You can analyse incidents in isolated moments or you can spread them across time to paint a clearer picture of what’s going on
Granit Xhaka; jeered and booed by his own fans, on the face of it looks like a horrifying moment. I don’t like it when we boo our own, I found it disgusting when folk in my stand used to do it to Theo Walcott, I find it embarrassing when they do it now.
However, it’d be unwise to cast this as a ‘bad fans / sad indictment of the social media generation’ type of incident.
Simply put, Granit Xhaka has been one of the worst signings of the past decade. He has never been well-liked by the fans and for good reason. He’s not built for the league, he has consistently been one of the most error-prone players in the squad, and he’s not a leader.
Unai Emery was so petrified of his decision to award a bang average player the armband, he waited until September, then leaked a sham captains election to solidify his skinny case for the defence.
Xhaka is a tactical liability for Arsenal. Not only that, he’s also demonstrated a real lack of leadership this season. This was him after his embarrassing Spurs mistake.
“We had a lot of chances, but this is football, nobody speaks about the chances, about how many we missed, always they speak about mistakes. That’s a part of football.”
This is our captain after the Watford game.
‘“We were scared in the second half. We knew they would come at us and push us hard but we have to show more character and not be scared.’
Scared? Can you imagine Tony Adams going on the record with such a stark admittance?
This is Xhaka after being jeered, presumably for slow-walking when we’re chasing 3 points at home to Crystal Palace.
He appeared to mouth ‘fuck off’ twice to the fans. Say what you will about how it must feel to be booed, that sort of response is not cool. You represent the badge and the fans are all that matters to your standing. He could have turned that moment on its head if he’d been smart, but instead, he played into the circus, now he’s on the backfoot.
He can’t even fall back on the decision being a poor one.
60 minutes of Xhaka on the pitch, Palace completed 219 passes, had 4 shots on target. Arsenal had 7 attempts, 3 on target (2 from corners).
30 minutes of Xhaka off the pitch, Palace completed 39 passes. Had 0 shots o target off 2 attempts. Arsenal had 8 attempts, 3 on target. We also had a fair goal disallowed.
It is not in debate whether he is good for the team. We are better with Xhaka on the bench. Baffling that Emery is only just realising this, but he is. He took his captain off on 69 minutes against Sheffield United, then removed the Swiss on 60 minutes today… which is a real fuck-you-very-much move.
Now the manager has a really tough decision to deal with. He has Mesut Ozil sitting in the stands for reasons he can’t disclose, but he did give us this.
“Here we have one agreed strategy as a club and a team. Because the most important thing is the club, the team and finding a performance.”
I am completely game for brutal decision making in the world of elite-level sport, you just have to be consistent. The manager made Mesut Ozil one his five captains in September, then he bombed him into exile, apparently because he’s poor in training. If it’s performance, I can get onboard with that, but you have to be consistent. Granit Xhaka almost never gives us a performance, fans were complaining that he was a 6 out of 10 today because that’s a good day in the office. If poor performances are an issue, why does Granit seem to be immune to the bench? There has to be consistency. Additionally, telling the fans to fuck off is presumably not a good look for Emery or exec leadership?
I also think we need to talk about the manager’s general performance. Palace completed more passes than Arsenal up until 55 minutes. A team that treats ball like an ebola grenade, completing more passes than us, in our backyard? It’s abhorrent to think that our game has sunk to those depths. Emery is destroying our identity on the pitch, he chips away a little of our pride in every outing, and we don’t even have results to show for it.
We have very little squad stability. The Mesut story is totally out of control, now we have a captain that just pushed the nuclear button on live TV, and we’re floundering in the league. Things are so bad, no one is paying attention to the fact our two star strikers are heading into the ‘we have to sell’ moment in their deals. Auba is final year next summer, Lacazette is at the point where he’d be sold if we take Raul at his word.
This situation we’re in is going to get worse. We haven’t hit the bottom yet, but believe me, we’re going to find it. Our plan is Champions League football. We seem to be betting on a manager with no vision to deliver that. We’re in ‘get it over the line’ mode. That’s not a real plan. We should be investing in a footballing philosophy we can build around. Emeryball is not that. His style of football a dog with wheels for back legs trying to climb the stairs. One step forward, 3 back.
The club needed to invest in a vision. We should have done that when we replaced Arsene Wenger. Find a young coach with an attachment to the fans. Map the coach to the vision of football you want to see. Build the backroom team around that. Sign players that fit the mold for the style you want. That coach could have been Freddie, Paddy, or Arteta. The plan Chelsea are activating is what a lot of us wanted when we replaced Wenger. They’ve set the bar low, told the fans this season is about the kids, and they’ve hired someone exicting they already love. Chelsea might not make the top 4 this season, but Frank Lampard is a young coach with an attachment to locals, one they’ll give time to, and one that believes in good football. He already has his kids playing better than Arsenal.
If we’d take that approach, could it really have been any worse than a sauceless manager that shipped out Ramsey, binned Mesut Ozil after making him captain, made Granit Xhaka captain, and gave us anti-football? It’s so sad, fans are clamouring for Jose Mourinho. Think about that.
So a point against Palace. We’re tanking our easy games. If you’re honest, we were lucky against Burnley and Villa. Not a single good performance this season. It’s bad. It’s only the beginning. Wait until December. Emery is an out and out disaster.
See you in the comments.