GRANIT XHAKA is set to swap life as a pariah for being a golden boy following Mikel Arteta’s arrival.
Xhaka’s days at Arsenal looked all but over when he swore at fans in an angry bust-up in October.
Slammed by the supporters and singled out by pundits as a scapegoat for all that was wrong with the Gunners, the Swiss star looked certain to be on his way out next month.
But it turns out new boss Arteta is a huge fan of Xhaka.
And he even tried to get Pep Guardiola to sign the midfielder at old club Manchester City.
Spaniard Arteta said: “At City, we were looking at players in that position – he was on my list.
“I have told him how much I like him and what I expect from him — and how important he is for the team.
“I am here to help him, I want him to feel we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club. If we can get the fans with him, I think it will be helpful for the team.
“I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“He has done some really good things and now he’s got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and one day it exploded.
“But I have been amazed by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very positive about him.
“Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction.”
I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.”
Xhaka was stripped of the Gunners captaincy after his stand-off with the fans and replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — but Arteta may not let the striker keep the armband.
Aubameyang is likely to skipper the side at Bournemouth today but the new chief said: “I don’t want to change everything drastically in two days.
“I want to see what’s going on and in the right moment, I will make the decisions for the benefit of the team.
“At the moment I don’t think it is the right time, with the amount of games coming up and the amount of things that have to be done, to change too many things.”
The trip to the South Coast will be the first chance to see what kind of difference Arteta can make.
And even though he will only have had three sessions with the players, the 37-year-old is already making big demands.
He added: “What I am expecting from them is full commitment and aggression. I want a big reaction after we lose the ball.
“With the ball, we are going to be working on some things I think will help them. But it has to be part of the process.
“I’ve only had time to make little adjustments, to tell them what I want. I need to get them organised the way I want and then we will have to tweak things, improve things and correct things.”
Gabriel Martinelli is expected to overcome a hamstring strain while Hector Bellerin should return at the back.
Shkodran Mustafi looks set to replace suspended Calum Chambers.