Granit Xhaka – De Facto Captain




Good day one and all.

I was talking to my old ally @shotta_gooner and he asked me “Why were you so vocal in your support of Xhaka, when almost everyone else had set against him?”  . That got me thinking and as you can see, writing.

First thing is to try to understand why “almost everyone else had set against him”. It’s not good enough for me to say that I understand football and the majority of fans, pundits and bloggers are eejits, that would just be inflammatory, and you know me, I wouldn’t want to be doing that.

I believe that Xhaka became the lightening rod for the bilge that Emery was serving up week in and week out. Mesut and Torreira were  hardly playing, so they were not blamed, Xhaka was the only established midfielder that always played in a midfield that was totally dysfunctional, it couldn’t keep the ball, support the forwards or protect the defence, and so the easy answer was to blame Xhaka. As we know, simpletons love a simple answer to complicated questions. What confused me the most at this time , was how Guendouzi was being lauded. On twitter I had a discussion with @GeoffArsenal, he ran a poll :-

So there you go, while Guendouzi was scurrying around the pitch, contributing one assist and no goal  in a season and a half, Xhaka was blamed. To me it madness that anyone should think Guendouzi should start before Xhaka, in any system or set up, functional or dysfunctional, but for 92% of fans to think it? Dear oh dear oh dear.

Yesterday someone asked a question about Xhaka on twitter and this reply caught my eye

There are loads of stats available if you want to check the worth of this tweet.

For years we were told that we needed a bit of steel in midfield, well since the day Granit arrived no player or team has bullied him. When thousands of fans tried to bully him recently, he told them to “F*ck off”, and when the club tried to bully him into making a groveling apology, he refused and chose instead to leave (something that hopefully he now won’t do). The man will not be bullied by  anyone, what more steel do we want?

Whether we think Emery was right to ask the players to elect the captain is irrelevant, he did, and they elected Xhaka. That would mean that they view him as the best leader, trust and respect him. That’s the players, you know, the ones that actually play and matter?

We know for a fact that Bayern Munich were keen to have him as a replacement for Xabi Alonso and Mikel has said that City were also very interested, so “bang average” he is not.

When asked about Xhaka , Pep said he was a great player, Arsene said that he was an intelligent player and Arteta said this:-

“I had a conversation with him and I wanted to understand his feelings,That’s first, and his reasoning why he was thinking it probably wasn’t the right place for him to continue his career.
“I gave him my opinion, my perspective, and I told him that I was ready to support him from the club perspective, and I wanted his team-mates to have his back to help him to change his mind. We need him.
“I believe that if we’re able to do that, the fans will respond in a positive way. I’ve seen him act every day, how he trains and how he lives his profession, as well as the quality of the player. I think he could be a really important player for the club. From my perspective, I don’t want him to leave. I said no to the club and I said no to him! After, in life, I cannot control what happens.”

That sounds like a nonnegotiable opinion to me, as Mikel might call it.

I have always said that Xhaka is the most important player we have, not the best, that would be Ozil, but like Arteta was himself, the key to how we play when we are playing well. He makes us tick and Ozil can then make us purr. Does he have weaknesses? Yes, he does, every player does, but his strengths massively outweigh his flaws. Just look how well the Swiss team has done with him having the keys, a tiny international team plays good football and punches well above their weight.

Of course you are free to disregard my opinion, and that of Pep, Arsene and Arteta, and choose instead to align with such mega brains as Paul Merson, I understand that, but that would make you……. well…. how to put it? An eejit?

O Captain! My Captain!


22 comments on “Granit Xhaka – De Facto Captain

  1. good read George. Also good to know that Xhaka is staying and the team seems to be stabilizing under Arteta.

    Wonder will the idiot WOBS who slagged Ozil Xhaka Mustafi and most of the Wenger boys, left in the squad will keep on slagging them after Arteta gets better results than Unai Emery?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well said George, and a good analysis on why Granit was not flavour of the month this last season or so.

    Personally I think it is even more simple than your otherwise perfectly valid ‘lightning rod’ theory – the Arse fans, as a block, just HAVE to have a scapegoat of choice immediately on hand in order to vent their over-entitled, frustrated little egos.

    The few doubts I had about him were reduced still further when he was caught swearing at the fans – as you say, refusing to be bullied, refusing to apologise.

    Let’s never underestimate the foolishness of so many of the club’s followers – especially the online ones. The recent chaos surrounding the appointment of Arteta as Coach/Manager/Future Messiah was shambolic bordering on laughable as high profile Twitter accounts swayed first one way (‘inadequate experience’) then the other, at the first sign of progress, then the success v Manure.

    It really has reached the point of being fairly pointless now to engage directly with those you might imagine know better. That so many are behaving more like politicians grasping for the Zeitgeist rather than merely fans who have incidentally picked up a following, has further exposed them in a less than flattering light.

    That these idiots may have turned a fanbase against a huge managerial prospect had a couple more early results not gone our way, doesn’t bear thinking about. It really does put their abominable behaviour towards Arsene Wenger in a new, even less forgivable light.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The twitteeratis and blogger’s like Geoff, Pedro Merson etc who thought Arteta will discard Ozil and Xhaka ,have no place to hide now after Arteta had clearly expressed his intentions that both are in his plans for the rebuild after UE has damaged the team.
    It also shows the level of footballing brain these idiots at AFTV Legroan Geof Pedro Merson have in their heads.

    And Let me repeat George after your headline that Xhaka is De facto Captain


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Strange how Pep wanted to buy Xhaka, Arsene did and played him all the time, so did Emery and Lungberg, and now Arteta sings his praises. The Swiss coach not only picked him as first choice but made him captain of a team that has done really well under his leadership. Emery played Xhaka, Torreira and Ozil out of position, so surprise, surprise they did not perform as well as they can. Now Arteta has played the three in their best position and low and behold they are now all playing better. Emery destroyed our team, constantly changing tactics and playing players in new positions to fit his tactics and not the ability of the players. No wonder the team looked lost. It seems like Arteta has already made a difference by his team selection and tactical ideas. I believe that each player in the Arsenal squad are top quality, even Mustafi who just needs guidance and if he responds will also shine. The future could be really bright for Arsenal. Let’s support the manager and all the players.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great stuff. I think/hope I’ve always been pretty consistent in liking Xhaka.

    He gets extra credit for me for his adaption to the Pgmol/media attempt to neuter him with the two very harsh red cards and endless campaign against his supposed recklessness.

    Among so many things that could be discussed- with someone who for me is a fascinating, very watchable player- is the way he has exposed as bullshit so much of the media criticism. For how many years have they called us soft, insisted we need tougher players, etc, and yet has there been a single time when they have admitted he is anything but that, and is in fact undeniably a tough competitor?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They do a similar thing with Luiz, although in his case there had been talk of him being a liability etc long before.

    Point stands though. It’s not like they say ‘well, he can be a liability [Luiz] but he is a fierce player, which is what we’ve always said Arsenal need more of’

    Liked by 1 person

  7. > Xhaka underperformed under Unai Emery
    > Guendouzi is a circus
    > Pepe was misused
    > Torreira was over looked
    > Ozil was over looked
    > Laca was over looked
    > Our entire defence was misused and abused

    We did not have a coach


  8. Could have added another 3 to managers who have rated him by way. Dortmund’s now coach, and pal of Wenger, Favre, plus current Swiss coach, and former one, twice world coach of year, Der General, Ottmar Hitzfeld.

    But hey, Phil Neville knows…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Top work George, and let’s hope he does stay and forge an outstanding partnership with Torreira for the rest of the season and beyond. I think that one reason for so called fans to have dismissed him is the role played by the main TV pundits whose role is to analyse play and explore the defensive errors that lead to goals. What they say (and they have had several occasions when they have been able to highlight Granit’s mistakes) sticks in the kind and gives ready-made opinions to the fan in the street. So if Gary Neville says Xhaka is slow, or positionally naive, or casual, or dirty, that tends to become accepted wisdom.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Excellent read.
    What really and finally turned me against Emery, to the point where I could hardly look at him on TV, was they way he threw Xhaka under a bus , on the pitch, and with his dithering over captaincy, then refused to back his man when things went wrong, instead stripped him of the captaincy over a very human and understandable reaction, after several weeks, citing mental health problems with the player!!!
    Emery showed cowardice, imagine what the squad , especially Xhakas supporters thought of that, that said performances showed exactly what they thought.
    Basically , instead of taking a proper and rightful stand, emery pandered to the likes of AFTV and the media. Despicable.
    If Raul or someone above had told him to strip Xhaka of the captaincy, to me that is still cowardice, from what we are reading of Arteta, he wouldn’t be such a soft touch.
    The fact is, some, ( Raul) wanted to give Emery a new deal last summer, confirmed now by emery, but someone senior to Raul, assuming JK, SK or both wouldn’t have it. emery knew he was on thin ice the start of this season, and he went into self preservation mode at the expense of the team, that and a litany of other mistakes.
    On the pitch, Emery’s strange formations, and playing Torriera as a 10 , FFS ,left Xhaka too big an area for anyone human to patrol. Yet, Arteta seems to have quickly solved this conundrum, by restoring LT to his natural role, with Xhaka alongside him, that and a few other tweaks seems at this stage to be starting to pay dividends.
    If it is true Auba is leaving this summer, Arteta should then make Xhaka club skipper , to right a big wrong inflicted on a very decent player who has been badly let down by the club. The Kroenkes aren’t fools, I strongly suspect Raul has had his wings clipped by now, Emery was a colossal mistake that could have had dire consequences, this will hopefully put Arteta in a very powerful position, more manager than head coach, whatever his title. We need football people making football decisions again, it is just possible Arteta may have felt empowered to raise this in his interview

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I agree with you 100%.

    Over the last 18 months, I have asked time and again on various blogs what it is the Guendouzi does, other than run around a lot, and no one has responded.

    I am delighted to see that you seem to have the same view.

    I think that it will take a while for Arteta to cure the damage done by UE, so we should not expect that the defeat of manure meant that it was plain sailing from now on.

    We still need to take each game as it comes but the correct use of Torreira and Ozil is an important and effective start.

    I wonder if he will be tempted to use the second team tomorrow or whether he will use mainly the players from the manure game.

    Leeds are top of the Championship and a good team, we cannot afford not to take them seriously.

    In any event, with so many injured players, do we have a competent second-team any more?

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I would imagine Guen was doing primarily what Emery asked him, no wonder his role was a little confused. Hopefully , time with Arteta and his team will give him a bit more focus and tactical discipline, he is a youngster so will have a lot to learn.
    Have always felt that one of many problems with emery, he wasn’t given the players he may have wanted and maybe asked for, so tried to shape those he had into those he wanted. But turning Guen or Xhaka into Banega/ Nzonzi , or others from Emerys past was no doubt a non starter . As for Torriera, that was just a total brain fcuk, and a heightist one at that
    Know there is no point at this stage, but would just be so intrigued to hear Emerys side of the story, what the hell he was actually trying to do. A guy who won three Europa leagues, did so well with little Almiera, was chosen by the richest club on the planet cannot be a total fuckwit? Can he?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Totally agree George. Guendouzi was always thrown into situations that he wasn’t ready for. He is lightweight and gives the ball away on a regular basis but once again like Zhaka they were working within midfield and defensive systems that were chaos.
    As frustrating as watching the Arsenal has been I did feel sorry for a number of players that were set up to fail and as a youngster that is tough and effects growth and development.
    However Xhaka is strong, determined and no fool and wasn’t going to take all the negativity towards him lying down.
    Notice how I have placed all my observations in past tense!
    I have every confidence that Arteta will build bridges as he understands that letting Xhaka go in January would be detrimental to what he is trying to achieve.
    Go Xhaka Go

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s worth remembering that Arteta, an exceptional player, was also the target of “simpletons (who) love a simple answer to complicated questions.” So he will understand what Xhaka is experiencing & will have suggestions for ignoring the eejits.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Top post George. I’ve always said that young Matteo Guendouzi is going to be Emery’s hill and boy was that true.

    For all his potential he never deserved to be a nailed-on starter. Emery knew that, so he accommodate him by pushing both Xhaka and Torreira out of position and Özil to the bench.

    I like Xhaka and don’t care much whose fragile feelings got hurt when he told fans where to get off. They had it coming so fair play to him.

    He clearly wanted out but throughout he still kept his head by being professional during training and matches under Arteta. We all know too well how Ox couldn’t give a damn in that match vs Liverpool when he wanted out, less said about Alexis the better. Yet each time Xhaka stepped out on the field in the midst of transfer speculation he still left his heart out there. He did so by keeping those around him in line to stick to our gameplan to their best of his abilities. Because although he lost the title of captain he didn’t lost the respect of those around him everyday. Attaboy Xhaka!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. this thread makes me repeat something I said last week about Mesut Ozil

    Ozil is not doing anything different under Arteta than he has done all his career, even under Emery, only difference under Arteta to that of when Emery was in charge is that Mikel Arteta has enough football knowledge and enough first hand knowledge of Ozil to actually have other players in position to take advantage of the things Ozil does. He has the guys in place now to get the ball to Ozil, and then he has guys in place to get the ball from Ozil. This was always the problem we had with Emery, his negative tactics meant we found it hard to get the ball to Ozil, and even harder for Ozil to find guys to pass it on to.
    Exact same thing for Xhaka, he was receiving the ball in the wrong places, and when he looked to play it where he naturally wanted to play it to, there was no one there and no one going there.
    You don’t ask a nurse to do a doctors job, you don’t ask an air steward to do a pilots job, he don’t ask a plumber to do an electricians job, but Emery asked a DLP to be a DM, an ACM to be DM and a DM to be ACM, how the fuck he ever thought it could ever be a success I don’t know,

    Liked by 2 people

  17. the Ghoulish side of me would love to be a fly on the wall at Emery’s next interview, and how he explains some of his tactics and man management.
    As I posted earlier, he must have his own side to the story, but damned if I know what it could be
    Talking of negative tactics, a less than auspicious start for the special one, he will soon be banging on Mr Levy’s door, spreading his unique brand of misery through the club if he doesn’t get his way.
    Sacking Poch for the latter day Jose, let’s see how history will judge that one

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Arteta (if he will make Xhaka Captain again) : “I don’t know, time will tell that. Now he’s happy to stay here, he’s completely committed and that’s a big plus today.”

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Ed at 644

    Well said Re Ozil and Xhaka. How Emeryball was a problem for them and the whole team going forward.

    I think we criticise Emeryball but to be fair he was never going to be a sucess at Arsenal as the Wengerboys were trauned to play the Wengerball system.

    As soon as Emery departed and Freddie was given the charge the Wengerball was back and we looked like a team and not like Guen running here & there like a headless chicken .


  20. I always said that he was a very good player, playing in the wrong position when I see him playing for Switzerland he is outstanding. When Terriera came and played that Holding role he looked much better, but then Terriera started going forward and leaving Xhaka to hold he is not the best tackler and got exposed. I then forgot about how good he is and went with the crowd at the start of the season, but it showed when he was out of the team exactly what he gives us

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The way we started the game I feared a humiliating defeat. We were all over the place, rattled by Leeds’ pressing, with our players yelling at each other and the grumbles from the crowd at half-time did not bode well. I don’t know what Arteta said or did at half-time, but it was a very different Arsenal team that came out in the second-half. One-nil to The Arsenal was a very welcome outcome in the end and the recovery continues. Well done Mikel and the boys.

    Liked by 1 person

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