Granit Xhaka came in for an unprecedented and undeserved amount of stick, when it was announced that he was to be substituted. With the game in the balance and time running out, he decided to leave the field like he was on a leisurely Sunday stroll.
The fans booed, yet his performance had actually been the same as always, vanilla. Its always unremarkable, unless he gets sent off, scores a 30 yard scorcher, gifts a goal or lumbers into a tackle. That’s Xhaka, that’s who Emery made captain and who was seen as crucial to the side.
Xhaka has never been consistent and never been commanding and Arsenal fans have always had a problem with that. As he trudged off slowly, fans that had ironically cheered when his number was shown turned on him and the boo’s were deafening.
His reaction was to raise his arms, cup his ear and tell them in no uncertain terms to F*$K off. He reached the dugout, ignored his coach and peeled his shirt off, wrapping it up in a ball and after that, who knows what he got up to in the tunnel.
In a few moments of frustrated, unpredictable madness he had disrespected the fans and the club in the most petulant and blatant way possible and if Emery doesn’t address this immediately, he will have more problems than he ever imagined, on and off the pitch.
Emery, who has to take responsibility for making him captain, now needs to remove the unmerited privilege and fine him heavily. Xhaka has also put his career at Arsenal at risk and I can’t see how it’s possible for him to remain at the Emirates.
I’ve never been a fan and those that have followed my blogs here will know that I’m not about to shed tears over his likely departure. However, he was a scapegoat against Palace, an easy target and the player unfairly blamed for another spineless capitulation.
Emery always chose the man that managed to keep Ozil, Ceballos, Guendouzi and Torreira out of the side on occasion. The man that has under performed since his arrival in 2016 and he can’t hide from that fact.
The sane supporters that probably didn’t react to his teenager antics, will now probably agree that he is beyond redemption and my insistence that he be sold for the last three or so seasons now has even greater merit.
Apart from the defence, Arsenal are unable to dominate in the middle and Emery has failed to find the mixture to address this issue. Ozil has been on an endless leave of absence, even though Xhaka is the vastly inferior of the two. This is now a question of the manager’s judgement as if he didn’t have enough to contend with.
Xhaka was purchased for £35m, but he was never good enough as a creative midfielder or defensive midfielder. His close control was average at best, his vision was nothing out of the ordinary. He couldn’t command in any role and lacked the winning attitude and passion of a top flight player.
His price tag outweighed his ability and the two managers in charge at Arsenal since he arrived couldn’t get the best out of him. Quite simply, it hasn’t worked out.
This moment could be seen as a watershed for Emery or it may be the point that is seen as the beginning of the end. Much will depend on the next few results and the player’s ability to overcome such unnecessary distractions.
To think that Aaron Ramsey was shown the door whilst Xhaka remained, makes this even worse. There was a captain, a leader and a game changer and although his injuries were more frequent, he would have been a better investment than the combined worth of Mustafi, Elneny and Xhaka.
To think that Cazorla was shown the door and what might have been if they had only hung on for another three or four months.
Xhaka needs to go, he can never wear Arsenal colours again without being abused on an unimaginable level. I expect Arsenal to fudge the problem until the summer and Emery to perhaps claim injury or illness for his absence. The heat in the kitchen is unbearable and Emery needs to open the door and guide Xhaka through it.