Granit Xhaka: Scapegoat

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal gestures to his team mates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on August 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Something about a Swiss giant roaming the Emirates Turf performing questionable sliding challenges has got football twitter on his back. But how bad is Granit Xhaka? 

Well, let me bring you in on a little secret, he’s better than you think. In fact, I’d go as far to say he is good. At 25 years old, he is putting up better numbers than the widely lauded, ‘prime’ Moussa Dembélé and the magisterial Serbian destroyer Nemanja Matić. He averages more chances (1.14), more tackles (1.52) and drops an assist more frequently (7 in total) than the other two defensive midfielders. Not bad for a Scapegoat.

The introduction of Uruguayan hero Lucas Torreira alongside the new boss Unai Emery is sure to solidify things in an often flimsy Arsenal midfield. It’s clear as day that the deeper role has not suited him since his arrival to London Colney and he has expressed a desire to play higher up the pitch. A key theme from the Xhaka-hating side of Twitter is his involvement in opposition goals. He has directly allowed three goals from his mistakes last season (Thanks Squawka) and that, to be fair, has warranted significant criticism. With Torreira’s involvement in the side, however, his defensive struggles could vanish.

A reduction in his defensive responsibilities would allow the Swiss captain to flourish at Arsenal and we are sure to see more of his fleeting cross-field balls and rocket-fueled, long-range belters as he grows into a new role in a new era at Arsenal. We wish you the best of luck, Granit.

EDIT: Well well well, Granit Xhaka is performing. His free-kick against Palace and the reduction in questionable slide tackles I mentioned earlier has Granit Xhaka looking remarkably good. Add a captain’s armband and we are looking at a rejuvenated central-midfielder. Torreira as per my Nostradamus-esque prediction has certainly solidified a stereotypically brittle Arsenal midfield, giving them a bite that we hadn’t seen since the days of Patrick Vieira. Feast your eyes.

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