How to solve a problem like Xhaka

Morning all from a cloudy Algarve, in which i’m typing today’s blog whilst overlooking the sea and wondering why the sky isn’t blue, which is most irritating. And as I sit here and tap away I am thinking about Granit Xhaka and the way in which he polarises opinions amongst our fanbase. After he made that pretty shoddy pass on Sunday which led to the goal I got a couple of texts and WhatsApp messages telling me that he’s sh*t, that he should get out of the club, etc, etc, and I found it so intriguing because aside from that silly mistake Xhaka did ok.

So much of our football has him involved in key parts of the game. He’s there when a ball needs to be fed back, when we are building up our possession, he enables us to control the game at times and he has vision when trying to move the ball forward. I lost count of the times that he picked the ball up and then was able to look at creating space out on the wings against Cardiff.

He’s a good player and I’ve always thought that he adds something to our team. But like many players down the years his flaws seem to be magnified and that also results in so many Arsenal fans feeling that he doesn’t add value to the team.

I think it is because he isn’t the defensive midfielder we all thought we were getting when he signed. The summer we picked him up from Monchengladbach we had a deep lying playmaker in Jack, we had Santi, we had Rambo, so the general consensus was that we needed a destroyer in front of the back four. Chaka was signed and despite the access to information we all have these days through YouTube, etc, everyone hoped that he would be ‘That Guy’ who was able to screen our back line. But as we know now he clearly was never going to be that and we even found out that Arsene Wenger didn’t really know what he was either, calling him a number ten, a box-to-box player, as well as a defensive midfielder, all in the space of a season. So because of what we thought we were getting and because of what we wanted Xhaka to be, I think that is where a lot of the irritation in the player comes from. Basically people get annoyed with Xhaka because he’s not the player we thought we were getting in the first place.

What doesn’t help, however, is these high profile mistakes that he makes, which seem to often lead to goals for the opponents and because of that, it does make him look poor to many people, because if you make a big mistake and are punished that often overrides everything else. We all do it. I did it whilst watching the Cardiff game. I spent half the game lamenting why he makes these mistakes, whilst not realising the good he does for the team and on Sunday he had a much better second half, that’s for sure.

I think what we all need to realise with him is that he’s never going to be the player who has energy and an engine that gets him about the pitch in double-quick time. He’s never going to be a blood and thunder player who is steaming in to tackles. He is going to make mistakes if put under pressure and facing his own goal. But what he’s going to be is a player with whom our play runs through and what he is going to be is a player who has a passing range that is smart and will help us get many of the goals we score this season. How do we solve a problem like Xhaka? As fans I think it is to accept his limitations, accept the value he adds, then appreciate the good that he does. It doesn’t mean we can’t all throw our hands in the air when he f*cks up, but it does mean that we can appreciate that he adds something to our side, which is why I can see that Emery will persevere with him.

My other hope is that we see more of this partnership with Torreira as the season starts to unfold because I think he could be the perfect foil for the Swiss international.

Catch you all tomorrow.

By | 2018-09-04T09:27:11+00:00 September 4th, 2018|midfield, premier league, Tactics, Unai Emery|8 Comments

About the Author:

Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.

8 Comments

  1. DEW 4th September 2018 at 9:38 am - Reply

    I accept your positive analysis of Xhaka, but if you are prepared to accept his downsides, then Emery should also abandon his high pressing tactics and building from the back, and abandon becoming a possession based football team. But it is true that xhaka is good player, with good passing range, and some other good qualities.

    • Bendtnersbettercousin 4th September 2018 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Good point and that is a question for the long term I.e. players who fit his system or change system.

    • Steve 4th September 2018 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Selling him is the only viable solution, yes I would love it to work but he has demonstrated no qualities thus far that would merit him in any role.Would he get into any other team in top 6? no he is simply not good enough. To summarise, he has poor positional sense, poor awareness at critical moments, he’s backwards or sideways pass accuracy is good, forward passing is amateurish at best..all in all he is hopeless

  2. zTOM 4th September 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I completely agree. Xhaka will never be the DM he keeps being played as, that’s just playing in his weaknesses.
    Alongside Torreira doing that job however we should see the best of him and a strong contribution to the team’s play without those key mistakes.

  3. john 4th September 2018 at 10:08 am - Reply

    there’s just one tiny, tiny problem which is totally unresolvable, has been obvious from the beginning and should have been obvious before we signed and it is….HE IS SLOWER THAN ANYONE’S GRANNY
    that is all that matters. it doesn’t matter that he can pass sideways most of the time and very occasionally forward. he is WAY TOO SLOW for prem

    • Flashman71 4th September 2018 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Spot on John he literally is the slowest midfielder I have seen in over 45yrs of watching Arsenal. He gives fouls away constantly beacuse he cannot actually get to opossition players quickly enough and is always late. He is, in my view dreadful an absolute liability. In Italy or Germany the slower tempo of the games might suit him as does the slower pace of many international matches ala switzerland, but for the intensity and constant high tempo of the premiership he is not suitable. As for the continued painting off him as some kind of pirlo type deep lying great passer by many Arsenal fans, it is absolute cobblers, he is crap no 2ways about it.

  4. jw1 4th September 2018 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    As simply as I can equate it?
    IMHO Xhaka will never add the worth that his deficiencies cost.
    In a game that is decided by a tally of goals– he gives away more than he generates.
    A facet acceptable in a defender; but not in a midfielder.
    That aspect, distilled-down, tells the tale.

    jw1

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