The Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka is currently with his national team preparing for a crack at the World Cup, but he is still being asked if he felt that the criticism he has received from the pundits have begun to annoy him. “No! I can deal with it,” he replied.
“Although I do not always understand the critical tones, and occasionally wondered who said everything. But there are speeches from former greats, for which I have great respect.
“In the mental aspect, the pressure is enormous. I am not surprised; these are the conditions under which I moved to England. The enormous esteem that I feel within the club is proof to me that I did not do so much wrong.”
The fact is that the media do have an agenda against Arsenal and do their utmost to pick scapegoats on an ongoing basis, and Xhaka and Bellerin, and maybe Ozil as well this season, have been subjected to much vitriol, and it can’t be easy for the players to listen to the gripes against them all the time.
The big problem is that many Arsenal fans start to join in the chorus and slag off our own squad as well. Xhaka admits that this is normal when you play for teams that expect regular success. “Arsenal is extremely interesting to many people,” he said. “That’s just part of being a top club. The supporters and fans can expect a lot, that’s their right. Our demands are high too.”
But should there even be scapegoats. If the team lose then surely it is a collective responsibilty. It is a team game first and foremost and everyone is responsible and have to work together. Every player has good days and bad days, and should be helping each other out, just like the fans should get behind the team when they are winning or losing. Xhaka is no more or less responsible than anyone else picking and on him is not going to help him, us or the team. It is good that he strong-willed and can take the pressure but why should he be forced to?
In our next campaign can we be a little more tolerant of errors on the pitch. Nobody is perfect! Not even YOU!