Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Xhaka: I hope Havertz critics eat their words

Granit Xhaka hopes Kai Havertz’s detractors “eat their words” as he backed the German to come good at Arsenal in the left-eight position he vacated.

After seven tumultuous years in London, Xhaka departed Emirates Stadium in May having secured the love of terraces thanks to his no-nonsense attitude, professionalism and newfound attacking threat.

Mikel Arteta’s arrival at the club four years ago proved to be the turning point for the Switzerland international who came very close to leaving the club after being stripped of the captaincy following a spat with his own supporters.

A change in position helped his cause and the good form he found further up the pitch at Arsenal has been carried to Germany where he’s now thriving for Bayer Leverkusen under the tutelage of Xabi Alonso; a childhood friend of Arteta.

More than anyone, Xhaka knows a thing or two about changing public perception, so his words supportive words for Havertz, who moved to the Gunners from Chelsea in June, deserve attention.

“I know what it’s like for Kai, when people on the outside are a little bit nervous and the fans get restless,” Xhaka told The Athletic.

“He just needs to stay calm. It’s a new position for him and it takes time to fully understand Mikel’s philosophy.”

It certainly feels like something has clicked for Havertz in the last month. In his last six matches, he’s scored four goals and seen an all-round uptick in the level of his performance.

“He’s getting better all the time and his confidence is coming back now,” notes Xhaka.

“Everyone knows his potential but having the confidence of your club, your manager and your team-mates is everything. You always need that backing.”

While some quarters of the Arsenal fanbase were openly hostile towards Havertz (predominantly from behind their computer screens), away day regulars were ready and willing to serenade the midfielder from the moment he scored his first goal against Bournemouth in September.

His chant, to the tune of Shakira’s “Waka, Waka”, may have started tongue-in-cheek but has exponentially grown in popularity. It took Xhaka six years to secure a song of his own.

“Arsenal supporters sometimes can take a bit of persuading to change their minds,” Xhaka says. “But at the end, I won them around.

“I hope for Kai that he will do the same, and that the critics will eat their words.”

Xhaka will have a chance to pass on his support to Havertz in person next week. Taking advantage of the winter break in Germany, he plans to take in Arsenal’s match against West Ham at Emirates Stadium on 28 December.

No doubt the fans will be happy to see him.

__

To read Raphael Honigstein’s full interview with Granit Xhaka in The Athletic, click here. 

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Udgooner

Nice

Johnny 4 Hats

No, I think Leverkusen.

You’re thinking of Aaron Ramsey.

Ebo

I honestly think he was just answering the reporter’s next question for Xhaka, which obviously would have been, “but Granit, I assume you wouldn’t make Kai’s critics eat their words raw and unseasoned but rather as part of a salade nicoise. Do you know where that salad originates from Granit?”

Dada

See what you did there!

gooner

Neverkusen?

Inchun

I legend in my book.

Ringoxiii

Yes, I Am Legend is a book. A fantastic book.

The film on the other hand was a huge stinking turd

C.B.

Henry, Vieira, Brady, Adams etc etc.

Does he get anywhere close to true legends?

Johnny 4 Hats

Yeah, I think legend is a bit strong.

For me, he sits in the “fan favourite” pile with the likes of Santi, Eduardo and Rosicky.

Johnny 4 Hats

Maybe that should be “cult hero”. Sounds cooler.

Johnny 4 Hats

Man, how fucking great was Eduardo?

Anyone too young to remember, get a YouTube comp going.

Were it not for injury, we’d be talking about him in the same breath as RVP. Although without the preface of “CUNT!”

Nate

Not all heroes where capes. Xhaka is legend.

house of goons

Santi was a legend!

Johnny 4 Hats

Fantastic player. Amazing dude. But, IMHO, not a legend.

Obviously we could have a long semantic debate on the meaning of ‘legend’.

But I feel like clubs should only have a handful of legends. Otherwise it becomes anodyne.

Ebo

Santi was/is a legend of a player and person, not so much an Arsenal legend, I think the two things can and should be distinguished. Feel like the criteria for “legend” might be someone you’d tell your grandkids about. You’d tell them about Santi for sure, just probably not in terms of what he achieved for Arsenal but more how much his talent and personality brightened up your day when you watched him play.

Fatgooner

You missed out Gus Caesar

C.B.

Truw, sorry. And Charlie George.

Johnny 4 Hats

Apparently he massively influenced Mohamed Salad.

Jesus of Sao Paulo

Definitely a better captain for us than Gallas and RVP

djourou's nutmeg

i think the most important part of that piece is the fact that he actually wanted to stay and it was the club that wasn’t ready to offer him a new contract. shocking, i always thought it was the opposite. i miss him so much, man…

Berlingoon

Not sure if we can believe him blind in that regard. He also keeps saying he actively chose to stay because Mik has convinced him, when it is a fact that he was only staying because Roma wasn‘t offering what we were asking for. If they weren’t so stingy bastards, he would have been gone and the opinion about him would be very different.
Fair play, everybody is entitled to try to make him look a bit more honorable in hindsight.

PGunner

It’s the sign of a rounded human to be able to change one’s mind in the face of new evidence. What a great bunch of fans us gooners are, especially the ones who frequent the Arseblog world.

Onenil

Not sure we can pat ourselves on the back. The late Wenger era was thoroughly toxic, with fans regularly shouting abuse at the players during home matches, and not only during the Xhaka incident.
Lately its been a lot better, due to the results, but Havertz was becoming a target online and the Raya/Ramsdale thing rumbles on.
Patience a for the guys out there doing their best for Arsenal, remains in short supply.

PGunner

Fair point re the latter Wenger era and some of the early days of Arteta. Some of us definitely have more patience than others that’s for sure. I think we can place online discourse about the Arsenal (other than on here, mostly) in its own weird little box though.

Overall though, we do have the most discerning fans, stands to reason innit.

P.D.

Everything is relative. The late Wenger years would have been way, way more toxic at virtually every other club out there imho

Jeremy

Love you Granit, one of my favourite Arsenal players of the last 20 years – I have never seen a redemption story like it in football.

Wanyamaiv

Spare a word for Aaron Ramsey though;

Suffered that horrific injury v Stoke,

Got booed off by the home fans as well,

Was written off by pundits,

Then that stupendous rise from the ashes to win us the FA Cup.

For me, his story is probably the best.

Collibosher

GX was asked to play as the defensive midfielder in the absence of us having one. You could never doubt his commitment and the way both managers and team-mates responded to him was obvious. It was only a vocal section of the fans that didn’t see what he brought to the team, and even then, we were better with him than without. Once we found a position in the team that suited his game, he flourished. So glad he’s doing well now, while maintaining an interest in what’s going on here.

djourou's nutmeg

there there, it was not only a vocal section – it was the whole fucking stadium. and stadiums tend to be nice next to online fandoms. even this blog was rotten with xhaka and mustafi hate and jokes in almost every post. i think in order to avoid that level of toxicity again we have to remember it for what it was and not downplay it.

yen

Never followed Bundesliga. Now I check Leverkusen’s results every week.

If Granit manages to deprive Kane of his Bundesliga trophy – now that would be hilarious.

Badaab

Kane will win a trophy when he learns to close his mouth- and we all know that’s never happening

Geefive

Listening to him talk sounds like a pre-recorded message slowed down 1/2 speed by a person who has just drank a litre of Egg Nog…..

Master Floda

But how would he breath with his mouth closed?

Joker

I find it remarkable how the perception of Granit Xhaka changed after one and a half good seasons. Maybe he was always played out of position during those preceding six years but never before has a player made me seethe like him. It was appalling to witness him make time and again one catastrophic error after another with seemingly no consequence to his place in the team. He would perpetually give the ball away in dangerous positions under little to no pressure, stupidly hack down opponents from behind, blatantly pull their shirts, get himself into fights and needlessly get himself… Read more »

Greg in Seattle

Pathetic, you are. And clearly nearly alone in your opinion or the player and the man.

Fireman Sam

You’re right about Granit’s failings and all his red cards arising from brain farts, which we all lamented at the time. However not sure why you’re “glad he’s no longer with us” as he’d clearly turned a corner and had become a major asset to the team.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Shakira’s “Waka, Waka”, not true. An african song that existed at least 40 years before the WC. She only added “this time for Africa” which anybody could do, not so much the hip movements.

gooner

Being an African of a certain age this really hurts me on so many levels. That song was a big hit with a lot of attachment to African football fans of a certain age who watched the games (mainly on black and white TVs) and then FIFA with all their corruption allegedly paid Shakira over a million to remix it so they can make the world cup in 2010 an African one with an African theme. I love that song a lot( the original) and every time the fans sing the Kai song it makes me happy on all levels

Daveo

Very happy to be seeing a different Kai of late. One more involved in build up (certainly quicker cycling the ball), driving forward and of course being clinical in front of goal makes a BIG difference. Hopefully he continues to level up. Could be a key long term piece if his attacking game gets even more creative.

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