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!