The answer to Arsenal’s midfield problems is clear after ‘surprise’ Mikel Arteta decision

When Granit Xhaka put in a masterful performance at Euro 2020 as Switzerland eliminated France on penalties, Arsenal fans sensed an unexpected feeling of optimism.

It was a performance that came not even two years after Xhaka had reacted furiously to his own fans jeering him as he was substituted against Crystal Palace in October 2019, a game that looked fatal to his career.

For a while it seemed he was destined to join Jose Mourinho’s Roma but instead he signed a new deal in north London. Could he now step up for Mikel Arteta? Against Manchester City, however, we saw the Xhaka Arsenal fans know and loathe.

We have taken a look back at what pundits and former players have said in the past about Xhaka; a player with undoubted ability but too many frustrating attributes.

Ian Wright

Following his red card against Manchester City, Arsenal legend Ian Wright slammed Xhaka for not being able to show a calm head when up against it.

“It’s crazy [Xhaka’s tackle]. You don’t need to tackle like that against anybody, it’s a terrible challenge,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

“When you’re 2-0 down against City you need somebody like Xhaka, who is an experienced player, to be calm because this could be anything Manchester City want it to be.

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“That is a dangerous challenge, he had to go. I think they said he has been sent off 11 times now, I’m not sure what it is. I’m not sure how Mikel [Arteta] is trying to justify that.

Charlie Nicholas

For Nicholas, the glaring problem is how Arsenal cannot rely on Xhaka, hinting that the Swiss midfielder must eliminate his erratic nature on the pitch to be a success with the club.

“He did what he’s always done. He played the joker card. He is the joker of our club,” Nicholas said on the Where’s Jeff Podcast, after his red card against Manchester City.

“How he can manipulate Roma into paying £17m… I would’ve personally dropped him off there… And then he signs a new contract.

“When you look at the so-called captain in Xhaka, that’s a cop-out. It was an absolute camouflage [the red card] and it just sums everything up about that football club.”

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville.

Gary Neville

As the recent international break came to a close, Neville appeared on Sky Sports News to discuss Arsenal’s dismal start to the Premier League season. He pointed the finger at the club’s experienced players, such as Xhaka, for not showing enough leadership in the dressing room.

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“I think with Arsenal that sometimes it’s not the signings that they bring in; it’s more the actual senior players that you look at and think, well, what are they getting from them?,” he said.

“What are they getting from Aubameyang, Lacazette, Xhaka? Those players that you think would hold them together.

“They’ve got to really sort of get themselves right in the next few weeks and create an atmosphere and culture in that dressing room of one that they’re all together and aligned behind the manager together to get performances.”

Nigel Winterburn

Former Gunner Nigel Winterburn says it is a temperament issue holding Xhaka back and said he could not believe the midfielder was handed the captaincy against Brentford following his outburst at the fans.

“Mikel Arteta handed Granit Xhaka the captaincy back on Friday night and obviously feels he is a player that could take that responsibility,” Winterburn told Paddy Power.

“I couldn’t quite believe it myself; I was surprised to see Xhaka being given the armband back.”

Source by Football London

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