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Granit Xhaka's 'stupidity' leaves football pundits miffed; insist midfielder a 'liability' for Arsenal

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a new worry - Granit Xhaka, who has been shown the red card five times so far in his career at the Emirates.

football efl carabao cup liverpool vs arsenal Granit Xhaka red card leaves football pundits miffed insist midfielder a liability for Arsenal
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London, First Published Jan 14, 2022, 2:34 PM IST
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a new worry - Granit Xhaka, who has been shown the red card five times so far in his career at the Emirates. The Swiss international received the latest red card for a last-man foul on Diogo Jota in the first half of Thursday's EFL Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool at Anfield. Despite being short of a player, the Gunners produced a spirited defensive show and frustrated the Jurgen Klopp side to secure a goalless draw. 

Following Granit Xhaka's red card, the midfielder took to Instagram to apologise to Arsenal fans. "I want to apologise to everyone. I am so proud of my team and the spirit they showed to keep a clean sheet tonight," he wrote. The red card against Liverpool came just two weeks after Xhaka picked a mindless one against Manchester City on New Year's Day that eventually led to a defeat.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka)

Football pundits are in no mood to defend the 29-year-old, adding that the classic Granit Xhaka narrative has been proved as he continues to push the panic button. Jamie Carragher, former Liverpool great, left no stones unturned to call out Xhaka's 'ridiculous' foul. Insisting that the red card against Liverpool was another example of the midfielder letting his younger teammates down, Carragher added, "Xhaka does what Xhaka does."

"From the outside looking in, every manager picks him, so I think he must be a good character, a good trainer and a good lad. He is a good player; we have seen that in a Switzerland shirt and at times in an Arsenal shirt. But it does get to the stage where he is a liability in terms of what we saw tonight," Carragher told Sky Sports in their post-match analysis.

Recalling Xhaka's red card during the Premier League clash against Manchester City on January 1, Carragher added, "It just happens too much now. He's not a young lad where you think he'll learn from experience. He's one of their experienced players, and that's the one thing that is stopping Arsenal from making that next step."

Carragher also noted that Arteta's young team has put up a good show so far, but the senior players in the group are letting down Arsenal. "I'm so impressed with Mikel Arteta and these young players and what they've shown this season, but actually, experienced players in the team are the ones letting the young players down. It's normally the other way around, and that's a massive problem for Arsenal going forward," Carragher opined.

Also read: Arsenal remains attractive destination for world-class footballers, believes manager Mikel Arteta

Will Granit Xhaka's narrative change? Carragher believes it will never change, adding that despite the Swiss international playing more than 250 games, 'that is a player they have to move on.'

Calling Granit Xhaka's red card as 'absolutely stupid', football pundit Sam Matterface told talkSPORT that many people were annoyed with the midfielder following his Manchester City penalty, and now he has proven people right. 

Meanwhile, former Aston Villa and Chelsea striker Andy Townsend insisted that the incident is further evidence that the fundamental problem with Xhaka is that he gets exposed when he is in that deep-lying position. "Xhaka always panics because he does not have the legs. Let Jota take the ball! If he scores, he scores. Take it on the chin. But do not throw a leg into the player's chest and ask the question!" Townsend told talkSPORT.

Paul Merson, a former English footballer and Sky Sports television pundit, felt that it was too harsh to single out Granit Xhaka over the red card because Arsenal's defence overall was in disarray with Liverpool stepping up their counter-attack strategy. 

"It wasn't what I've seen over the years from Granit Xhaka where I think, 'What have you done that for?' I wouldn't have a go at him there. One, he's tracking back. He could have got lazy and said, I'm not doing that. Also, there are too many players in that situation who were in no man's land. It ends up with Xhaka getting another red card, but if it were Kieran Tierney who got sent off, we would have said it was unlucky," Merson said.

Granit Xhaka remains a crucial figure in the Emirates. Only Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have played more minutes for the Gunners since the Spaniard took over as the North London club manager. The Swiss international's Manchester City red card proved costly for the team in a game they should have ideally won. And although Arsenal was able to hold on to a draw in his absence against Liverpool, Mikel Arteta now faces a problem with Xhaka's error that could prove costly for Arsenal.

Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are away at AFCON, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been loaned to Roma, and Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe are unfit to play. Granit Xhaka's suspension now leaves Arteta with Albert Sambi Lokonga as their only fit midfielder to face Tottenham on Sunday.

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