Granit Xhaka using Arsenal collapse to inspire Bayer Leverkusen title push | Football

Ex-Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has starred in his debut season at Bayer Leverkusen (Picture: Getty)

Granit Xhaka says he has been using Arsenal’s capitulation in last season’s Premier League title race as a reminder to his Bayer Leverkusen team-mates not to take their position for granted in the Bundesliga.

Last summer, Xhaka brought an end to his seven-year spell with Arsenal to join Leverkusen and the 31-year-old midfielder has been instrumental in the club’s phenomenal start to the season.

Still unbeaten in the German top fight this term, Leverkusen hold an imperious ten-point lead over second-placed Bayern Munich, who have won the last 11 titles on the bounce.

Xabi Alonso’s side ensured they preserved their advantage at the top of the table with victory away to Cologne at the weekend, with Jeremie Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo scoring either side of half-time at the RheinEnergieSTADION.

Xhaka has started all 24 matches of Leverkusen’s incredible campaign thus far and was understandably delighted as the league leaders made it five wins in five games.

However, after Xhaka’s Arsenal team managed to surrender an eight-point lead to Manchester City last term, the Switzerland international knows all too well how quickly the complexion of a title race can shift.

‘It’s good and we can be proud of it but nothing is won yet,’ Xhaka told ESPN’s Archie Rhind-Tutt shortly after Leverkusen’s defeat of Cologne.

Ex-Arsenal star Granit Xhaka

The Switzerland midfielder left Arsenal after seven years last summer (Picture: Getty)

‘I’m speaking about my own experience that I had last season. I think it was similar points over the second and we didn’t win the league.

‘I know the experience, this is what I share with the dressing room as well that of course ten points is a lot in football, for sure, when you have ten games left.

‘But having ten points over and another 30 points you can take, it’s not over.’

Xhaka has started all 24 games of Leverkusen’s league campaign (Picture: Getty)

Asked whether he was using Arsenal’s drop-off as a warning to the Leverkusen dressing room, Xhaka replied: ‘For sure and they know because they’re asking me day by day: “You’ve been in this situation… how was it and what happened?

‘I try to explain but you can’t explain with words. You have to feel it.

‘Let’s stay humble, let’s work day by day like we are doing all the season and let’s calculate and see where we are after 34 games.’

The former Arsenal man is not taking Leverkusen’s position for granted (Picture: Getty)

Xhaka thanked Leverkusen’s fans for the continued support they had shown across the season.

On the significance of beating Leverkusen’s local rivals Cologne, Xhaka explained: ‘It was something special for myself because I know how much the derby feels for the fans.

‘This game we needed to win, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you play.

‘This win was more for the fans than for us.

‘You see the support we had today… I don’t know how many people were there but we just can say thank you.

‘All season they’ve been supporting us, amazing, and we want to give them something back and hopefully today that was one to enjoy.’

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