Xhaka reveals some of the reasons behind his Arsenal struggle

by .


Black Friday over here today, it’s a little like an Arsenal November, full of promise, light on the quality of return and the chance you might come home with an injury,

Badum tscchhhh!

Great start. Great start.

So on the continued saga of Granit Xhaka, who seems like the kind of purchase you make, deeply regret, then try and find another use for… the man himself has come out in the press to reveal some of the inner workings of what’s going on (via @AFCSTUFF and Viasat).

‘Arsenal knew how I played when they signed me. It can be both positive or negative, but that’s the way I play.

‘Playing rough is my playing style. If someone takes that away from me, I will no longer be Granit Xhaka.’

‘The boss has high expectations on me, but during the games, I have what you would call a ‘free role”

Deary me. So it seems that Granit believes two things, firstly, his lack of first team chances appear to thread from too much aggression. Secondly, Arsene Wenger has dropped him into ‘free role’ territory.

This raises a few interesting talking points. Firstly, in the modern game, dropping someone like Xhaka into a free role seems a bit, well, reckless? He’s used to playing a certain way under coaches that are far more prescriptive, now he’s being given a free role… which might point to the reasons he seems to lack discipline. Players at Arsenal don’t usually give too much away about how Wenger coaches them, but you’d have to imagine that Aaron Ramsey gets the same ‘do what you like, mate’ treatment as well.

The second point about the aggression is interesting as well. For a club consistently accused of having a soft underbelly and a glass jaw, surely having some tried and tested steel in our starting 11 is a welcome addition? Can’t for the life of me work out why a manager who boasted one of the meanest teams in Prem history would opt to beat the aggression out of a player whose game depends on it?

Also interesting that someone pointed out that the reckless nature of his new game might be related to having to make tackles higher up the pitch.

So in short, you can look at this as a genius behaviour from Wenger, or you can look at it as another clumsy signing and another clear showing that perhaps the man in charge isn’t quite up there with the younger coaches coming through.

This isn’t exactly the first example of Wenger having positional issues with his players. Jack Wilshere, who I don’t believe will be playing this weekend suffered similar problems under Wenger, was he an Ozil, a deeplying playmaker or a DM? He didn’t know. So no surprise he struggled.

You also have Theo Walcott who was consistently thrown the… ‘you could be a superstar striker’ bone, despite it being obvious he’d never be right for that role. Then you have Ramsey, and who the f*ck knows where he’ll be playing this weekend. Chamberlain sees himself centrally, but we’ve seen him all over the front three as well as newly at right back. I mean, our midfield really is a bit of a confusion pot at the moment.

Back on the Xhaka thing. I also think it’s odd that bar the penalty against Spurs, Xhaka didn’t put a foot wrong, then he finds himself benched. His number in attack and defence were total boss, just seems odd that he’d be dropped for a very dodgy penalty, for two games as well.

On the, ‘EVERYTHING IS ODD’ narrative, doesn’t it seem strange that Theo Walcott didn’t get a look in during midweek? Or even Chamberlain. Both in fairly good form, surely they’d have offered something to the game?

BACK TO JACK, he’s played 11 games for the Cherries this season, even completing 90minutes. I don’t mean to harp on, but what would the chances be of Arsenal subbing him 10 times to protect his fragile body? Good that he’s finding his feet at Bournemouth. Eddie how is extracting the best out of him after a bit of a bland start. He’s not hitting Ozil like heights, no goals or assists, but he has hit the woodwork a lot. I don’t have the number though. So sorry.

Eddie Howe has been singing the praises of Arsenal, hopefully so he can nab more players, not because he has a new contract to sign when Wenger moves upstairs.

‘There’s a lot to admire about Arsenal. They always stick to their philosophies and are very loyal to their style of play.’

So sweet to say.

Right, not a lot to come from the prezzer, Wenger says we need to create and score more goals otherwise our unbeaten run won’t be sustainable, he also says we’re missing Santi because he provides the link to our attack… sure does, can’t imagine a player who might be a solve for that?

Till tomorrow x

94 Responses to “Xhaka reveals some of the reasons behind his Arsenal struggle”

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  1. Goonereris

    Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic plays in a free role these days, racking up assists, in the process. With Xhaka’s passing range and shooting ability, he could do a job in such a role.

  2. Jonraid

    Same. Anyone other than Wenger is an upgrade. At least worth a try with nothing else to lose. How pathetic we have come… Lol

  3. Jonraid

    I suspect Steve is DM in disguise. Telling us gg on holiday so that ppl don’t suspect he has no life, except keeping watch with Pedro’s post every day. Haha…

  4. azed

    Conte over Wenger everyday.

    Conte wouldn’t condone the ” I’m a legend” playing style or Ramsey.
    Conte would not wait on till the 65th minute to make a change.

  5. Dream10


    Jack being offered a new deal is terrible news. He’ll probably get a deal till 2021 at 120k a week. Never an Arsenal player put on such a pedestal like him. Signing him to this type of deal rules bringing in a quality CM who is/has the potential to be top class.

  6. vicky


    Yes, he should prove himself first at Bournemouth before being considered for any contract renewal. He must show he can play an entire season and contribute as well. He’s talented but contracts should be renewed based upon performance and fitness, not talent alone.

  7. Dream10


    It’s not even a question of fitness. He’s good at certain things but deficient in key areas. For the wages he’ll command, we can get better. He’s a 7/10 player who’s packaged as being a 9/10 player. You look at players like Verratti and Kovacic. That’s the quality we should be aspiring to.

  8. Richard robbins

    Your Comment Here. Is anyone wondering why chamberlain gets so little time? With fifty assistant coaches; is no one there ballsy enough to get Arsene to wake up with lineup changes? Here we go again; Deja vu all over again.

  9. Red&White4ever

    “They always stick to their philosophies and are very loyal to their style of play.’
    Both gone long ago.

    “Pedro, given a choice would u prefer Conte or Wenger managing Arsenal?”
    Is this a serious question ?? (lol)

  10. jwl

    Joke Friday:

    A guy walks into a bar and orders a drink. He sees another guy drinking, and notices he is sitting next to a tiny person playing a piano on the bar.

    “Nice piano player” the guy says. “Where did you get that.”

    The drinking guy reaches into his pocket and pulls out a lamp. Here, rub the lamp and you will get three wishes, he says. “Just make sure you speak clearly”

    The guy rubs the lamp, and a genie appears. “You have three wishes” the genie says.

    “A million bucks!” The guy shouts, and with the nod of the genies head, one million ducks appear in the bar, quacking and flapping about.

    Disappointed the guy says, “I didn’t ask for a million ducks!”

    His drinking buddy leans over and mutters, “Do you think I asked for an 11 inch pianist?”

  11. Bamford10


    “If [we] have a midfield with Xhaka-Ramsey-Ozil, and ahead of them Iwobi-Alexis-Theo. It’s quite balanced.”

    “This squad is pretty perfect in terms of player profile … [It’s] a complete squad. Only thing lacking is a world class no. 9.”

    You seem pretty optimistic about the squad and its possibilities, which on one level I can understand.

    In theory, a central midfield of Xhaka-Ramsey-Ozil sounds quite solid. But this seems only to be true when one imagines each of these three at his best and when one imagines the three working together as a unit. But have we seen this in practice? I’d say no.

    As for a “complete squad,” I’d say our central midfield remains dubious. Again, when you imagine these players at their best, our midfield seems class. But in reality or in practice, when have we seen this?

    Could Ramsey be a great CM? Sure, if he tidied up his game, became more consistent. Could Xhaka be a great CDM? Maybe, though I wonder about his ability to cover ground and his decision-making. Could Ozil be a great complement to them? Maybe, but only if he actually played in midfield in combination with them, only if he showed up in big games, etc.

    My main questions are: what was the key to our quality of play earliee in the season? Was this more a matter of weak opponents than it was our quality? Why has our level fallen so? etc.

  12. Cesc Appeal

    Set up so nicely, RB Leipzig have to go to Munich right before the four week winter break in Germany, amazing if they go into that break top of the Bundesliga.

  13. grooveydaddy

    Wenger on Xhaka (yesterday)

    “He’s more a deep playmaker than a box-to-box player. He does not get into the final third of the opposition a lot, he’s more a guy who has a fantastic pass to play through the lines,” he said. “He’s more a guy who gets the ball from the defenders and finds the high midfield. His strength is what we call the moderate value pass, that means the pass comes from deep midfield to high midfield.”

    or….(from Sept 16)

    ‘I personally prefer him as a box-to-box player, because he has the engine, he has the power, he has the long pass, he likes to come deep and distribute the game. But he has the engine to have the impact with his runs.’

  14. underrated Coq

    Wenger is as clueless as they come, why do you think Ramsey struggles so much? He has bags of talent, every attribute necessary to become the coveted ‘complete midfielder’. And yet….

    The same fate awaits Xhaka,I’m afraid.

  15. Joe


    Just another example of wenger’s bollocks.

    He has no clue about anything. Loser

    “Samir’s situation is clear for me,” Wenger said. “He stays. We are in a [financial] position where we can say ‘No’ and we will, in the case of Samir.” Wenger said that it was better to keep Nasri for another season and risk losing him for nothing than to sell him to United or City before the closure of the transfer window, even if it represented a £20m gamble.

    “You are the same people who reproach me for not spending money and now you reproach me for wanting to spend it,” he added, with a smile. “It is in the interests of the club. Fábregas is in no-man’s land … Imagine the worst situation, that we lose Fábregas and Nasri; you cannot convince people that you are ambitious after that.”

    Sold days later. Both of them.


  16. igbo Amadi-Obi

    I didn’t think that being given a free role is an excuse for playing without discipline, if indiscipline means kicking players after they ran past you. We have given a few players the free role in the past and they didn’t see it as a licence to kick legs. Like Pedro cited, Ramsey gets the free role too, and is not known to hack at people. He should go look how Wanyama does it.

    On playing people out of position, I thought it was indicative of inventiveness and flexibility on the side of the manager, rather than rigidity or staleness.

    And About Theo and co not getting action midweek, it has always been argued that Wenger doesn’t rotate enough and plays people till they break. I guess he’s rotating a bit more.

  17. tunnygriffboy

    After 3 iffy performances when we haven’t won ( haven’t lost either ) we need to have a good result against a capable Bournemouth side who have plenty of skill ans pace on the counter.

    Bearing in mind we have Southampton midweek where most of our regulars will get a rest my team for tomorrow will be


    Jenks Mustafi Kos Gibbs

    Ramsey or Elneny Xhaka

    Walcott Ozil Ox


    I worry about Jenkinson. If Debuchy is fit I’d play him. Iwobi hasn’t been great lately so I’d bring Ox in for a few games. Xhaka has to start for his creativity and with Santi out he should get a run of games.

    Although Giroud is scoring I prefer the mobility and movement Alexis offers. He was so deep midweek he hardly got into the penalty area. Giroud can come off the bench continuing to do what he’s been doing brilliantly all season.

    We need a win to lift morale and to let people know we’re still around though Bournemouth are no pushovers and have been playing well this season with a bit of pace up top.

  18. Batistuta


    Jenkinson shouldn’t be playing that game,they’ve got very pacey players,would rather ox there(where else can he play really) or even mustafi with Holding moving centrally

  19. tunnygriffboy


    Debuchy for me if fit

    You know he won’t change it.

    Bournemouth will be slippery and we’ll have to play better than we have been to get a good win

    We’ve had 3 tough fixtures. I was hoping to get4/6 points from spurs/man u games. PSG was always going to be tough. They have better players than us generally. I was hoping home advantage would help us through but we gave them too much respect in the first half an hour.

    Had we played better we would have had a chance of winning those games. As it is we manage not to lose 3 games that we may in the past have lost and we’ve stayed well in touch

    I’m hoping for a much better performance and win tomorrow as it will let peopleknow we’re still about.

    After Bournemouth we have West Ham away and Stoke at home leading into two tough fixtures, Everton midweek then city on the weekend.

  20. Pierre

    Wenger is now saying that xhaka is a deep lying midfielder who passes through the lines and not a box to box midfielder…….. I thought that was obvious, I couldn’t understand why he was referring to xhaka as a box to box mid a couple of months ago . ….. A box to box midfielder is someone like Ramsey (though not very good at it)…… Wenger needs to decide pretty quickly what midfield does he want to play whilst cazorla is out and stick with it or our season could be over within the next 3/4 weeks and also keep the pace in the wide areas and keep Sanchez up front as he is also sets the tempo for closing down the opposition unlike giroud who is too one paced (no pace).

  21. Vote leave

    JoeNovember 26, 2016 05:24:31
    GrooveyJust another example of wenger’s bollocks. He has no clue about anything. Loser “Samir’s situation is clear for me,” Wenger said. “He stays. We are in a [financial] position where we can say ‘No’ and we will, in the case of Samir.” Wenger said that it was better to keep Nasri for another season and risk losing him for nothing than to sell him to United or City before the closure of the transfer window, even if it represented a £20m gamble.“You are the same people who reproach me for not spending money and now you reproach me for wanting to spend it,” he added, with a smile. “It is in the interests of the club. Fábregas is in no-man’s land … Imagine the worst situation, that we lose Fábregas and Nasri; you cannot convince people that you are ambitious after that.”Sold days later. Both of them. Hilarious.

    More proof that it was not Wenger’s decision to sell

  22. reality check

    Thought it was Arsenal F. C not Jack Wilshere F.C

    The guy has added nothing to Arsenals history like Pires or any legend. Or brought us closer to our targets and future success like ozil or sanchez yet we fawn over this guy like he’s Arsenals saviour.

    He’s not even better than Hleb was. Or even a fit Diaby.

  23. tunnygriffboy

    Wilshere hasn’t been fit for 3 seasons. He’s had no chance to build up any sort of match fitness or rhythm in his game. We haven’t really seen what he could do. Hopefully he can play 30 games this season and we can assess what he’s done during that time.

    By all accounts he’s getting stronger, fitter and more involved as the weeks go by.

  24. tunnygriffboy

    For me Xhaka absolutely has to start tomorrow. Alongside him I’d play Ramsey. Let’s really push forward Xhaka will always look forward with his passing. If Ramsey doesn’t start then I’d put Elneny in there.

    Play Alexis upfront, Theo on the right and I’d be inclined to give Ox a run on the left. Iwobi has gone off the boil lately.

    Bournemouth are slippery customers but we need the 3 points to remind people we’re still about

  25. ughelligunner

    conte doesnt sub early too like wenger. Now i know most people dont watch these names they brand about except when they are playing against top opposition that they have the opportunity to watch them. Not saying wenger is better by the way, only saying the reason you need conte is far from the truth

  26. Thank you and goodnight

    I would rather have contes left testicle as manager as opposed to wenger. Same shit this season with same excuses for his ineptitude

  27. ughelligunner

    Wishere may thrive at B’mouth now because he is trying to maintain fitness at a lower team with lesser pressure and media attention. At arsenal, he would have been called upon daily by the media forcing pressure on him. Also, most teams that play against arsenal might target him more than where he is now, due to playing against a bigger opposition.
    Note; teams plan extensively higher against tougher opposition than weaker one. Wilshere is better where he is.

  28. Truth be told

    In the modern game a midfielder should have at least 3 to 4 of these qualities to affect a game. Johan Cruff once stated that midfielders win games

    1.Ability to keep basic position
    2.Ability to make incisive passing that create goal scoring opportunities
    3.Ability to dribble
    4.Ability to run with the ball into dangerous areas
    5.Ability to score goals
    6.Ability to win the ball

    All teams that compete at the highest level Madrid Barca and Bayern have midfielders with at least 4 of these qualities.Modric Busquets Rakitic,Iniesta,Vidal ,Alonso etc

    Dissecting our midfield reveals glaring limitations

    Carzola has it all, (6)
    Xhaka lacks 3 and 4,(4)
    Elnenny lacks all except 1 and 2 (1)
    Ramsey lacks all except 1(1)
    Coq has 1 and 6(2)
    Ozil has it all.(6)

    There is no rocket science to know who should start.

  29. Marc


    If Isco is available we should definitely be in for him as a replacement for Santi. There’s been a lot of talk about Ramsey and Madrid – player plus cash should be pretty easy to do.

  30. tunnygriffboy

    So, young Elneny is off to AFCON for 4 weeks in January. If Santi doesn’t recover we could be down to just 3 CMs, Coquelin, Xhaka and Ramsey. Interesting.

    I see that Mourinho is giving Martial a hard time atm saying if he doesn’t adapt to the clubs new playing style he will find himself out of the squad.

    Now there’s a player I’d love at Arsenal.

  31. tunnygriffboy


    I saw that about Alaba. Be fantastic for us. However I read the article and noticed he’s signed a brand new long term contract recently ** sigh **


    Isco would be a perfect Santi replacement. We’ll need one next season unless it’s JW ** sigh **

    Now Yaya is back for city their squad looks really strong. They’re also likely to add a player or two in January when we know we won’t. ** sigh ** Again 🙂

  32. Cesc Appeal

    I think before we all start talking about transfer targets we really need a change in manager first, adding Isco, Martial or whoever would be great, but the same structural failings would be present, lack of preparation, lack of tactics, mental fragility etc.

    Need a change there first before we talk about personnel.


    Leipzig go to Munich on 21st of December literally just before the four week winter break in Germany, perfectly poised, could head into the winter break with something like a six point lead.

    Quite incredibly really.

  33. kc

    Sure wish there was a black Friday sale on players going on right now. We could sure use them. At a time when our season is about to hit it’s fulcrum we’re missing key players to injury. Very poor planning once again from le senile un. These away games coming up in December will most likely make or break this years campaign.

  34. Bamford10

    Truth be Told

    1. Ability to keep basic position
    2. Ability to make incisive passing that create goal scoring opportunities
    3. Ability to dribble
    4. Ability to run with the ball into dangerous areas
    5. Ability to score goals
    6. Ability to win the ball

    I like your analysis above, but Ozil does not have the ability to win the ball, and his ability to score outside the box remains limited.

    However, I like the analysis.

    Ramsay, I’d say, lacks 1 & 2. He lacks 2 not because he lacks vision or technique but because he is often too self-centered, focused on over-dribbling, etc.

  35. Bamford10

    Truth be Told

    Also, while I have never been fan of Ramsey’s, your analysis of him is silly and unfair. He has many of those things. What he does with them, however … well, that is another thing.

  36. mysticleaves


    thats the headline. guess people wont see that he was pushed from behind which caused the reaction?

    poor decision from the ref to award the pen

  37. T

    Chaka and Rambo are never going to be a working partnership. Why you ask? Because the other is a passmaster player and the other a chaotic coast to coast racer. They would never complement each others weaknesses or make the partnership stronger than the sum of its parts.