Saturday, February 24, 2024

Wenger: Granit is a fair player…when he stays on his feet

Arsene Wenger says Granit Xhaka is more regularly punished for the fouls he makes because of the position he plays and admits the Switzerland international is still yet to master the art of tackling.

Since signing from Borussia Moenchengladbach the midfielder has received two straight red cards, against Swansea and Burnley in the Premier League, and amassed a further eight yellow cards (3 UCL / 3 PL / 2 FAC), including five in his last five games.

While his reputation as a hard man proceeded him, it’s become obvious to all Arsenal fans and the boss that it’s actually his proclivity to slide in on opponents, usually from behind, that is earning him attention from the officials.

“His tackling can get him sent off,” admitted Wenger when quizzed on the matter for the umpteenth time.

“When he stays on his feet he is a fair player. But he does have a problem with his technique [in terms of tacking]. He hasn’t mastered the art of tackling yet.”

The boss does have some sympathy for Xhaka, especially as he plays his football in an unforgiving part of the pitch.

“I believe he is in a position where his first foul gets a soft yellow card – because he had a history of that in Germany he is a big victim of that.

“But overall he is in a positive way [at the moment] and masters himself a bit better.”

In light of Xhaka’s struggles, there’s been much mashing of teeth in and around N5 about the fact the Gunners missed out on N’Golo Kante, a player the boss confirmed he had approached in the summer about a move to the Emirates.

The France international, who left champions Leicester for Chelsea, has been in fine form for Antonio Conte’s side, not just marshalling the midfield but even chipping in with the odd important goal, as was the case on Monday when his strike knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup.

“Kante is a different type of player,” Wenger said when asked to compare his compatriot with Granit.

“Xhaka is more direct and passes through the lines. Kante steals the ball without making fouls.”

Arseblog News has to admit we couldn’t help but laugh (through the tears) at how cutting that final appraisal sounds. We’re sure it didn’t sound so bad in person.

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No. He’s a dirty cheating foreigner. And Vardy is a fair, honest player who doesn’t dive and get people sent off. TBH I was amused by the ref booking him after that tackle by Emre Can on Iwobi for “talking to the ref as he’s not the captain ” then watched Ashley Young wax lyrical all game to the ref from the moment Herrera got sent off in the FA cup. He even walked off with the refs at halftime talking about what I imagined was some nonsense and I imagined he was either some captain or those officials were… Read more »

dr Strange

Xhaka is s dirty player. I wouldn’t mind if he was tough but he is just nasty.


Couldn’t disagree more, He is very harshly punished, Gets yellows where others would get warnings,


I think it’s too easy to blame the ref as Arsenal fans. Yes, a few decisions against him were a bit harsh but none were ridicuolous. It’s not as if his card friendly approach started at Arsenal too. Deflecting onto the ref masks the problem. He needs to improve that area in his game


The red against Swansea was ridiculous


I thought it was more of a yellow than a red. I don’t think it is ridicuolous red though. It is a very dumb way to commit a tactical foul and could have looked dangerous in addition to cynical as he had no intention to play the ball. He should have pulled his shirt or brought him down in a less cynical way to be safe. This is the kind of thing he needs to improve on in my opinion.

Andy Mack

You can only compare how he’s treated by refs with how other players are treated by refs. Xhaka has been incredibly hard done by.
He’s had Red cards when others do the same and get yellows (or occasionally no card at all). He gets yellow cards when others do the same and get no card.


OK, so rightly or wrongly he’s gained this reputation. What I’d like to see is evidence of him learning now. And that hasn’t happened so far, as we saw last weekend.

It’s not like AW’s been subtle about it. You don’t want your midfield anchor to be going in for all-or-nothing tackles.


No. I don’t agree at all that he’s nasty.

But he doess make it easy for refs to get their cards out.

Both he and Coq need to learn to stay on their feet. They can still foul but if they stay upright its unlikely to result in a yellow.


Coq is scrappy. Xhaka is dumb and dangerous.

Arsene Ginger

This is so typical of most Arsenal fans the past few years. Last summer everyone was crying out for a hard tackling, no nonsense midfielder. Xhaka, in his first season of English football, gets criticised for being just that. While I totally agree with the fact that he has made some rash, stupid tackles, I cannot help but wonder if these naysayers can ever be satisfied. Maybe we should resign Denilson, maybe that will make them happy.


At the moment Xhaka is a nonsense midfielder. You want no-nonsense look at Wanayama. Xhaka is more of a luxury than Ozil even with the season Ozil has had and with our injury list.


There is a difference between a tough tackler and someone who doesn’t know how to tackle. Kante is the first, Xhaka is the second.


Let’s be honest, it’s not been a great first seasons for Granit at Arsenal so far. If there’s any meaning in the rest of the season for us, I would like to see people like Xhaka, Welbz and Lucas (*sob*) make a step forward and become important members of the team, and boot out the mediocrity running through our team at the moment.

Someone's something

Xhaka should analyse the way Arteta played. To me they are similar kind of players. He’s way to slow in one-on-one situation, instead he should focus on staying on his feet and direct the attacker towards a direction. That’s what Arteta did for the most part and I’m aware of the fact that in some matches it often looked like attackers where just running past a cone but if you look at the statistics from those seasons we had some of our best defensive spells. Of course it also had to do with the great partnership of Koscielny, Mertesacker, and… Read more »


Arteta knew where to be. Even when he was beaten for pace, he was where he should have been or thereabouts. Xhaka is too immature to even be let unattended at the mall.


The only reason Kante makes less fouls is because he plays for Chelsea, and Granit plays for Arsenal, that’s it. The two red cards he has picked up this season, for me, were fairly ludicrous decisions by John Moss on both occasions. That sending off against Burnley really hurt our season, I think him being missing from our midfield due to the ban was one of the main reasons why we lost to Watford and then to Chelsea the weekend after. I like the fact he puts a foot in, yeah okay, he CAN be a little reckless at times,… Read more »


Football and refeering has changed since the Vieira, Parlour, Petit, Keane era and footballers have to adapt to that. You just cant make the tackles you could make 15 years ago.
Too easy to say Kante makes less fouls because he plays for Chelsea. He is just better with his decision making when it comes to winning the ball back

bob davis

True, nobody can go in with the crunching tackles we used to see in the old days.

No doubt Kante is having a great season, it just takes time and it is Xhaka’s first season.

Hopefully he can stay on his feet and we can see more of him over the coming weeks!


I think you need to actually go watch a Chelsea game, and see how many systematic fouls they get away with in the middle of the park. They get away with it because Kante is the ‘new toy’ in the Premier League, all the pundits favourite player because he came from plucky little Leicester – If Kante played at Arsenal under Wenger, the pundits would just call him ‘limited’ and he would constantly pick up bookings too. I haven’t seen a single player sent off this season for the two tackles that Granit got sent off for, especially the one… Read more »


Sorry but that’s utter nonsense. I’m a big fan of Xhaka and think he will develop into a great player, but simply at the moment kante is superior in nearly every way. As you say, he’s been here longer so has had to me to adapt, but to say it’s some sort of agenda against us/ in favour of Chelsea is absurd.

A Different George

Kante is playing brilliantly, but he is a great version of Coquelin, not of Xhaka. He covers half the pitch by himself, anticipates opponents’ passes and breaks them up, wins back possession as soon as it is lost. Xhaka, if he develops as we hope, will look a lot more like Xabi Alonso or Busquets than like Kante.


Xhaka is a better creator and better in the air. We needed a player of Xhaka’s mold more than Kante. Imagine if we had our season of injuries and having to line up Kante – Coq. You’d be saying how similar and “limited” both are


While I think some of Xhaka’s red cards/penalties have been unfair, you can’t compare him to Kante who’s is a much better tackler and far more mobile, which helps him avoid the same mistakes Xhaka makes. And I certainly wouldn’t be comparing him to Vieira either!

Crash Fistfight

You also can’t compare because they DON’T PLAY IN THE SAME POSITION. It’s like saying Kante is a better defensive midfielder than Marco Veratti or Xabi Alonso or Toni Kroos (because they are akin to the position that Xhaka wants to be playing). Where did everyone get (and some people still persist with the notion) that Xhaka is a defensive midfielder? I always thought that he was bought as someone to bridge the gap between Cazorla (brilliant on the ball but not physical and not exactly good at winning headers) and Coquelin (combative, energetic, but not particularly good technically) so… Read more »

love song for Song

The Xhaka-hating refs will probably continue to give him soft yellows and point to how many cards he has received as proof he’s a ruffian. He wouldn’t have so many cards if you didn’t issue out so many to him needlessly you seeds of Mourihno.
That said, he has a huge task of watching himself, kind of difficult if you are earnestly playing to win. The things some other players get away with though…


I wouldn’t say he comes across as a hard man, more clumsy. I would like to see him in more situations where he runs over to back up his team mates in a scrap, for example Walcott when he squares up to thugs double his height.

Arsenal Fan

Arsene. Savage AF!


One would have hoped that a 30M DM has mastered the art of tackling before joining Arsenal.


We didn’t need xhaka we needed. Kante, a smart run all day midfielder that can win the ball and play it quickly up the pitch. Xhaka over Kante was a bad deal financially as well. The plus side is he can only get better.


I like Xhaka as a player and normally I’d do my best to defend our players but I take exception to people on here saying he’s a good tackler and/or as good as Kante. That’s just ridiculous. The truth is Xhaka has just one exceptional skill, passing. Before we start touting him as the best DM in the league he needs to work on his ability to sense danger, his mobility, his ability to keep the ball under pressure and, yes, his tackling. He has potential, and he’s still adjusting to the league, but he’s not the finished article yet

Andy Mack

I don’t think anyone’s saying he’s as good as Kante as a tackler.
Just that he’s not ‘however many’ yellow/red cards worse than Kante.
Xhaka’s a different type of player that had definately got the worst response from the refs whereas Kante does commit fouls (It’s in his job description but far more tackles and generally much better tackles than Xhaka) and gets a much much better response from the officials.

Tasmanian Jesus

Not only passing. Hes pretty good at shooting too, at least shooting hard..


Yeah, yeah… Great commentary!
Now put your manager hat on and make him into the player you think he can be – it has been almost an entire season and he didn’t seem to grow even a bit, this isn’t totally the player’s fault.

Samuel Ogungbayi

It amazes me when fans tear apart their players for one deficiency or the other and do not say anything about the Manager. It is the duty of the Head Coach / Manager to “polish” players in the squad and make them reach the top .Any Manager that cannot make a player grow in all aspect of the game has failed in his duty. Garett Bale ,Walcott ,Carl Jekinson Calum Chambers are all products of Southampton,bought at over 12million pounds each as teenagers .It means they were good then to have attracted such transfer fees. Bale went to Spurs as… Read more »


The players need to shoulder as much responsibility as the manager. In the end they all need to be held accountable. I still think xhaka at this point is a small step up from flamini.


“Mashing of teeth”?!


Not the best 1st season so far for Xhaka but I expect him to be near impossible to leave off the starting 11 next year. I hope anyway. Vieira had a tough 1st season as well and if the media and keyboard warriors were as brutal back then sands they as they are now, we could have driven Paddy out of the club. Maybe Xhaka is one of those players that needs a full year to adjust to new teammates, style of football, new country, ect. The jury is still out on him. In my books, he still has next… Read more »

Andy Mack

I think next season he’ll be in an either/or situation where it’s either Santi or Xhaka. In either case there’ll be a DM next to them in Coquelin (hopefully regaining his form) or another. In many ways Xhaka has done better than most 1st year players but he is still having problems with the constant speed of the PL. When he gets the ball there’s always an opposition player coming to him and they generally get to him a little quicker than anywhere else he’s played (maybe only half a second quicker but usually quicker). So his thinking time is… Read more »

Samuel Ogungbayi

Arsenarmy. there is nowhere in the world where employees “shoulder as much responsibility as the manager” The position of the manager is that he is responsible for strategic and tactical planning ,then he tells his employees (sectional heads) what to do to achieve set goals. It is the same in Club Management. The buck stops on the manager’s table .It is his duty to make the players perform or he loses his job. That is why he earns more money than the players. Managers are sacked and not the players when a club is not doing well. Why was Claudio… Read more »


that may be true. But players have to preform. It is Xhaka’s job to keep himself available for selection at the very least. I don’t rate him as highly as Kante or matic, or even wanyama. It’s his first season so the final verdict is still out. But for his price tag I was expecting a bit more.

Andy Mack

You’re comparing different types of player…
And why anyone would want Wanyama in an arsenal shirt is beyond me.
He’d be the worlds biggest Red Card magnet if he wore an Arsenal Shirt…
He’s luck to be at a PGMO sponsored team.


The reason Kante didn’t want to join us was that he knew he would have to carry all the defensive responsibility of the team on his shoulders. Can’t blame him for choosing not to fight a battle he can’t win. Chelsea has a long tradition of defensive duty and less risky organisation. It’s just easier and more likely for a DM to excel there.

Andy Mack

No, it was purely financial because that’s the most important thing to Kante…


I sat right in front of the Swasea incident and i would have given a red. That said, Granit is a great player who will develop and adapt further.


Some very deluded comments on here. Well, here is a stat which I find interesting
Percentage of Tackles won(PL)
Kante: 43%
Xhaka: 42%
Xhaka has played 600 minutes less.

While Kante is a better tackler, there’s no doubt that we needed a player more in Xhaka mold than Kante. Kante if anything would’ve replaced Coquelin.
Xhaka will come good. He’s a very talented player used wrongly by Wenger. He normally likes to dictate play from deep but with Arsenal, we see him so high on the pitch.

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