Monday, May 20, 2024

Xhaka: We believe we can finish in the top four

Granit Xhaka says Arsenal back themselves to finish in the top four but admits the club can’t rely on impressive home form alone.

The Gunners climbed into the Champions League places for the first time this season courtesy of a 2-0 win over West Ham United and now, after damaging away day defeats at Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton, have their eyes trained on beating Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday.

While another trip North looks intimidating on paper, Marcelo Bielsa’s side comes into the game off the back of a 7-0 battering by Manchester City and are struggling with injuries and a Covid outbreak.

“We are looking much better at home, but if you want to be in the top four you have to win and you have to take points away as well,” said Xhaka on Wednesday night. 

“Hopefully, this starts on Saturday at Leeds. We have to improve away, we have to be more clever, more solid.

“We can’t play every time the same game at home and away, we have to be more clever and this starts from the experienced players to the young guys.”

Asked if the Gunners really believe they can end a five-year Champions League exodus, Xhaka continued:

“Of course, if not then we don’t need to go on the pitch. We are very strong, very solid. We are not conceding a lot of goals and we believe in ourselves.”

The Switzerland international also paid tribute to Arsenal’s youngsters for the way they’ve carried the side during the first half of the campaign when the senior stars have flattered to deceive.

“They are making our life easy because they are playing very good,” he said.

“They are scoring and we are enjoying [playing] with them. But, of course, we need the leaders in the team and, at the moment, we are doing well.”


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Mtcheew, abeg, make I hear word.


Lol. Omo Naija

Once a gunner

This team can challenge for the title if they are properly coached and cut out indiscipline off and on the pitch. But Arteta is learning on the job


No they can’t.


We’re slowly getting back into the fabled ‘one or two signings away’ territory.


I remember when we’d qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League every year, only to be comprehensively beaten by Bayern Munich or Barca. I think the most optimistic we can be at this stage of the team’s development is to admit that the three top teams are now all at that top-European level, and if so, perhaps we’re now getting closer in quality to being a team that gets knocked out of the last 16 of the CL. I think this team could be challenging for the title in a few years. Claiming forth spot this season and… Read more »


To be fair the top 8 of the Premier League would fare better than many of the teams in the CL from smaller leagues


Genuinely betting back into, like Liverpool territory. That Allison and Van Dijk injection of quality signings away and if we get them right, we could give a run for Chelsea for sure. Liverpool and City are certainly ina league of their own right now.

A proper #9 and a Declan Rice or a solid deep-lying midfielder is why we truly lack.
We are set up well for the next window and we gotta credit Mikel and Edu for this trajectory.

Long may this continue.


We have the midfielder of our future. He’s on the bench. We need a striker without doubt. Has to be the #1, #2, #3 priority.


I’d go along with those positions. A 20+ goal contributions forward and a world class box-to-box midfielder and this team steps up another level. I think Partey can be an excellent defensive foil when he’s primarily focused on that role. Where he struggles for me is his consistency of technical execution, which limits his ability to both be a defensive rock and be a playmaker, which is sort of what he’s asked to do sometimes. He can pull it off from moment to moment but not at the level or consistency to rely on. Let him try and be a… Read more »


We don’t need some other “experienced” midfielder. We have one that might be world class if given the trust. If we don’t give him the trust and park his arse on the bench behind Xhaka then we crush his development. Why is he inexperienced/not ready, but the same age range as White/Saka/ESR/Gabriel/Tomi/Martinelli that are all deemed experienced/ready enough. We have the guy we need, we need to play the guy we have.

Bleeding gums murphy

Xhaka made two huge mistakes yesterday. Got caught in possession as he is slow and then let poor odegarrd pass just roll past him. Both gave big chances to West Ham. On another night they would have scored and he would have been slaughtered on here. The last game Lokonga started he was superb. The sloth 🦥 gets fit again and walks straight back into a winning team

Cliff Bastin

The law of averages means Xhaka is due a horrendous point losing clanger right now.


Was probably the West Ham game but Ramsdale bailed him out.


Xhaka is just back from a major injury. You have to give him game time to get back in form. A solid Xhaka is always an asset to Arsenal.


What form? He’s been consistently playing the same way and making the same mistakes week after week, year after year.

Bleeding gums murphy

You’re a funny guy 😂

A Different George

Why do you think that is? Why do all those managers, with totally different styles–Wenger, Emery, Arteta, and the manager of Switzerland–keep playing Xhaka whenever he is available? Maybe, because it is their profession and they spend their working lives doing nothing else, they understand football better than you do? Just a possibility.


100% agree. It’s been one of the stranger things Arteta has done to bring Xhaka back so fast. His injury the perfect opportunity to let him become a back up.

A Different George

Lokanga has shown great promise, but that is a very long way from being the finished article in a very difficult position–and in a new league far stronger than any he has played in (he’s not coming from the Bundesliga or even Ligue 1). If you watched Declan Rice against us, you saw the difference (and in a match where his team were dominated by Arsenal). If we had an experienced first 11, or back 4, it might be worth the risk of throwing him on and living with his inevitable mistakes. I think he will have plenty of chances,… Read more »


That’s not the worst place to be though.


How are we possible anywhere near that territory? Fairly sure this is our first appearance in the top 4 since January 2019. Making a jammy appearance in it once in the whole domestic calendar and finishing the season in the certified places, are two very different things. Personally I am not convinced we will have it in the tank to go the whole season in the race because I don’t think the management is good enough. Whichever way you cut it, we dont score enough goals nor do we create enough xG per 90. Our away form is also diabolical,… Read more »

A Different George

Did you watch Man City v Leeds? (Ignore Man City v Arsenal–that could theoretically be Arteta’s coaching and our “indiscipline.”) Have you watched Liverpool recently? (Ignore Liverpool v Arsenal–that could also, theoretically, be Arteta’s coaching and our indiscipline.) Do you honestly believe we are good enough to challenge those two teams this year?


City at home on Day 1 of 2022 is going to be something of a watershed in terms of how far Arteta has managed to pull this squad along the road to the ECL.
Probably comes a little too early for our young guns but let’s see… football is a funny ol’ game!


You know just as well as I do that if we lose the game (even lose it badly) and Arteta is still in charge, it will – once again – “not count”, because the transfer window won’t have closed.

The Beast

Love your optimism but I’d give it a few seasons yet.

We would’ve taken a spot in Europe at the start of the season, so no need to pile unnecessary presure on the youngest squad in the league.

Announce Bendtner

So you credit the team but not the manager responsible for the signings. If him and Edu have done well enough to identify good value for money players then their “learning on the job” isn’t too bad. I don’t think Pep and Klopp have stopped learning – “on the job”. Arteta has a long way to go to even be considered a good/great coach but a little respect around his current knowledge and application shouldn’t be too much to ask. He may not be the answer, time will tell but people need to stop speaking like he’s just an anybody… Read more »


I think Arteta is a good coach/manager. His record is decent so far.

He’s not Klopp or Pep, but neither of those two woke up one day and we’re instantly great managers either, they’ve worked to get the plaudits they are getting.

Time will tell if Arteta will talked about in the same way.

In the mean time all we can do is back him, he’s clearly got the trust of the board (and the financial backing too) the team are playing for him and seem to be on board also.

Once a gunner

I’m so happy that you identify his area of strength he and Edu in recruiting good players to the areas where they needed them, thumb up for that. We have options to either wait for him to learn his trade with the team he has shown that he is a fast learner with the cups he has won between the short time he has worked with us, personally I like the gaffer but his reading of the game at times shows he is still learning the trade. I want him and my team to do very well so time is… Read more »


Challenge for the title? Hardly. We are miles and miles away from that. Half of the starting eleven would need replacing for that to happen along with the manager. Not saying I don’t think Arteta is starting to get some improvement. Do I think he could ever win a title? Nope. I can’t see us being anymore then a top four side at best.

Jim Gooch

IF – its a big if – we are able to eradicate the mistakes that cost us points at both Goodison & Old Trafford then I see no reason why we can’t compete for fourth. Both those games were winnable and had we taken the 6 points on offer we would be firmly in fourth. We are clearly a way behind the top three and in a fight with those around us but be positive fellow Gooners. It is doable.

The Beast

There’ll be dropped points & bad performances ahead but that’s no different to the teams around us.

If we keep in touching distance throughout the 2nd half of the season, we’ve got a chance.

Vaibhav Pandey

I see one of top 3 falling into 3/4 position fight, maybe it will be Chelsea.

King 14enry

I disagree. The top 3 are clear ahead of the rest (look at their goal differential compared to the rest of the league!), but 4th is wide open. Hopefully no European football and therefore fresher legs tips the balance in our favour throughout the second half of the season.


Is it just me who thinks it’s still only a top 2? Chelsea look like a runaway leader in the race for 3rd place. They are not as dominant as the other two and for good measure if we hadn’t messed up against Everton and United( both wins were possible ) We would be breathing on their necks. They clearly started the season with a spring in their Champions of Europe step but it remains to be seen how they deal with a loss of form

Onekele Solomon

Up gunners,, the boys are really doing great things right now.. kudos to martinelli and @ Emile Smith Rowe10….


This man has all the makings of a future Arsenal Captain.


F*** Off. I think I’m quoting him accurately.


Surely the symbolism of throwing the armband away once already is everything anyone ever needs to know.

Vaibhav Pandey

There are a log things which go behind that and those should be taken in perspective and spirit. I agree he did dishonor the armband but he doesn’t seem like a bad person to me.


He’s clearly a good teammate and trainer. No doubt, but he’s also clearly hot-headed and also just not that good. We have strong (and a lot) of evidence for all those things.


I think he’s one of the less likeable members of the squad. I’d prefer to have dinner with almost any of the others.

Top Tier-ney

Translation: “I really don’t like him, so I’ll just say no one does with no proof for it whatsoever.”

I mean, if he was the captain of the team, and is one of the leaders of this squad and an occasional captain these days, then someone must like him… think he has a wife, I guess she at least kinda likes the guy too…


Yeah, I’m sure he is well liked. I’m just saying I don’t like him from what I’ve seen of him. That right wing bullshit when he plays for Switzerland and his anti-vac stuff…


That is probably true – but there are certain lines that a ‘top’ pro sportsman should never, ever cross. Tossing that symbol of more than a century of heritage, pride and commitment to the turf was petulant, reckless, cowardly and – above all – hugely disrespectful… what would Rocky or Ray K think of such behaviour? Such ‘passion’ should be saved for the Van Nistelroy’s, Mills’, Maupay’s and Keane’s of this world… When he threw his little hissy fit, he also threw to the ground Aaron, Eduardo and the many others who’ve literally broken their bodies for this club and… Read more »


I don’t know if he’s a bad person, but he’s a mediocre footballer at the best of times.


My apologies to Xhaka if the above comment came across as an overly personal attack (something I always try to avoid). Rather, it was meant as a comment on his leadership qualities and professionalism.

I won’t comment on his ability as a player as the past seasons provide ample evidence that he’s not a Top 4 EPL level player.

Top Tier-ney

Translation: “I resented that moment of his in particular a lot, but I’m not going to delve into why it hurt me the way it did or why he did what he did, instead, I’ll just blindly hate him forever, forget all his other contributions to the club and reduce his identity to that so I can have a vitriolic go at him every time I see him so much as breathe.” Real mature… yes, Xhaka has a bit of a neurotic streak to him when things go wrong, but what does this reductionist way of going about it as… Read more »


For me, it’s not so much about what he did in that moment, it’s mostly that he’s never actually apologized for it and most likely thinks he was justified.
I guess that leads me to the understanding that I don’t like unrepentant self-centered wankers.

Top Tier-ney

Uh-huh, cause anyone who unnerves you even the slightest ( which I’m sure is super hard to do given how reasonable and stable you come off xD ) and doesn’t subdue himself to you is exactly that of course… in your head that is.


“he’s den away more pens than any midfielder in EPL history, one of the worst red card rates in EPL history, very high rate of errors leading to goal, one footed, slow. Also acted like an idiot when he was the captain of this team while being paid 100k per week.”
That’s not good enough. He’s not good enough and he knobbed off like a clown when given the chance to lead the team.


Inherently flawed analogy – we are not professional athletes; we are not paid extremely high wages (in no small way, by the very same fans on here, btw); we were not entrusted with a leadership position that carries the weight of responsibility of more than a century of tradition, pride, suffering, sacrifice and triumph. Whatever one feels about Granit Xhaka as a person (and I agree that sweeping character assassinations have no place here), the fact is that NO Arsenal captain has ever flung the symbol of all of that tradition to the turf. That action showed that Xhaka will… Read more »

Top Tier-ney

I never said you were. What with your myopic outlook on things and a tendency to fixate, your footballing technical qualities aside, which are a complete question mark to me, I wouldn’t be confident about your decision making out there on that pitch, but that’s beside the point… My analogy isn’t pointing out how unfit you and the likes of you are to be a professional football player ( as we established, likely, very ), its pointing out how you’re lacking the capacity to make an objective, holistic judgment on what Xhaka brings to the football club due to underlying… Read more »

canon fodder

I remember not taking issue with Cantona when he kicked a Crystal Palace supporter. He had just been sent off but then given a volley of abuse by the aforementioned ‘supporter’. Likewise, Xhaka being substituted after having a bad game but them being jeered and verbally abused by some supporters in the process. It’s seems that supporters are allowed to behave how they like but when it’s a footballer…


No. Supporters that act racist and are caught are (finally) dealt with harshly. Supporters that fight are dealt with harshly. Grab someone around the neck and then push your forehead into their face at football ground and threaten them verbally and see what happens? Ironic jeers from fans that pay the highest prices in Europe to see football is “acting how they like” and the millionaire captain of a football team telling fans to “fuck off”, throwing down the armband and trudging off slowly is ok because of those ironic jeers?? I suppose those same ironic jeers justify his throat… Read more »


He was jeered because he totally failed to see the urgency the fans felt about needing to score a winning goal at home against a limited Crystal Palace side. He ambled slowly off the pitch after a poor performance on it. Not captain behaviour.

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

The Liverpool captain doesn’t start every game. When he does get taken off, look how he sprints off and encourages his replacement. Xhaka is a self centred prick, who holds the club back


To my knowledge, Cantona never, ever turned on his own fans. What he did was unforgivable, but he was not captain of his club, and did not directly and cynically disrespect that position and everything (and everyone) it stands for!


He was being jeered, yes, verbally abused, no.
Cantona attacked one specific fan for specific abuse (not defending Cantona).
Xhaka threw away the symbol on the club and told ALL the fans in the stadium to fuck off.
All because he’d been sarcastically applauded.
If fans can’t do that, what can they do? Are they not allowed not to like a footballer? If Xhaka’s such a precious little flower that a bit of ironic clapping sets him off, maybe he should take his own advice, fuck off and get a real job.


What did he expect? Fans to sing his name after an absolute nightmare, causing us a spot in the CL? He’s playing for Arsenal, not local village FC.


I think Lokonga should be playing more.

Goodly morning

And AMN. He put in a great performance then was dropped.


They Will both be playing plenty in January.

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

As someone who is even slower than James Ward Prowse running through treacle, whilst carrying a sumo wrestler, please don’t play for us anymore.


Truth is our chances of finishing in the top 4 and becoming a decent team again increase in direct relation to players like Xhaka having less influence on the teams play. We didn’t see Xhaka getting to hide at leftback anymore, and everyone else shuttling around to accommodate his shortcomings. He was actually asked to be a midfielder and get about the pitch against West Ham which is good. But in doing so he showed exactly why a player of his profile puts a glass ceiling on how a team can compete. He’s just too slow of thought and execution… Read more »


Yup. it makes no sense to me to put him ahead of Lokonga. Sambi is every bit the passer of xhaka. He is naturally two-footed. The difference in mobility is like watching a 100m sprint between chris farley and Usain Bolt. He’s already showing leadership qualities. And I don’t buy for a second these weak arguments he’s too lightweight. He looks tough as nails – he’s been so impressive in his FIRST ever EPL season that is not even half done at 22 years. And also the BS that he should be developing slow is … well… BS. He’s 22… Read more »


Excellent summation of the enigma that is Xhaka. What astounds me is the number of our fellow fans who’ve down-voted this and so, by extension, would seem to support Xhaka as the answer to our midfield issues? At what point do we – as supporters – raise our collective expectations and begin to judge our players by Top 4 standards? The irony is that, whilst Xhaka is ‘talking us up’ to Top 4, he simply does NOT have the speed, skill or savvy to actually play us there! I would argue that a simple, fact-based evaluation of his many years… Read more »

Tomaury Bischfeld

Incidentally, the last time we finished in the top four was the season before we signed Granit Xhaka.

Mayor McCheese

Correlation is not…

Never mind.


Ha but who says its only correlation huh? He’s got a lot to account for, has Xhaka.

Lord Bendnter

Oh Captain my Captain!


Seriously, it sounds like a political captain candidacy speech.

Lord Bendnter

I can’t explain it, but I have a biasied soft spot for Xhaka


Lol… I legit thought it was sarcasm. Maybe you could tell… I don’t…


It’s great when the experienced players show appreciation to the young players. This will even push them(younger group) further

Man Manny

Top 4 comes naturally to the fourth best team in the Premier league, all things considered. I think our main focus should not be getting there this year. I’d be okay with a Europa League spot. We have a young team that is developing nicely; if this trajectory remains, we will be a top 4 team eventually. I remember Liverpool in the early days of Klopp: they’d been out of Europe completely… then came EL football and that loss to Sevilla in the final. About five seasons later, they are not only back at the top, but have won the… Read more »


Please don’t start. Every time any player start to talk about “we believe we can finish 4th”. After that we just start to lose.


Xhaka is a powerful figure he emits special chemicals that blind people to the harsh reality he has little to no physical it technical attributes that improve the Arsenal midfield he’s been a mainstay of for the better part of a decade. Still….. People follow him to the gates of mordor, to the fires of Mount Doom. I capitulate, he will be captain again and the connection with my club will diminish ever further

The Beast

Jesus, the obsession has gotten to the point that ppl are writing fanfic about the man.


Correction – … the midfield he’s been a mainstay of for the worse part of a decade.


Hate to say it because I’m not a fan of xhaka, and I still have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth about him, but spoken like a true captain.


Easy to ‘speak like a true captain’ in the comfortable atmosphere of the press room… he has been repeatedly found wanting at the coal-face where it really counts: when his team has needed commitment, cool-headedness, leadership and – above all – respect for the position with which he was so misguidedly entrusted.

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Xhaka talking about being “clever”.
Is he taking the piss?

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