Granit Xhaka was happy to silence his critics with his goalscoring performance during Arsenal's 3-1 victory against Chelsea on Boxing Day.
The Switzerland international was playing his first game since his sending off against Burnley on December 13 and marked the occasion with an impressive performance as Arsenal claimed their first win in seven Premier League games.
Xhaka curled home a wonderful free-kick just before half-time to add to Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty and drew praise from manager Mikel Arteta for his all-round display in the heart of midfield.
It was the perfect response from the 28-year-old, who has come in for lots of criticism in recent weeks following his red card against Burnley and his failure to publicly apologise for the incident which led to a 1-0 home defeat.
“There was a lot of speaking after the red card,” Xhaka said. “A lot of people started speaking again ... and again and again.
“I will always show my character. I was very disappointed about my red card and I knew what I did was wrong for my side. But I am more than happy. I helped the team and I am back.”
Xhaka added: “We knew it would be a very difficult game, but we worked very well together like a team and at the moment we can only get points if we do this.
“We carried out the plan that the coach gave us. To press, to be focused 95 minutes. We scored at the right time and going 3-0 up helped a lot.”
Arsenal’s win against Chelsea saw them move up to 14th in the Premier League and edge six points clear of the relegation zone.
The victory was their first in the league since the 1-0 success at Manchester United on November 1 and it helped ease the pressure on Arteta, who had come under fire for his side’s awful run of form.
Arteta’s side now head into two crucial away games at Brighton and West Brom and Xhaka says the win against Chelsea will count for little if they don’t follow it up.
“It was very important that we got three points [against Chelsea] but we have to continue like this,” he said.
“The next two games away are very difficult but if we work together like a team we have the chance to take away all six points.”