Xhaka: First Name on the Team Sheet

July 6, 2020

 

Unknown-2                        Granit Xhaka: if the (horse) shoe fits…

Over the years the Granit Xhaka debate has popped up on here with the mind-numbing regularity of an Amazon delivery man during lockdown.

But – miracle of miracles – one of AA’s veteran contributors has found a way of throwing new light on this old discussion.

I refer to LB, and his post-match report on our win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Keen-eyed LB came up with an excellent description for the way we set out to counteract a dangerous and confident Wolves side. He called it “The Horseshoe.” I’ll let the man explain for himself:

“The horse-shoe football that took place for the best part of the first half was clearly designed to drain Wolves of enthusiasm. Luiz to Soares, back to Luiz out to Kolasinac, back to Luiz, over and over creating the shape of a horse-shoe.”

It was one of those descriptions that, when you read it, you went: “Of course! That’s exactly what it was like. Why didn’t I think of that analogy.”

The horseshoe may not have been the most dynamic way to approach a football match, but it was effective in stifling a potent Wolves attack.

The formation – whether you call it a back five, a back three or a 3-4-3 – gave us plenty of bodies at the defensive end of the field including three excellent passers (Luiz, Tierney and Soares), one reasonably decent passer (Mustafi) and one just-about-acceptable passer (Kolasinac).

But what made the horseshoe function, I believe, was the loose nail sitting inside the U of the horseshoe: Granit Xhaka.

Xhaka operated as part of the horseshoe, sometimes receiving the ball from the centre backs and spreading it to the wingbacks, sometimes vice versa.

He played a crucial role in dictating the rhythm and pace of our play (I referred to him in the comments yesterday as our metronome).

Thinking about LB’s horseshoe, and contemplating how Xhaka had played, that’s when I had my “eureka moment.” It dawned on me that Mikel Arteta had designed the horseshoe precisely to allow for the best use of Xhaka.

I think we all know we have a somewhat unbalanced group of midfielders in our squad and, as a result, the centre of the park has often been the area in games where we have struggled the most (too often failing to provide a good base for creating chances and equally failing to protect our defence, contributing to the amount of defensive cock-ups we have had to endure).

If we had a Vieira, a Gilberto, a Flamini, even an Arteta things would be different and we could set up with a back four.

But we don’t, so Arteta has devised a system that best uses the resources we have.

Xhaka is not a defensive midfielder, so playing him ahead of a back four leaves us vulnerable to opponents breaking through the middle. But with a back three/five, it’s a different story. There are enough defensively minded teammates to stifle the opposition and Xhaka is able to perform his main job of keeping possession, moving the ball from side to side and occasionally probing for an opening.

It’s not a glamorous job: in this system Luiz, Tierney and Soares/Bellerin are more likely to be delivering the progressive passes than Xhaka. Xhaka just has to keep the machine ticking over, and he does it well.

We were a worse team after he went off against Manchester City and we were poor without him against Brighton.

I know some will say that Torreira could play as a traditional defensive midfielder, but I just do not see that in him. He is tenacious and hard-working, but he is not physical enough and does not have Xhaka’s positional sense or passing range.

Not everyone will agree with this (LBG mounted a strong counter argument against Xhaka yesterday in comments), but I have now arrived at the truly remarkable point where, when I make my imaginary selection for our up-coming games, Xhaka’s is the first name on the team sheet.

RockyLives

 

 

 

 


Hello, Hello, Arsenal are back, Arsenal are back.

July 5, 2020

A very clever game plan, hatched by Arteta and superbly executed by the team, enabling us to come away from Molineux will all three points. No easy task as that ground had become a fortress and seen a fair few top teams unexpectedly tumble.

Continuing with Rocky’s theme from his excellent pre-match, I wouldn’t say Wolves were slain, it struck me as being more akin to slowly having the life squeezed out of them, not the deadly rapid bite of a rattle snake but the slow asphyxiation of a large Boa constrictor.

The horse-shoe football that took place for the best part of the first half was clearly designed to drain Wolves of enthusiasm. Luiz to Soares, back to Luiz out to Kolasinac, back to Luiz, over and over creating the shape of a horse-shoe. Of course, I cannot be certain that it was Arteta’s plan to drain Wolves of enthusiasm but it certainly worked on me. Occasionally, the ball would be played to Xhaka or Ceballos in midfield but they simply played it back and the horse-shoe continued. It was starting to get hard to see how things would change. Saka and Soares looked strangers and understandably so as it was the first game they played together and you know when things are bad, when Mustafi has to shout to try and get the front line to make runs.

But then it changed, like an arm wrestle of evenly matched men, something eventually has to give and it did. A cross from Tierney was deflected invitingly for the waiting Saka to hit home. Not as easy to score as I have just said as he still had work to do to readjust his body quickly after the deflection but the young man did so superbly and deserved his first premiership goal.

Wolves naturally increased the pressure in search of an equaliser but it was back to the hypnotic defensive horse-shoe and Wolves remained under our spell for the remainder of the half.

Arteta’s game plan became more readable with the sequence that the substitutes were introduced. For a moment it didn’t make sense why AMN replaced Tierney but then it all fell into place; AMN was sent on to be the enforcer, to add some street fighting brute strength to deal with the marauding Traore and he carried it off well, controlled but forceful.

By this time Wolves had thrown caution to the wind and were coming on to us very high up putting pay to the horse-shoe, good in one sense but a bit worrying in the other as it seemed only a question of time before an equaliser appeared. Time for more substitutions; Bellerin and Willock came on to shore things up and they did so effectively. Hector looked serious; he has got some real competition for his place at last and Willock slots into that role of chasing down and carrying the ball out so well but as Wolves may have started to think that it may not be their day we were still not out of the woods. Time for further substitutions and what turned out to be the coup de gras. Is there a player who likes scoring more than Lacazette? He just lights up, it is as though it is the reason he lives, a superbly taken goal and as it turned out, game over.

Martinez: my MOTM, I arrive at this by asking myself: who played better than is normally expected? All the team played well but for me our man between the sticks certainly played better than I was aware he could. 9

Soares: defended well in his first start, obviously need more time to really get to gripes with what he is about but so far so good. 7

Mustafi: solid, no mess ups, all good 8

Luiz: back to his commanding best. 9

Kolasinac: didn’t realise he had the discipline to play in a three man back line but 2 clean sheets can’t be stiffed at. 7

Tierney: going from strength to strength. 8

Ceballos: slightly more subdued after his commanding performance against Norwich. It was his job to feed the attack which left a bit to be desired, still, very glad we have him. 7

Xhaka: hmmm, one of his key jobs as a midfielder was to create chances for the forward line, he wasn’t really doing that but there is no denying that his experience is very useful. 7

Saka: If Martinez gets injured would Saka go in goal? He probably does have the skills to play keeper. A very exciting versatile prospect, although, it wasn’t all champagne and new contracts today, but hey, if you score you get extra points. 8

Nketiah: really good first half shot that surprised the keeper, all still going in the right direction. 7

Aubamayang: got better and better as the game went on, a class act. 8

LB


Xhaka to Milan? An opportunity to get a real midfield enforcer

November 14, 2019

According to various news outlets, Xhaka has made up his mind. He would like to leave AFC after his fall out with the fans. Gazidis tested the waters with him and Xhaka is now keen to join AC Milan. The news goes as far as saying that he was spotted looking for a house in Milano. This could all be fake news but let us assume that these rumours are true…

Xhaka is still worth 45M EUR in the current market so I think we can recoup our investment…If the guy leaves, there are a few things that we can say about him:

  1. He did not hide, played with heart and always gave a 100%
  2. His teammates and managers seem to recognize his leadership competencies
  3. His passing range was not bad at all
  4. He did not live up to the expectations
  5. He was maybe played out of position
  6. He crystallized the failure of the team in the last few seasons
  7. He will not be sorely missed

Now if he goes, we need to replace him for sure because the gap at DM would become wider with his departure. In January, opportunities to land a quality player are usually rarer than in the summer. That said, there is always space to make a “coup”. Here are some ideas:

  1. Allan from Napoli wants to leave after his house was broken into by disappointed fans;
  2. Emre Can has hit rock bottom at Juventus and wants to leave;
  3. Matic (I know I know but I have to list him nevertheless)
  4. Zakaria but would be hard to get him now as his team is first in the Bundesliga
  5. SMS may be persuaded to join us
  6. No one and ask Chambers or Luiz to play DM
  7. Rakitic from Barcelona, he recently gave an interview saying he was sad at Barcelona

Anyways, if Xhaka leaves, we have an opportunity to upgrade at DM or at least bolster our defensive cohesiveness in midfield. I hope we do the right thing and take this opportunity and make the right investment.

RC78

 


Attack attack attack – get used to it.

September 21, 2019

Still basking in victory. The Frankfurt match report was always going to be a tricky assignment !! Much to love as many have stated. Much to fear as many have stated. So I’ve come to a conclusion about Dick, based on the following evidence:

1) Overall inability to defend as a team.

2) None of Xhaka, Toreira or Guendouzi playing a responsible role as a defensive lynchpin.

3) Two second half goals conceded against Watford, bringing off Ceballos and leaving Ozil and Pepe on.

4) 1-0 up away in Europe against an at least decent team. Bring off Smith Rowe (who at least tracks back somewhat) and put Pepe on (who doesn’t really defend – period). Bring off Willock and put Ceballos on (possible like for like but JW gave us a ball winning presence which was important last night).

5) We won the above game 3-0.

So my conclusion is, Dick just isn’t interested in defending. He thinks we can outscore everyone. His solution to winning games we’re ahead in is to go further ahead. Conventional wisdom says keep it tight, secure the win. Not Dick. He wants more goals. His signings have been very attacking – even Luiz as a CB. He’s decided we can’t build a good enough defence to win games consistently so he’s just gonna build a better attack. Which he’s doing. He’s in his second year with an option for a third. Most people think if he gets us into the CL, he’ll get a 3rd year. But… there are lots of others who think he’s just not the man for the job. So Dick is coming out swinging. He doesn’t just want to scrape into the CL, he wants to catch City, finish 2nd, win all the Cups. Then he’ll get his extension.

I’m kinda tongue in cheek here but this is a great opportunity for Emery. We are a big club. They said he couldn’t cut it at PSG. He’s not waiting for slow and steady. He wants results now. It’s the only explanation I can come up with. Why doesn’t Xhaka sit in? Yet Emery plays him every game? Because he’s doing what the manager wants – getting forward. Screw defending – lets score goals.

And you know what, if I just accept it and go with the flow, it might be a fun ride. There will be ups and downs but it’s not going to be dull !!!

And lastly, for anyone that thinks that’s a stupid idea (on his part – mine’s just a theory !!!)? Remember a certain Mr Klopp and his two seasons at Liverpool before Van Dijk ???

Mike


Torreira and Xhaka – what are their best positions?

August 29, 2019
This week there has been a lot of discussion about how our collection of mid-fielders fit into different systems and what our best combination could be. The following comments formed part of that discussion a couple of days ago.
Mike M says:

FGG. Here’s a question that I don’t know the answer to, mostly because I didn’t really know anything about him before we signed him but what role do you think we signed Torreira for?

I really though he’d be our anchor DM along with Xhaka. Indeed when we signed Xhaka I thought that’s what he was too !! Now I understand interchanging so if LT or XG go forward, someone covers them but without the ball, shouldn’t they be our deep lying midfielder and if we lose the ball, be busting a gut to get back in front of the defence centrally? Or is it that the roles are changing in the PL?

fatgingergooner says:

Mike,

I have to say that they’ve both baffled me a little as well. I think roles have changed a little in that clubs now realise you can get more from a HM player than just tackling, so in that respect these 2 could be perfect modern day players as they both offer more (Xhaka with his long passing and Torreira with his attacking play) but the problem seems to be that neither does the defensive part well enough in the first place!

I can’t answer your question about why they were bought, but what I would say is that there are a couple of things to ponder when looking at the signings. Firstly, they were bought by different managers who have different ideas about what our midfield should look like, and secondly, and probably more importantly, they were both bought within a certain budget limitation.

What I mean by that is sometimes when you don’t have infinite financial backing, you have to compromise a little bit on a players skill set and hope that you can develop him as you want, which is always a bit of a gamble. Maybe both managers saw tenacious, tough tackling players and thought they could mould them into a HM type, but actually when they’ve had them on the training ground, it’s turned out that they don’t quite have the discipline or the ability to read the game as they had hoped.

Xhaka just seems to lack the ability to sniff danger before it’s happened, whereas Torreira doesn’t quite have the positional discipline required and seems to enjoy getting involved in the attack a little more than expected. I wonder if both were bought with that HM position in mind but it just hasn’t worked out.

I actually think they were our best partnership last season and their skill sets complimented each other fairly well. I’d like to see them get another crack as a pair or maybe even as a 3 with Willock behind 3 attacking players.

It seems to me that we have been collecting mid-fielders in the hope that some turn out to be the players we require in the positions we need them. If Emery is going to find the right combination, how long is it going to take?

peachesgooner


Arsenal in The Middle of a Defensive Dilemma

August 16, 2019

Let’s look at the best DM’s around and figure out who we’d take if we had our choice. Then let’s see who we have and what they’re capable of. Then come to a conclusion on how we should best set up.

For me, past best was Busquets. Best now is Kante in my opinion.

A good DM needs the following attributes in this order

1) Positional discipline
2) Ability to win the ball including anticipation and agility
3) Reading the game and opponents in possession
4) Pressure in our defensive third to stop easy balls though and behind the last line
5) Ball distribution
6) Offensive threat and creativity including goals

I think Busquets had 1-4 in spades and 5 was just a Barca thing. Kante has 1-4. Strangely enough Sarri didn’t think that was enough and brought in Georginho who has #1 and 5 but lacks the rest from what I see.

If I could pick a DM for us it would be Kante. His extreme engine makes him better than the rest just because if he is out of position his recovery speed is incredible. Leicester and Chelsea will attest to that.

So what do we have?  No Kante. That’s certain.

Torreira is the closest in my opinion. Probably a little better distribution but definitely the best at winning possession and breaking up play.

Guendouzi has the engine but lacks a little positional discipline and probably not as good a ball winner.

You all probably know how I feel about Xhaka but if not, let me clarify. He has 5 and 6. No clue about 1-4. Probably our least effective DM as far as I can see.

Luiz would be proficient at 2 and 5 and Chambers at 1 and 4.

So for me,Torreira is way ahead and Guendouzi next best. For those of you that think Willock, I’d agree 100% on one contingency. Emery.

And that’s where I see the solution lies. UE needs to act like a manager in control of his team and instruct – no DEMAND that his DM plays the role. I think Joe Willock would happily do the job if he’s given the task and he checks all the boxes. So come on Unai, sort it out and make us solid. Pep, Klopp and Pochettino would. Will you?

Mike M


Do we need to play with a holding midfielder? If so, who?

August 13, 2019

Liam posed this question to GoonerB…

I agree that a Guendouzi/Xhaka midfield pairing isnt likely to work in big games, but what pairing would you prefer moving forward?

This is the response from GoonerB …

Liam, your question earlier about how to set up with the midfield behind our front 3 (assuming that will be Auba, Laca and Pepe as 1st choice). I am not too sure what the best answer is to the midfield 3. I feel the problem is that we haven’t been playing with what I would view as a holding midfielder.

I don’t feel any of Xhaka, Guendouzi, and arguably even Torreira, are actually specialist holding midfielders (that invisible wall) in the way that Gilberto was and say Fernandinho is.

All of them look to be more free roaming box to box or creative defensive midfielders if you like. None of them seem to be that player dedicated to tidying up and being the screen in front of the back 4. Torreira is probably the closest but even he seems to be more suited to being a free roaming defensive midfielder. Willock could also be best suited to the BTB role as well so would join Xhaka, Guondozi and Torreira on the list for that role.

I think that Ozil, Ceballos and Micki are more suited to being ACM’s, so we have a choice of 3 for that role. My feeling is that we need to have a proper holding midfielder, and I wonder if either Chambers or Luiz would make us stronger in that part of the field. Then choose 1 from Torreira, Willock, Xhaka and Douzi for the BTB CM role, and 1 from Ozil, Ceballos and Micki for the ACM position.

I would suggest that while we seem to have a clutch of ‘free roaming box to box defensive midfielders’ who also love to join in the attack there’s needs to be really good on field communication between whoever makes up the two or three in front of the defence to control a defensive screen. I would love to see a midfield that really controls the game.

On to Burnley …………. it will be interesting to see how we set up.

peachesgooner, GoonerB and Liam


Unai, Wake Up! … Xhaka + Özil + Mhki = Disastrous Defending

August 7, 2019

My take on the pre-season is now focused on what we can expect from the coming season based on what we saw, how we ended last season and what improvements, if any, we have made.

Summary of last season is that we had a very effective “new manager bump” which put us in pole position to qualify for the Champions League. However with a typically Arsenally (what we used to refer to as Spursy) finish to the season we blew it in what I think was pretty spectacularly bad fashion. There were fundamental problems:

  1. We couldn’t defend properly and conceded way too many poor goals. My humble opinion on this is that as bad as our defenders appeared to play, we just defended horribly as a team. Our pressing during the first part of the season was quite good but after March, it was amateurish. We had no one who could hold the ball and relieve pressure. We had also signed what I think is a very good keeper which made it all the more frustrating.
  2. We weren’t direct going forward and (as usual) had no plan B if teams parked the bus. Our playmakers (Ozil, Miki and Iwobi) failed fairly miserably as a group. When Ramsey finally got into the team, he offered directness and we played better. When he got hurt, we were done.
  3. We had no heart, balls whatever word you want to use. A team devoid of leadership and such a weak mentality, I thought we were Spurs during the 2000’s!!! Seriously though, both us and Manure were horribly weak mentally and the final positions reflected that.

So I was looking to Unai to change three things really. Mentality, mentality and mentality.

On to pre-season. We won our first few games, beat Bayern and went 2-0 ahead against Madrid. I wrote in my match report I wondered if we’d really turned the corner or if we’d revert to type.

We did the latter. Gave that match away, played really quite well against Lyon (apparently, I didn’t see it) and lost that one, then lost against Barca after I thought, a fairly competent first half performance and a 1-0 lead. I know it’s pre-season but what have we learned?  Apparently not a lot. Here are my concerns with the manager for the coming season.

  1. We still aren’t defending well as a team. I don’t see that has been addressed. It strikes me as strange that at 2-0 ahead against a 10 man Real, then our most experienced defender gets 2 yellows in 5 mins. We had opportunities to kill the game off. We go in 2-0 up at half time, then he brings off Willock and leaves Ozil to defend ahead of our full back. We coughed it up and if Ascencio hadn’t got hurt, would have probably lost. And we still had 2 golden chances to win the game at the end but failed to take them. We lose to Lyon after a couple of marginal decisions and AMN not having the greatest of games. Why? If he’s not motivated after pulling the shirt on, who is? (I know he’s had some problems in his personal life so I’m giving him the benefit). Where’s the manager in this? Then we lose to Barca after being ahead 1-0 at half time because again we take off our best midfielder and put Ozil to defend our right and Miki to defend the left. No wonder we aren’t happy with how they played. They can’t defend !!!!!!!!!! Does Unai know that?
  2. Granit Xhaka. I still don’t put Mustafi in this category, Granit stands alone for me. Maybe I’m mistaken but a holding midfielder needs strength, agility, speed and awareness. Xhaka has none of these. His tackling is poor, he gives away loads of free kicks and possession because he’s poorly positioned, misread the situation or just gets outmuscled, outfought or outrun. Compared him to his top 5 peers. Kante, Jorginho (who’s not great either), Fernandinho, and basically any of the Liverpool or Spuds midfield. Not only would he not get a look in at any of them, he wouldn’t even start at United. Not to mention Wolves, Everton, Leicester. What does he do well? He strikes a ball and makes the occasional sublime pass. But I see the same Xhaka as last season and for those of you that know me, what Emery does with Xhaka was going to define how I see his second season. I have been a fan and advocate of Emery since he started and firmly believed he should be given a year, which he has been. I just don’t understand his persistence with Xhaka.
  3. MENTALITY!!! We are soft. No one expects us to take the lead and hold it. Pre-season has just re-iterated that and in any sport, winning becomes a habit. So does losing and weak mental performance. I know Klopp said you can’t become a big winner without losing big first. Hope he’s right because if so, we’ll win the quadruple this year !!! But I’m not holding my breath. Liverpool, City and Spuds are miles ahead of us in this category. And it’s squarely down to their managers.

In trying to be balanced, I must say I’m completely impressed with our transfer window. Hopefully we’ll sign a central defender which will make it an 11/10 instead of the 8.5/10 it is now. I also believe the signings we have made, although not defensive, will help with our ball retention and therefore indirectly with our defending as a team.

Pepe and Ceballos look like they’ll be tremendous signings and there’s more than one way to defend. So let’s see what Unai has planned. I’m concerned we haven’t signed a CB and if Xhaka starts and Miki and Ozil are deployed in front of our full backs, I see a frustrating season ahead.

Please prove me wrong Unai and Granit !!!!!!!!!

Mike M


If Only Granit was Rock Solid … The Xhaka Debate …

July 31, 2019

Following our defeat last Sunday, the discussion began to focus on the role of Granit Xhaka.

Why?

In many ways it was a typical Xhaka performance.

Could it be that we are looking for the next weak link as the new players arrive and consequently the quality of the squad improves?

Is Granit part of that mind-set that has taken defeat too philosophically in recent years? I want our players to really hurt after a poor performance, and like me, I want that hurt to go on for days .. usually right up to the next game and the opportunity for redemption.

I want a player in his position to orchestrate the game, to be the solid anchor that holds everything together, who protects the defence and instigates the attacks. A player who can drive the play forward … a leader.

Others sought a more technical analysis of Granit’s role in the side. Here are some very interesting takes on his effect on the team:

GoonerB

The area that actually concerned me most was the base of our midfield. I think as much as we talk about our CD, it is the porous lack of protection directly in front of the back line that is a major cause of concern with me. We certainly need to be looking at our central defence independently, but we need to consider that first line of defence, their screen, as well.

In our line up yesterday that chief responsibility should have fallen on Xhaka, but I watched carefully, and for me he was constantly positioning himself about 10m too far forwards leaving dangerous players on our goal side of him, when it probably should be the other way around.

He lacks pace so does not make up that ground if they gain possession, so the defence are massively exposed and caught between retreating towards goal or having one of them step out to try and cut off what the defensive midfield should for the most part be dealing with.

It is almost as if he doesn’t see it as his role and sees himself as more a creator, and that this responsibility should fall to others to pick up the mantle. Interestingly that was his role before he came to us and he was always paired with someone who covered behind him defensively more.

The problem here is that often more creative players than him end up holding a deeper position to cover for his wanderlust, and I saw that on a few times with Ceballos at times.

Also, the odd Hollywood ball or decent forward pass at times aside, Xhaka actually slows our game down to much and we lack forward momentum. I actually started to feel that I was watching a more shouty, face scowly, Denilson.

It wouldn’t surprise me that, like Denilson, Xhake has great stats for touches on the ball and number of passes and completion rate, but most of the time they are very reserved and safe and don’t make anything happen.

I noted that Ceballos drove us forward far more effectively when he got on the ball so he shouldn’t be covering defensively behind Xhaka. Neither should Torreira when he comes back who I also feel has more forward incisive play in him than Xhaka, and I still maintain that Iwobi could be an excellent forward thinking BTB player as well.

It all makes me wonder exactly what he specialises in and brings to us. He seems to not want to be the chief DM, so we are left still searching for that player, but in the role he seems to prefer for himself we have better options.

I kind of feel that Douzi is also a bit Xhaka like in that assessment at present as I have watched him more but at his age can develop in a couple of potential directions more so should stay with us, maybe not regular first team standard yet though. When those 2 play together I don’t feel we look that strong or balanced.

If we were to bring in a specialist holding midfielder (with what we seem to be about to spend elsewhere) we need to free up squad space, funds and wages. I just feel he is not quite right for us and we aren’t balanced in midfield with him. Again I feel he is probably a good CM at a slightly lower level.

Mike M’s response:

Gooner B, agree wholeheartedly. I think my question is how does UE see these players. I agree giving the young players game time is a good idea but he is playing Xhaka and Mustafi as well as the other 4 i mentioned too. Does that mean in his mind they’re staying to be part of the squad for next season?

I’m not sure so that’s my question. I’ll say this too, however unpopular it might be, I’d take Mustafi’s effort and attitude (I really think he tries hard, he’s just not very good or smart) over Xhaka, Miki, Ozil any day. I still think he needs to go, but I’m really stuck on attitude and mentality with this team right now. Am I wrong? Are there any positives in mentality we can take from what we’ve seen so far.

This from LBG

GoonerB
More high class, spot on analysis of Xhaka! Your analysis of his positional sense as a central midfielder is exactly mine. I believe he does not regard it as his responsibility either to hold a defensive position when we don’t have the ball or make a corrective run to pick up loose attacking players in dangerous forward positions. I believe in fact this the crux of our defensive frailty- ” the base of the midfield “.

As most know, I don’t even regard highly his so called spray passing ability as he is too slow in those passes and they are quite often cut out. Given his lack of pace too, he’s argumentative, sometimes ridiculously, attitude to officials, one might guess I have little regard for him and believe any success in the Swiss team is largely due to the quality around him. Said, done, nothing more from me on Xhaka, except an hooray if we sell him.

RC78’s view:

I am a firm believer that having Mustafi and Xhaka on the pitch for us will continue to hamper our chances and will lead to goals and chances conceded. If I could sell only 2 players, they would be my top pick. I d rather give Bielik and Chambers a chance than to see Xhaka and Mustafi play for us again.

You may see the above comments as harsh criticism. We should not be looking for the next scapegoat. The abuse directed at Mustafi shames us all. Any player wearing the shirt should get our unconditional support at games.

So try to be objective and let us know how you value Xhaka’s role in the team.

Rasp


Sell Aubameyang for £70m …. Deal or No Deal?

June 19, 2019

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our 2018/19 golden boot winning striker turned 30 this week. There have been rumours that Man Utd are considering making a £70m bid for him. If we accepted such a bid, we would make a nett profit of around £14m, so not a massive return on our investment on the surface. But, in these times of austerity and with a rumoured transfer budget of a paltry £40m … what could we do with that extra £70m? … or even a £100m+ if we sell Xhaka as well. Seal a leaky defence? Buy a midfield maestro to replace Ramsey? Bring in proper wide attacking players? Maybe all of the those options?

This question was posed by blogger LBG a few days ago …

So let’s heat things up!
If we get an offer of 70m for a 30 year old Aubameyang from Manure, and an offer of 35m for Xhaka, I say sell them both and use the 100m to fill the gaps we actually have.

These are some of the responses it has drawn …

From Sue …

Atletico want Xhaka (you’re having a giraffe, right?!) albeit I’d quite happily drive him to the airport & bundle Mustafi in the car too & tell them it’s a bogof deal… oh happy days 😝

This from Els …

LBG – too risky for me to sell Auba and Xhaka. We already have too much business to do and too many first teamers to replace. We need to keep as much consistency as possible now. Other than that £105m for those too would be nice. I’d want to replace with a good few academy promotions and then some free transfers. Then we give all that money to Ramsey see if he’ll come back.

RC78 posted this …

I am happy to let both El Neny and Xhaka go but I d like to keep Auba unless we have an offer exceeding 50 Mln pounds for him.

From GoonerB …

LBG in answer to your question, if we were to get £35m for Xhaka and £70m+ for Auba I would take it. I love Auba but at 30 years old those figures are tempting and those funds could secure a key but expensive option elsewhere.

Aaron’s thoughts …

Sell Auba and Xhaka for $100+ million, in a New York second. I will be encouraged if we buy some CB’s and another strong DM. We do not want any injury prone hail mary’s or 35 year old cast off’s. Bring up someone exceptional, a 20-25 year gem that actually has a body that can take the EPL punishment.

It would appear from the above that there is an acceptance amongst some of the fanbase that we may have to do a ‘Liverpool’ and sell one gem (or maybe two) to buy different gems that could plug some gaping holes in the team … or do you think otherwise?