Every team has a scapegoat, a player that takes the brunt of the abuse from the stands despite the entire 11 underperforming. Arsenal have a number of them in their current squad and Granit Xhaka is just one of those who have largely failed to win over the fans since his arrival in North London. He is regularly the subject of vitriol from passionate Gunners fans and the midfielder has failed to connect with supporters leaving many of them unsure about exactly what he offers to the team.
Source: Arsenal TV via Twitter
Swiss international Granit Xhaka joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach for an initial fee of £25 million and was billed as the combative midfielder that Arsene Wenger’s side badly needed. He described himself as “a leader” and endeavoured to “help Arsenal win trophies” and arrived with a solid reputation following a successful spell in the Bundesliga which had seen him become club captain at just 23-years-old.
It can often be dangerous to arrive at the Emirates with a positive reputation and Xhaka found it difficult to get up to speed with the Premier League. He wasn’t able to help his new side finish in the top four last season and they look set to miss out once again. Arsenal are currently 12/1 in the football betting markets to finish the season in the top four and return to the Champions League but they shouldn’t be written off as the Gunners always tend to finish the campaign with a flourish.
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Some supporters have been quick to defend Xhaka suggesting that he hasn’t found the perfect midfield partner but even with Jack Wilshire alongside him, he’s struggled at times. He’s previously been criticised by Thierry Henry for failing to get up and react to Wayne Rooney giving Everton the lead back in October 2017 and he was again considered at fault for one of the goals in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat against struggling Swansea at the end of January. Other criticisms of his play include being ineffective going forward and the habit of switching off at crucial moments.
Since taming his temper, there has been a notable improvement in the Swiss International’s performances but since Christmas, he appears to have reverted back to type and that is concerning for supporters. Arsene Wenger sees him as a guaranteed starter but many fans are suggesting that being left out of the side may result in a much-needed reality check for him. He has often been culpable for some of the sloppiest goals that Arsenal have conceded this season and perhaps it’s time for another player to make the step up and stake a claim for that central position.
He was excellent at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea as his side dug in and held on for a valuable point but those performances have been few and far between. He isn’t the only player in the side who has become sloppier as the season has progressed but his contributions have been far from positive and perhaps it is time to take him out of the firing line for a few games.
There is still plenty of life left in the Arsenal number 29 but he needs a huge shot of confidence and perhaps a few weeks running through the basics on the training ground could really benefit the midfielder. He hasn’t done enough to merit his inclusion throughout January and drastic improvement is required if Arsenal are to return to the top four this season.