Arsenal) with what I had last season. I think it was a similar points difference over the second (Manchester City) and we didn’t win the league.

I know the experience, and this is what I shared in the dressing room that 10 points is a lot in football when you have 10 games left.

“It’s not over. They know too because they ask me day by day: ‘You’ve been in this situation as well, how was it and what happened?’ I tried to explain but you cannot explain with words, you have to feel it. That’s why we have to stay humble and work day by day, and let’s see where we are after 34 games.”

What happened with Arsenal last season?

Xhaka was part of the Arsenal side that led Manchester City with five points after Pep Guardiola’s men dropped points at Nottingham Forest in February. However, the Manchester outfit claimed 12 successive wins on the trot, including a 4-1 triumph over Mikel Arteta’s men in late April en route to a third straight Premier League title and an eventual treble.

The upshot of Man City’s late-season resurgence meant Xhaka and his former teammates ended the year without a trophy, extending the Gunners’ wait for a first league title since 2004, and the Swiss midfielder is keen to avoid a similar fate with Leverkusen.

Arsenal's Premier League hopes went up in smoke after last season's 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest (Credit: Imago/Sportimage)

What comes next for Xhaka and Leverkusen?

Xhaka should participate for Leverkusen, who turn their attentions to continental football this week when they travel to Qarabag in the Europa League last-16 first-leg match in Baku, with the reverse fixture to be played at BayArena on March 14.

In the Bundesliga, Leverkusen face Wolfsburg and Freiburg on March 10 and 17 before the imminent international break.