Does Unai Emery Have The X Factor? (Where X = Xhaka)

There is a growing feeling amongst supporters that the new ‘Weakest Link’ in the Arsenal team is the seemingly un-droppable Granit Xhaka.

The two opposing views as to whether Unai was culpable for only drawing against spurs are summed up in these comments:


I seem to be in the minority again in that I’m struggling to blame Emery for the result or performance yesterday. It was 2 individual mistakes that led to their goals so is Unai supposed to foresee that? It’s easy to say Xhaka shouldn’t have started after a poor showing but it was only a week ago that people were hoping he’d be in the team for the Liverpool game because of his added experience.

As for tactics, it’s very difficult to protect the back 4 adequately when you’ve gone 1 and then 2 goals behind. We were chasing the game for large parts and that has to be taken into consideration when assessing our defensive frailties. I also thought Son was very clever playing between the lines and he was exploiting the gaps we were leaving.

If anything, Emery did well tactically in the second half as he saw that we were too open and struggling to maintain attacks and so he brought on Ceballos and Mkhitaryan which gave us another body in midfield and resulted in us camping in their half for much of the second period. It was only after we equalised that the players eased off a little and allowed Spurs some late glimpses of goal.

I think the disallowed goal took the wind out of our sails a little and maybe we tired after trying so hard to get level.

I’d be interested to hear what people think Emery should’ve done differently yesterday as the line up looked solid and the formation was probably the correct one, and he made some good calls during the match to help us get level. Given that we don’t have a world class CB or HM player in the squad, I don’t see much else Emery could’ve done with that starting line up.

Mike M

@FGG. Hope you’re ok with me disagreeing fairly strongly here but if the manager picks someone that the general fanbase keeps saying isn’t good enough and he directly gives a goal away that cost 2 pts. isn’t he responsible?

He’s had a year, has seen enough of Xhaka and I’m not sure about your assertion that many people wanted him to play against Liverpool but I will defer if that’s true.

However Xhaka reverted to type and let his team mates and manager down. It’s noble of you to try to defend him but it’s frankly indefensible. As far as subs go. Ceballos was a no brainer at 2-1 down and Laca was injured.

For me, especially in the fact that he left today, bringing on Miki ahead of Nelson or Willock was bizarre at best. Again, I don’t want to sound obtuse here but I thought it was a ridiculous substitution. He played wide left and with no assists and 1 goal in his last 16 matches (again I stand to be corrected !!) he did exactly as expected – nothing substantive.

I’ll just say this. If you picked an Arsenal team solely on performances this season, Willock has to start, probably along with Guendouzi. If you say Xhaka too, I’d give you that but I think Ceballos or Torreira would have been worth a punt (as if you didn’t know how I felt !!). Sorry if it sounds a little blunt but I’m tired of the excuses for Xhaka of oh well he made a mistake. He almost always makes a mistake, luckily for him, his team mates often bail him out. It’s time to move on from him.

So what do you think? Has Unai inhertited Arsene’s Xhaka blindness? Would we have won if Xhaka hadn’t been on the pitch? Do we know more than experienced professional managers? … Over to you …



66 Responses to Does Unai Emery Have The X Factor? (Where X = Xhaka)

  1. fatgingergooner says:

    I wonder which way this vote will go given Xhaka’s performance on Sunday 🤔😂

    My point was that Emery wasn’t to blame, I fully blame Xhaka like everybody else!!! I think I’ve been fed to the lions here Rasp! 😂

  2. VP of Oz says:

    FGG, I voted yes in support of your minority. I’m also against Brexit, want a republic and to retain the ashes (come on Smithy!).

  3. fatgingergooner says:

    I voted No VP. I think we will still see a lot of Xhaka throughout the season and no doubt he will have some good games that people won’t talk about and bad games where he will get slaughtered, as is the way these days! 😂

    One thing that does need to be considered is that Emery sees him every day in training and he may well be one of those players who trains really hard and performs well in training and brings a good personality to the dressing room. We only get to judge the performances but there are other factors to consider. There’s also the fact that Emery may well need him at some point during the season so it’s a managers job to keep players onside and positive so that when they are required they show up. Dropping him from the team for a month or 2 may not be what’s best in the long run, but we shall see.

  4. VP of Oz says:

    FGG. You made some great comments in yesterdays post.
    I agree that Xhaka cost us 2 points but if he hadnt probably someone else would’ve. Thats a bit fatalist of me but probably the mood I’m in at the moment.
    With no Mustafi in the team we needed a Xhaka to lay the boot into. If both are out it will be interesting who will be next in line for a good kicking if results dont go our way.
    I found it interesting that Pires was praising Guendouzi for being a warrior whilst Mourinho was criticial of him for being too safe and always sideway passing. Just goes to show, opinions are as reliable as Mustafis excellent defending stats.

  5. fatgingergooner says:

    True VP,

    It was only a few days we had a post about Geundouzi and I remember a lot of people saying he’s not good enough, too raw, should be loaned out, shouldn’t be near the first XI etc but I imagine some of those opinions have changed quite quickly!

    We are a fickle bunch and sometimes we are too eager to turn on our own team! If we don’t support our own players then nobody else will that’s for sure!

  6. LBG says:

    Still believe Dick is not quite sure of best formation or selection and WANTS to believe in Xhaka.
    It is a dilemma for him, but not for me!! Ginger made a point immediately after the game that ( I attended) and agreed with. Xhaka had a more positive game than most in his time with us, BUT did that “improvement” outweigh what has become a “predictable” and fatal error, due largely to his uncontrollable nature. Emery, like Wenger, sees something worthy of persisting with Xhaka. I dont, and wish, Dick could show us through evidence/statistics what we are missing, because at the moment it is simply points lost.

  7. Ebere says:

    Xhaka error caused the second goal, but what about the first goal? Aside the error what else did he do wrong? why do people like to capitalize on mistakes he makes when the team should have won the match if we took all our chances. Check out misses from Pepe, Laca and Auba to start with. The scoreline should have been 6-3 if we want to be frank. Xhaka is needed in the line-up.

  8. LB says:

    School boy errors cost games and that is the hard stark reality.

  9. Sue says:

    We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position (2-0 down) in the first place!! And that wasn’t the first time Xhaka gave away a penalty was it? (& he gave Tom Daley aka Kane, a step closer to a knighthood) his wreckless lunges, giving away free kicks in dangerous areas, giving the ball away… omg.. time after time…
    I’m done with him, I’m afraid… i can see this turning out just like it did with Shkodran…..

  10. fatgingergooner says:

    Apparently we’ve shaved around £900k a week from our wage bill this summer without weakening the squad. I’m not sure wether to be impressed or pissed off at how poorly the club had been run under Gazidis. Obviously the emergence of youth players helps, but it’s still a lot of wasted money. If we could get CL football secured this season you really do feel that we will be in a position to buy some very expensive and exciting footballers to add to the young looking squad we currently have.

    Looking at the race for CL football, you have to feel that Chelsea and United are going to struggle for consistency throughout the season and I honestly believe we have a better squad and better impact players than those 2 teams (give me Auba/Laca/Pepe over their forward lines any day), so we should be pushing hard for top 4. Leicester could be the dark horses as they have some quality attacking players (Tielemans, Maddison, Vardy) and a good manager, but I don’t think Everton have enough firepower to really challenge. I’d expect Spurs to improve in the next couple of months which probably leaves us battling them for the 3rd/4th spot.

  11. fatgingergooner says:

    Got to say I’m very surprised by the comments so far. I was expecting a wave of Xhaka abuse but it hasn’t materialised as of yet. Maybe when Mike and Aaron comment later we’ll see a bit more 😂😉

  12. LBG says:

    Views on Xhaka for me are clear, and dont really want to “rub them in”, BUT, interested in views that the central/holding/sometimes creating midfield role is fundamental to the successful deployment of the (normally) two centre backs in a back four!
    Does the Manshitty system prove this and/or do the dippers play with a faux back four as Fabinho slots in between VVD and Matip as seemed to be case at weekend?
    Interested because I wonder whether our defensive frailties can be further traced back to a weakness here ( as well as average, at best, centre backs, of course).
    So many teams have better Xhaka alternatives AND better centre backs than we are playing at present. And I would include two of the so called threats to our top six position – Leicester and Burnley, and for that matter Brighton.

  13. kaius says:

    Good to know there are still Gooners out there who acknowledge that as fans we don’t have access to all the info a coach bases his decisions on. Far too many modern fans argue as if they know everything they need to know and their opinions are beyond doubt.

    For example, the Mkhitaryan substitution. I am no fan of the player. But watching the replay of the game I noticed that during the well-worked free-kick that led to the disallowed “winner”, it was Mkhitaryan who broke out of the wall to receive Ceballos’ pass and give a perfect one touch wall-pass to Kolasinac.

    Were it not for Kola running offside, Mkhi would’ve played a huge part in what would’ve been one of the biggest NLD moments in recent history.

    I just can’t understand fans saying Mkhi instead of Willock or Reiss Nelson was a *ridiculous* choice. For one, Willock had a little knock. Fans did the same thing after Anfield, they were outraged that Laca didn’t start or only came on for the last 10mins. Now we know he clearly wasn’t 100% because he took himself off against the Sp*ds. But where are all the people putting their hands up to say “oh actually I got that one wrong”?


  14. RC78 says:

    Xhaka didn’t learn anything from his time in the Bundesliga (most booked player while he was there) nor his time in the EPL in terms of defending. He gets booked, he tackles recklessly, he gives away cheap PKs and free-kicks and is often caught out of position because his position is sometimes off or he is too slow.

    The fault is not all his. He is clearly a CM who has been told to play Anchor / DM but he just doesn’t have it. We are not making the most of his long shot abilities – we also saw a glimpse of his ability when he took a long shot vs Spurs and we also benefited from his assists ability in 2017-2018 when he played higher up the pitch for a stretch of games.

    So for me, Xhaka is a good player to have in the squad this year. He can bring something different to the tea…from the BENCH. I see him as a back-up to Torreira.

    Chambers should be given a chance at DM and if that fails, then put in Luiz. I think in time, Douzi will become our DM but he is not there yet.

    Put Xhaka on the bench – it will do him and the squad good.

    I am happy to play him as a starter in Cup Games or in European Cups vs lesser opposition

    Martinez – AMN, Mustafi, Sokratis, Tierney – Xhaka, Willock – Ozil – RN, Jules, Saka

    We would still have Macey, Medley, Martinelli, Smithe-Rowe that would need playing time as well so…

    The squad is getting overhauled and refreshed. I think next summer we will see Sokratis or Mavropanos and Mustafi leave, Xhaka exit and maybe Ozil.

  15. Mike M says:

    Morning all. Sorry about yesterday’s rant but in my defence, I’ve been saying Xhaka is the key to our success or failure. Rasp will back me on this, I didn’t write him off or complain about him staying, I just said if he’s going to play this season and we’re going to be better, he needs to change in a couple of fundamental ways – also that maybe UE could be the one to change it. Well all I see is more of the same and so I hold them both accountable.
    @FGG – no lions, more like kittens !!! I’m not into abusing Xhaka or Dick. However in the top level of football these people make enough money to be held accountable. I want every Arsenal player to succeed but Xhaka isn’t good enough and he just continues to prove it. At this level, “just one mistake” but a good game otherwise over and over just doesn’t cut it. That’s just how I see it.
    @LBG – you are exactly right. As I said as part of my rant, Xhaka’s lack of discipline and ability make our CB’s look worse. That’s a tactical fact.
    If we continue with Xhaka, we maybe finish in the top 4, maybe not. We have improved our squad so substantially the I honestly believe right now in terms of our best 11, we’re a long way ahead of the other 3 (admittedly still a way behind the top 2). #rd should be ours for the taking. Xhaka has the potential to single handedly scupper that. 2 points and counting.

  16. Mike M says:

    @ Kaius – I didn’t know Willock had a knock. Had I done, I would have understood him not starting.So I got that one wrong. But Lacazette came on in the Liverpool game with his knock. If Willock wasn’t fit enough to play even a few minutes, why was he on the bench? If you believe UE brought Miki on to flick on a free kick, then the man is a genius. So I’m wrong about that too. However he left yesterday. I find that bizarre. Did UE have no clue he was probably leaving? If so is that who you want on the field for the last 20 mins in the NLD? For me, no. But I respect the opinions of those who would say yes. Just don’t agree.

  17. fatgingergooner says:


    Im hearing a lot about goals conceded and how we aren’t improving, but I also keep hearing people say that 3 out of the back 4 are not starters, one is a midfielder converted to a RB, and that the one who is a starter might be better at HM! Oh, and that we do t have a HM player worthy in our list of midfielders. Of course we are going to be shit defensively if this is the case!!! 😂

  18. Xhaka didn’t make a mistake, he committed an outrageous (if not deliberate) foul. He knew what he was doing, and if he didn’t then he shouldn’t have been on the pitch anyway

  19. kelsey says:

    5 red cards since he joined us and 4 at his previous club in Germany in 3 seasons and Emery wants him as one of his captains. Makes you wonder.
    He offers nothing to the team bar a very smart haircut and a straight shot every 20 odd games. £36 million down the 🚾

  20. Mike M says:

    I’d also like to clarify something. Last season (with hindsight), we had Ramsey (when fit), Xhaka, Ozil, Elneney, Torreira and Guendouzi to pick from in the middle. Defensively that’s a pretty sad bunch once you get past Torreira and Gwen. None of the rest can tackle. Going forward, it’s creative for sure, but other than Ramsey, I don’t see much in the way of dynamic counter attacking.
    This season, the signing of Ceballos, the development of Gwen and Willock and the settling of Torreira mean that Xhaka is relegated to a distant 5th imho. So I think he has a lot to prove. And by no means can I be referred to as the “modern fan” !!! My son is and he agrees.

  21. fred1266 says:

    Just read one of the early post about if xhaka didn’t make that mistake, someone else would, that such hoss shit

    Maybe the someone else let’s say willock actually read the play, make a proper or even foul the play

    The thing is you know what u get with him he does think with another player u assuming he is worse

    Look willock and how good he has been, I prefer someone like willock making those kinda mistake than experienced xhaka

    If anyone gets a chance go on arsenal player and see the breakdown notice how xhaka was leaving us exposed

  22. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rasp, and FGG and Mike inadvertently.

    As far as Xhaka goes, my feelings are well documented and haven’t changed. I just don’t feel he is suited to the top end of this league. Despite his ball distribution I feel the game here is too fast for him, and across a season his flaws will always end up outweighing his positives.

    He also can’t tackle and an article involving Keown recently where he stated that Arsene fairly quickly realised this and instructed Xhaka not to tackle. I am not sure if it was ever tongue in cheek but if that is the case then we have seriously miscalculated and overpaid for a player that was supposedly the answer to our lack of defensive midfield physicality.

    That begs the question of why Arsene and now Emery seem to defer to him as a 1st 11 midfielder. What is he exactly for us if he can’t tackle and can’t be our midfield enforcer? With the evidence we have now seen on many occasions I am slightly baffled by what AW and now UE see that most of the fans don’t.

    For Xhaka to be effective and less of a liability he needs a very specific midfield set up around him. In other words we need to accommodate him. He needs to be neither the deepest of the midfielders or the most advanced.

    He needs to be covered behind him by a more athletic more positionally disciplined midfielder who is better at winning the ball back cleanly, and then he needs to have a player alongside him who has the pace and engine to get forwards quickly to cover Xhaka’s lack of dynamism.

    Other teams alter their ideal set-up to accommodate a specific player but they are normally the best players that are big game winners. Xhaka doesn’t come anywhere near being that type of impact player to warrant having to make accommodation for.

    Maybe as RC says certain games could suit him or he could be a player from the bench and still be a reasonable asset. I would see this perhaps in a game we are already in command of where we are looking to take the sting out of the game, slow it down and keep possession. A game we are winning where we want to sit a bit more in midfield and suck them out and then ping in defence splitting balls to our front 3.

    Overall though I feel we already have better options in our midfield 3 with more coming through as well so I would, for the most part, be inclined to develop the team with players that will represent our longer term future.

    On Emery, he is bringing many positives to the club and changing things that needed changing. However successful or not his tenure is I think he will have brought certain modern principles to the club that we sorely needed.

    The question I ask is whether Emery is the real deal beyond he next season or two? Or is he more of a stepping stone, a kind of trouble shooter that resets the club on a better pathway, but is realistically just paving the way for another elite manager to come in and add the finishing touches.

    No manager can completely get everything right all the time, but the elite managers at the biggest clubs generally get every aspect right on a consistent basis. That includes getting the best from the squad and getting the tactics and set-up right.

    I felt with the Liverpool game Emery was way out with his tactics and set-up, but the Spurs tactics and set-up were an improvement. However the elite managers tend to get all details right and in playing Xhaka I feel Emery ignored a better option that would have made us that degree stronger and possibly seen us take all 3 points.

    Getting these small details right or not will define whether he is a temporary trouble shooter or whether he actually belongs in the elite management bracket.

  23. LBG says:

    I agree I think Xhaka should make the tea…..sorry frivolous!!

  24. RA says:


    I suspect you have been misrepresented and as you say ‘fed to the lions’ — but as they say, ‘Lion Sprat would eat no fat fat – his wife would eat no lean’ — so you got off lightly! 😜

    Joking aside, I think you made a valid point — a coach only has the players available to him to populate the team — any failing must lie with the triumvirate (to which he only has a passing association). These guys decide who to buy, and who to let go — (to put the AW era to bed) so fit could be argued he chose the errant Xhaka with his experience over the youthful inexperience of Willock & Co.

    I think you were right that the coach got it wrong selecting him — easy to say after the game — but others put Xhaka on the smorgasbord to choose from rather than selling him ages ago — let the fickle fingers point there. 🤪

  25. RockyLives says:

    Well I voted ‘don’t know’ which is unusual for me (I’m normally happy to take a side).

    I was erring to joining the “no” vote because, like everyone, I am frustrated by his mistakes.

    What gave me pause was the fact that both AW and now UE seem to see value in him. Also, I can recall games where he was been very good for us.

    My biggest problem is that I still don’t know exactly what type of player he is despite having watched just about all his games for the Arse.

    I can fit most players into a sort-of picture in my head – I have an idea of their strengths, weaknesses, what they can do, where they struggle and where they fit in the team.

    But Xhaka? I’m not sure. Just like Vince from the Mighty Boosh, he’s a confuser…

  26. Rasp says:

    🙂 Rocky, yours is the only ‘undecided’ vote.

    Until I heard that Willock was injured I’d have docked UE a point for playing Xhaka (I’m not a massive fan) in the hope that he would have selected Willock if fit.

    The midfield has been a conundrum since Santi left. Maybe Ceballos will take command in the attacking half supported by Douzi and Willock/Torreira?

  27. RA says:

    Nice one GB,

    It has come to me in a mystical way, or maybe via the TV, well one or t’other, that we have moved into a different coaching era (from an Arsenal viewpoint that is) because we had a fantastic manager in AW who among other things brought us The Invincibles and the right to strut around as 1st or 2nd rooster in the EPL and were regulars at FA Cup finals more times than you could shake a stick at that.

    For whatever reason, his influence started to wane after The Invincibles were broken up, through lack of money at Arsenal, or shiploads of money arriving at the Chavs, and Citeh, to join moneybags Manure and to enable them to buy better and better players — whatever — and instead of taking the unkind, but professional decision to let him go, the Board for their own reasons kept him on, and on, and on.

    I loved having a manger like Arsene, but the magic had gone, long before he did.

    The top teams attract the best managers, but if they show even the slightest collywobbles, they get the chop. No time for sentiment, if you want to be the best, and stay the best!

    So, Embers is the fore-runner of this type of coaching at Arsenal — he’s not in charge of anything except coaching the team — he screws up — he will be gone.

    That’s the modern way. Succeed or it’s sayonara.
    So, it’s likely that whatever happens, Embers will be with us for 2 or 3 seasons, and then the next guy will come in.

    Just saying.

  28. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    As my mentor in many ways, I have to say that to see you err obviously comes as a shock, but rather than cross you off my list of exalted mentors, I think it only right to give you the opportunity to explain what you meant with the following:

    “I was erring to joining the “no” vote”

    Should be fun watching you wriggle. 😳 😛

  29. GoonerB says:

    RA, On reflection I actually think Arsene did really well for us for 7 years or so from 2005. He kept us up there and relevant on a shoestring budget. In many ways he was exceeding what he had a right to do.

    In many ways I consider Arsene keeping us near the top in that period of austerity as big an achievement as the trophy laden period before it. He stuck by us to see us through that tough period and he did a pretty decent job. We owe him our gratitude for this period as much as the trophy winning one.

    It was once we had the opportunity to spend a bit more and add better players (starting with Ozil) to the squad that it went a bit awry for me. This should have been the time when we progressed beyond where we had been for those 7 years but we didn’t and seemingly just stayed the same, arguably at times even regressed.

    Unfortunately I feel it became apparent that even with the option on better players that Arsene no longer knew how to prepare a squad capable of challenging for the league. He always deserved that chance to make it happen with better players being made available, but the club kept it going far too long once it was evident this would never happen.

    I still await to see how we develop under Emery this season. I think we will no far more about the likely longevity of his stewardship by seasons end.

  30. fred1266 says:

    kaius for we we know they practice that in training, so u praise a player for making a pass cool

  31. BradysNamesake says:

    At this point Im not sure there is a whole lot to add as everything has pretty much been said. I will reiterate one point regarding Xhaka though. We continue to play him knowing he can be reckless both with and without the ball due to his “experience”. The facts are that he’s 27 in 24 days, he’s been a first teamer for nearly a decade now and has been with us for going on 4 seasons. He certainly has (game) experience and many argue that he does “many things” that go unnoticed by “people who don’t know football” (Havent seen that on this site to be fair). I obviously disagree (therefore I must not know football), but even if I am wrong, for every game he plays for us due to his “experience”, he takes away opportunities from Douzi, Torreira, and Willock. I think thats the flip side of the coin that should also be debated. An “experienced” player that continues to make dumb errors can hurt the team by more than just costing points on any given weekend, he can also slow the development of other players fighting for his role.

  32. fred1266 says:

    Ceballos could have played instead of Xhaka and let torreira play deeper

    Emery saw torreira score against Liverpool and all of a sudden he thinks he a goal scorer

  33. RA says:

    Very true, Namesake!

    What makes some people think they know more than the rest of us?

    If I don’t know as much as self satisfied know-it-alls === thank goodness!!

  34. RA says:


    Very good response thank you — nothing to disagree with there.

    What I was trying to say, is that whatever the reason for a 21 year management span, the new definition of the role is that the ‘coach’ is a coach — who coaches, and little else.

    That is a more modern approach — and winners (successful coaches) get big bucks — losers get the chop. 😳

  35. LB says:

    Should Xhaka have started against Tottenham? Yes, of course he should, he was, without any shadow of a doubt, the best option to play ahead of the defence on the day, that is not to say that he was ideal; he is far from that but he was the best option because there quite simply wasn’t any better at that time.

    Now it’s time to go round the houses to try to back that up.

    What country, over the last 30 years, has consistently produced the dirtiest, sneakiest bunch of cheating bar-stewards in football? Italy? Good guess but there is worse. Suarez: biting people while wearing his Uruguayan shirt? Getting warmer. To me the worse culprits are Argentina; they have been consistently skilled in the dark arts for longer than any other in my opinion. If you want to see this in action watch Argentina vs Uruguay; they are huge rivals and the dirty tricks are off the scale.

    Where are you going with this?

    What nationality is Podgytino? Yep, Argentinian, is there anyone reading this who didn’t realise why spuds are a bunch of dirty low life cheating banned words? Kane and Ali are Podgy’s finest work, their diving is disgusting and the continuous dirty, sneaky fouls that their midfield was meting out was a conscious plan from the outset to do harm to our players.

    This was not a game to try something new, it was not the time to replace Xhaka with Luiz or Chambers and as for Wilock, he could quite probably have been roasted by the dirty tricks that would have come his way. Guendouzi shielding the defence? Not yet. Which, of course, leaves our own South American who is also well versed himself in the dark arts: Torreira; he could have replaced Xhaka and had Ceballos replace Torriera; so in short the midfield would have been Ceballos, Guendouzi and Torreira. This would have answered many peoples call to start with Ceballos but it would have been much weaker.

    I have read several times: look how much stronger we were when Ceballos came on, yes he was able to take the game to spuds but only because they were two one up and were happily sitting deeper which gave Ceballos time and space to impress but don’t forget what happened the week before when he was completely by passed by Liverpool and that could have happed again in the first half when spuds where on the front foot. Further, bear in mind that we were already attack heavy with Lacazette, Aubamayang and Pepe and as such we needed extra defensive nous just behind them and so with Torreira having to play where he did again meant that Xhaka had to play ahead of the defence.

    Hopefully someone may have noticed that I purposely used the past tense above when justifying why I thought Xhaka had to play on Sunday, I did that because like everyone else I want to see a solution to something that clearly isn’t working properly but I have yet to read anyone point out the plan that to me is clearly in play to replace him.

    Guendouzi is the most obvious but again he is not ready to take on the serious responsibility of shielding the defence; he is not far off, possibly before the end of the season but not yet. And then there is the one that no one has mentioned and that is AMN. When Bellerin comes back what is Emery going to do with him? Stick him on the bench for potentially the rest of the season? No way, he has got to play and we could see him potentially shuffling Xhaka aside. Willock is another possibility but I think AMN is more advanced in development. There are quite a few options here and they are all very talented reasons why the club are not going to buy a ready-made replacement for him so with that in mind I would say that we are stuck with Xhaka for the ever-shortening future.

  36. Mike M says:

    LB and others !!!!!! I want to stress again that my reaction to Xhaka is not just based on the Spuds game. That is the proverbial straw. The culmination of the series of unacceptable actions by our Captain that proves that, IF we are going to advance, we need to replace him. I’ve said it for a year and a half now after trying to defend him and trying to see his upside for the prior two years. Rocky said he’s had good games for us. So did Mustafi. I think Song, Denilson and Eboue too. That’s not enough for me.
    Let me ask a question. Against any reasonable opposition, in a 4-3-3, who is the most important player? If you conclude the same as me, that’s your answer (and why incidentally UE played a 4-4-2 against Liverpool – because he didn’t trust a single central midfielder against their front three and gave them the wings but set up not to let them get behind us either out wide or centrally).
    I also think Brady’s Namesake has a point about letting people play to develop. In this situation, can Torreira do much worse? I’m convinced we bought him as a DM and that he can do the job. As BN said to me this morning, have we Kante’d Torreira? I think that’s also a good question.

  37. Mike M says:

    @RA – herein lies the big debate. For me because I’ve said it so many times (and I’m definitely not alone by a long chalk) it was easy to say BEFORE the game as well as after. So credit where it’s due and when I’m wrong. I’ll say so as well. The Xhaka myth is laying itself bare. I’m not going to say I told you (not you per say but the general you !!) because it doesn’t really matter. What does is that we learn from our mistakes and move forward.

  38. Mike M says:

    per se (my bad)

  39. GoonerB says:

    LB, all good points. I do however feel that in Luiz we are possibly staring the answer ( at least for this season) in the face.

    Luiz may be new to us but he is far from new to the premier league. Also although a CD primarily he operated for some time at Chelsea in the holding midfield role and during a period of club success. Chelsea fans I speak to suggest this is one of his most suitable roles.

    He is both bigger and quicker than Xhaka and reads defensive situations better than Xhaka. Also being Brazilian he would understand the South American dark arts better than Xhaka.

    I am not saying Luiz would work or be better necessarily. Maybe he is too old for that role now, but I feel we can afford to find out based on his prior success in the role and Xhaka’s increasing tally of mishaps in it.

  40. Mike M says:

    @ Rasp – great post – you certainly stirred up the hornet’s nest !! Great debate ‘though and it’s interesting to see as always how we all watch the same things and come up with such different conclusions !! I’m really intrigued as to why so many people think Torreira can’t play DM and again it begs the question what position did we sign him for?

  41. Rasp says:

    Hi Mike, another great day of forensic tactical analysis on AA – you’ll notice I wisely left it to the purist heavyweights like yourself 🙂

    Like you, I assumed we signed Torreira to be our Makele … and I’m pretty sure he looked like he was exactly that in his first few appearances. But something happened. Was it under instruction to play a different role? There have been rumours that he hasn’t settled well and doesn’t enjoy living in London.

  42. fatgingergooner says:

    I don’t think Xhaka’s been sent off for Arsenal since January 2017, has he? 2 and half years ago. I’ve read a lot about his flaws today, but his disciplinary record is certainly something that has improved as he’s matured.

    Whilst I am as frustrated by his tackle at the weekend as anyone else, I still see a lot in Xhaka’s game that will help us this season and I still believe that Emery will continue to play him moving forward. He seems to carry a lot of self belief and I don’t think he’s the type to wilt under pressure, unlike Gervinho and Mustafi who couldn’t deal with the abuse they received from the stands. We all love a vent from time to time and espescially when things are going badly wrong, but given the positive signs at the club, It would be a shame if the Arsenal supporters were to move onto another players back so quickly after jumping off Mustafi’s.

  43. LB says:


    My comment related solely to the game against spuds.

    I would very much be in favour of replacing Xhaka in the future with Luiz.

  44. LB says:

    Regardless of the good work that Xhaka does, while he continues to make school boy errors he will attract critics. Same goes for Mustafi.

  45. LBG says:

    Mike M
    I think Terrier can play DM, and was bought by some of management team to do the job. Not sure Dick was committed though.
    That said, like GoonerB, at present, I think Daviiid might do the job with more authority and ” South American nous”.

  46. Mike M says:

    @FGG. I like reading your stuff and we agree on a lot. It’s interesting to see how much we differ on Xhaka. I”m definitely on board with the overall direction being positive and I’m certain we have a much better squad than we did a year ago. But Xhaka has got me all riled up (in case you hadn’t noticed!!!). What I find frustrating is the predictability of it all. Again, not trying to rub it in, but when is enough enough? Next game, or the one after? Let’s agree to differ and after 10 games, come back and re-visit Xhaka. I want Arsenal to win, pure and simple. I’d love to be wrong about him because I think the rest of our team has the right attitude and that’s something (disciplinary record notwithstanding) I think he also falls short on. I think he’s had way long enough. Let’s give him a little more time and see. Apparently Unai is going to anyway !!!

  47. Rasp says:

    The cupboard is bare as regards posts …. anyone got a few lines to start us navel gazing tomorrow?

  48. LBG says:

    Mike M
    To clarify my comment on Dick’s commitment to Terrier. I think he wanted Nzondi.

  49. LB says:

    Does anyone actually think that we will see Luiz as a DM?

    On a scale of 1-10 I think there is 2 as in very, very little.

  50. LB says:


    I think that was the theory that came from ArseBlog podcast unless you have heard it else where?

  51. Rasp says:

    Is this the inevitable consequence of having different experts involved in sourcing players and training them I wonder. Arsene was clearly anti the idea of a director of football.

  52. Mike M says:

    @Rasp – how about “what do you think of Xhaka ?” ….. Oh wait ……..

  53. Mike M says:

    @ Rasp – seriously ‘though, that’s a great question. Has our new structure affected team selection and does it undermine the manager. Although I really thought Unai wanted Torreira and if what LGB says about Nzonzi is true, I’d be a little disappointed, espcially for such a key role in the team.

  54. Rasp says:

    I agree Mike. I’m not savvy enough about these matters to write it unfortunately.

  55. fatgingergooner says:


    I think we do agree on Xhaka but maybe you’ve just run out of patience for him whereas I still have a little bit left and maybe I’m more willing to accept a few of his transgressions until we can move him on. I don’t believe dropping him entirely will do anyone any good as it will reduce his value and possibly create unrest, so let’s enjoy his good performances and forgive the bad ones until we can get rid! 😂

    On a side note and not aimed at anyone in particular, regardless of how I feel about an Arsenal player, I will always want them to succeed and prove me wrong as ultimately I would rather be wrong and it benefit the club that I love, than watch an Arsenal player struggle just to be proved right. It frustrates me that some fans just hammer players so that they can turn round one day and say ‘I told you so’ (that may be way off the mark but that’s the way it feels at times). This isn’t a dig at you by the way as you certainly seem to have a level head when it comes to Arsenal, but it’s more a general assessment of what I see on Twitter and blogs etc. I have given Özil some stick over the last year or so and I think he was dreadful last season, but if he plays well I will always acknowledge it and I will always give him a clean slate at the beginning of every game and assess his performance on what I’ve just watched rather than some preconceived idea I have about him as a player (another thing that really pisses me off! 😂).

    Sorry, I’ve gone into a rant!!!

    I guess my point is that deep down I will always try to defend the players as at the end of the day, regardless of performance, they are Arsenal players. If we can’t defend them then who will!? Maybe that sometimes comes across in my comments and today is a perfect example with people thinking I really like Xhaka when in fact I agree with the general consesus that he will hold us back in the long run.

    Of course I could be totally wrong and maybe it’s the fact we all care so much that allows us to really get pissed of with our own. I do feel that something has been lost over the years though in terms of supporting your own clubs players. Maybe some of the older guys can elaborate on this a bit more. Has it always been ok to hammer your own players? Or is it more a case of we can say whatever we want about them because they play for Arsenal, but if another teams fans call our players into question then we defend them to the hilt? Has ‘support’ changed?

  56. fatgingergooner says:


    Luiz at HM? I can’t believe nobody has mentioned that idea before 😂😂😂

    I think you are being generous with a 2! 😂He has been bought as a direct Kos replacement and I see him as nothing else. Who knows though, a couple of injuries in midfield, or Holding coming back to fitness….stranger things have happened. Personally, I’d prefer to see Chambers get the opportunity first as he was good at HM for Fulham last season and would be a longer term option than Luiz who is coming to the end.

  57. Mike M says:

    @FGG. Agreed. I feel the same way. However I think there’s a time limit and for sure I’ve run out of patience. I defended Mustafi when others were slating him and I still think if he had a decent DM in front of him, he’d be a better player. There are central defenders that I don’t rate much more than Mustafi who play well because their team defensive ethic is better. Vertongen? Gomez? Matip? Stones? Otamendi? I’m not sure how individually good any of them are. The difference for me is in attitude. If you want to prove the point, look at Vertongen on an “off day”. Horrendous player. I think my biggest problem with Xhaka is he seems so indifferent to his deficiencies and has never worked to improve them. Just fitness alone. Disciplinary record – sure but then he misses so many tackles now because of his poor positioning and lack of work ethic that he’s a liability. “Support” hasn’t changed. We’ve been at this for a long time and it’s easy to tell true fans from others. But sometimes we feel the need to call a spade a spade. In Xhaka’s case, I’m at that point but if others want to defend him, that’s fine with me. If it’s just because he’s “one of us” I’m not sure that’s enough any more. He’s in his 5th season.

  58. fatgingergooner says:

    Fair points Mike,

    If at 27 his positioning isn’t there, his decision making is ponderous, and his ability to sniff danger isn’t sharp enough then it never will be. I really think this is a big season for Xhaka in terms of his Arsenal career and 4 games in it seems nothing’s changed. What really worries me is that we may be saying the same about Torreira soon as he just doesn’t look settled to me and doesn’t appear to have the managers trust. That’s a big and expensive gap in the middle of the pitch if one of those 2 can’t improve beyond what we are seeing at the moment.

  59. Mike M says:

    I think if Torreira is given a clear and defined role, he will be able to do it. I’m just not sure that’s how Dick sees it. Which worries me because at the end of the day, no matter what people on here assume I think about my opinion, it’s still just an unqualified opinion of a 55 yr old Gooner who’s had a lot of involvement in football, but is not a class A coach and manager of one of Europe’s top teams. I think most Arsene supporters (of which I was one) are a little burned by the “trust the manager because he must know what he’s doing” syndrome after AW’s last 4 years.It was 2 years later when I finally succumbed to his departure as being necessary. So lets see what happens.

  60. GoonerB says:

    Sorry late comment.

    LB, apologies, I didn’t pick up on your comment more referencing that game itself rather than your overall opinion. Also I tend to agree with you that the likelihood of Emery playing Luiz in that role is low, no matter how much some of us want it and go on about it.

    That also leads me to an agreement with FGG about disliking getting on a players back. I would love a maligned player to prove us wrong.

    However some players will just turn out to not be right or up to standard. If they are continued with then that comes down to the manager. Sometimes a manager has no opinion, but I believe in this case we have options so my focus will be more on how Emery does with this group of players this season, as I believe it is pretty decent.

  61. GoonerB says:

    Sorry, opinion meant options

  62. Aaron says:


    Goals conceded this season is against teams in the 1st, 9th, 12th and 14th spots. So, it is very close to mid-table so far, actually 9th average out of 20. Close enough for government work.

    Kaius, as Mike said earlier, 0 assists and 1 goal in last 16 games, mate, that is no form at all. Not doing anything is worse than doing something.

    Mustafi was poor for ages, and he never had someone play alongside him for cover for his weaknesses or in front of him for that matter.

    Watching Xhaka, is pure torture, he is turned easily, slow to react, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and just not athletic enough to make up for it in the position he is being asked to perform in. The system he is in is not a good fit.

    So, if Emery sees great things in practice from Xhaka, but does not see what happens to him and to the team against teams that press the hell out of him; what does that say about Emery’s ability to discern fact from fiction? He has the stats guys, and he watches hours of tape, that is what he is know for to a fault.

    The Arsenal can’t continue to give points away in a season that will probably come down to 1 point again.

  63. allezkev says:

    Football is a constantly evolving thing and in recent years we’ve seen the latest development of a tactic commonly known as the ‘press’ or put more basically harrying the opposition into making mistakes and losing possession.

    Barcelona pioneered this system of play but since the arrival of Guardiola and Klopp into the EPL it has grown in use and to a level beyond most of the other leagues in Europe and to where almost every team in the Premier League uses it to a greater or lesser degree.

    Liverpool are probably the best exponents of the press, with Man City a close 2nd, Liverpool have a midfield of athletes, not technicians, but they’re very successful, Champions of Europe and all that jazz and to some extent I think that success has hastened a change in how teams set up and maybe the demise of the No.10 in its purest form.

    So is Mesut Ozil, the classic No.10, obsolete?

  64. LBG says:

    Sorry I cant say where I picked up the Nzonzi comment. Certainly not directly from Arseblog as I dont read any other blogs.
    Thinking about it, and not wishing to bring him in to the conversation unless he confirms my memory, I believe RC may have talked of Dick’s penchant for larger ball-playing central midfield players when at PSG, like Nzonzi and Doucore (sorry, spelling). I wonder if he even knew much of Terrier!
    Anyway, I think a conversion of him to a box to box player, for the time being, can always be reversed when we have exhausted Daviids use to us – likely, for me, to be at the end of this season.

  65. Morning all

    Anyone got any ideas for a post for today ……. and for the next few days 😦 ……………. might be good to have a Xhaka free day 😉

  66. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post ..

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