All Arsenal players should have Xhaka’s strength of character

I have often questioned the mentality of our squad in recent years. by Dan  Smith

The pressure of a top 4 race was too much for the majority of our dressing room to handle last season when we simply didn’t show up at Spurs or Newcastle.

Arteta has tried to improve our mental strength by bringing in proven winners from Man City.

One of our few leaders for a long time has been Granit Xhaka, often not credited due to how he lost his role as permanent captain.

In many ways though, the way he has defended why he threw down the armband, his refusal to be pressured into an apology and his belief in his own convictions, forcing the fanbase to look at themselves, all show his strength of character.

The midfielder’s reputation was enhanced by the All Or Nothing Series, the documentary showing how he was one of the few vocal members of the dressing room.

The 30-year-old is again leading by example, immediately joining Arsenal’s tour of Dubai, choosing not to ask for any rest after the World Cup.

Clearly rest is an option, as it’s one Tomiyasu said he was taking after Japan were knocked out. That’s despite our defender starting just one of the possible 4 fixtures compared to Xhaka who started all of Switzerland’s fixtures in Qatar.

Xhaka has also played the majority of our games this campaign unlike Tomiyasu.

Given how he’s always played for us, Tomiyasu was one of the last Gunner’s attitudes I would ever question.

It’s a worrying sign of his mindset that the 24 didn’t feel the need to return to the Gunners immediately.

Of course, I’m not trivialising how adversity representing your country can impact your mental health.

Losing on penalties will haunt you more than Xhaka’s experience of a 6-1 drubbing. Ones easier to process then the other.

We will never know if it was just emotion talking and the full back saw sense the next morning or if his employers insisted, he got on a plane immediately and joined in with our mini winter pre-season.

At the very least, he can then have a face-to-face chat with his manager who can access his mental health.

I don’t want to hear players asking for rest though.

As a Gooner I want to know they are excited to put on the shirt and want to play because they don’t want their 5-point lead at the top of the table sacrificed by too many of the squad resting.

I blame the likes of Jürgen Klopp for this who has constantly told English Football how hectic the schedule is, even before the World Cup was played in November.

He’s such a high-profile voice that he’s impressionable on young fans and even players.

There is a generation of supporters now who think it’s a good thing if their team go out of the domestic cups, because it gives them a couple of weeks off in the calendar.

If people are making excuses for you constantly, do you start to believe it in your own head?

This whole ‘rest’ depending on what stage you come back from Qatar is a myth.

It’s not like any other year you wouldn’t be playing; you simply are spending December playing every few days for your country instead of your club.

I say play.

Martinelli’s played once in the last two weeks and Saliba hasn’t played a second for France nor has Ramsdale for England.

I would be disgusted if those names are not at the very least on the bench for Boxing Day.

Even if Saka played in the Final, unless there was adversity like a penalty miss (and the repeat of the racist abuse he got post Euros) I would want him available for West Ham.

I would be worried if that’s not what he wanted.

Being English, I might forgive him if the reason is he spent the week partying having lifted the trophy.

In all seriousness, Mikel Arteta speaks about principles and not accepting anyone who doesn’t follow his ethos.

I think he would be disappointed if anyone asked for a rest.

Let’s get back to work, give ourselves the best chance of three points at home to the Hammers, and send Man City to Leeds 2 days later 8 points behind us!!!!

A Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Seaman, Keown, Viera, Henry …. these were men who wouldn’t need a rest after international duty. Especially when their next competitive fixture is over two weeks away.

They knew the expectation of that shirt and that their peers would not have tolerated such an outlook.

Well done Xhaka for leading by example.


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  1. Xhaka’s mentality is definitely incredible. Regarding Tomiyasu, maybe he is resting to get healed quicker from his injury troubles whoxh plagued him during the world cup as well. I am not underestimating the mentality issues that might have cropped up but in my opinion it might be a rest period to let him heal. And consultations would have been carried out with MA and other coaching and medical staff I guess. So a little excessive to criticize Tomi over that maybe….

  2. Well, Mikel has turned Dad’s lazy sulking pampered spoilt boys to men while chucking out the rotten apples. Kudos to Xhaka, kudos to Mikel for mentoring Xhaka to be a strong personality on/off the pitch. Good , Mikel did his apprenticeship under Pep a man whose focus was to lift the EPL and just not the “Top Four Tropheee”
    Mikle has laid down the rules, these fellas have to shape up or ship out. A break for Tomi may have been sanctioned by Mikel as he knows when and where to integrate them into the starting line up. No more favorites, no more tikkitakka or whatever that nonsense was called, we need to protect out 5 point cushion and every player is vital.

    1. Let’s just appreciate the lads and leave the restto the coach.
      I think Mikel has done exceptionally well motivating these boys, though underrated and undermined, but have proved doubting Thomases wrong.
      The best is yet to come. Let burner be fired now more than ever.

  3. Stop it please. Enough is enough with the canonization of St. Granite. Let’s see what happens in May. Didn’t Switzerland just lose 1-6 and wasn’t he pathetic when Arsenal really needed him to step up against Newcastle last May??? Regarding Tomiyasu who was rushed into playing a full 90 minutes against Croatia, he wasn’t that bad. There was nothing between the two teams except Croatia were much better at taking penalties. Also it’s clear now that the Croatian goalkeeper is much stronger on his right,which is where the Japanese were targeting. Unfortunately for Tomiyasu, Martinellii , Partey and co their disappointment is a gift for Arsenal as they will now have more healing time.

    1. The whole team were pathetic against Newcastle and spurs mate
      This season though one of our players of the season

  4. But Tomi flew to Dubai to meet up with the squad the very next day, didn’t he? Such a fuss when a player says something straight after a game he feels he was poor in and fans trash him for his poor attitude. Have you never said “I give up” in the aftermath of an incident, in the emotional situation of a loss and then after a short while turned adversity into wanting to show the world how good you are?

  5. Vlahovic rumors re-emerging again.. Juventus seems to be in hot water over unpaid taxes, embezzlement or something like that..?

    I would love us to have Mudryk but I think it could wait until summer. We have more options on the wing (Saka, Marti, Nelson, ESR etc) than we have as strikers.

    Would love to have Vlahovic here. Juve could sell as they have Milik as backup and IF they need the money. With his stature I think he could play with Jesus upfront, but let’s remember Jesus is apparently out until March. If we can’t have a striker to step up, our title run is over. I can’t see Nketiah doing that for several months and I sure as hell don’t want our title hopes to rest on experiments like Martinelli as striker.

    Another option I really like is Portos Mehdi Taremi. Proper target man he is.

      1. Grant chika is a great character and is highly most professional as far as iam concern. Mikel ateta knew right from the onset that Granit(zhaka) is a real professional footballer and a likeable personality .

    1. Am not a person who can hold a grudge, even if I try so please see with me.

      It is said the old lady is ready to cash in on Vlohovic, now if that report is through the gaffer should test the waters one more time.

      This would have comes at the perfect time as this is a signing needed even before Jesus got injury.

      I know some fans may have an issue with this signing but my takes on such matters are well documented.

  6. I agree with Dan on this one, this season is special and our players should treat it so. Without world Cup they would hav been playing every 3 days anyway. We hav 5 point we need to protect and we need every one on deck

  7. Xhaka is a different animal, had known this for many moons.

    His mentality is definitely different, he’s one of those characters needed around the club long after his playing days.

    Did you know a perfectly healthy person will feels sick if the tell their self that they’re sick ?

  8. So funny. One guy insults the fans, grabs his crotch in front of opposing players bench at a World Cup and he’s considered a hero. Another player throttles an opposing player for going in to hard one one of our players, then taunts opposing players about their meagre salaries and he’s considered a hot head. The hypocrisy here is hilarious 😂

  9. @NY_Gunner and @Gunsmoke, I think it’s more than that, a lot must have gone wrong behind the scenes regarding the said player, remember the Dubai traning camp fiasco,

    1. VGod
      I do agree it’s a little more than the salary bragging.

      Honestly am not sure the gaffer was fond of him and it may have something to do with his mannerism, and he may not be one you wants around the good apples for obvious reasons and that’s okay for me.

      But why give him away for nuts , while we could renew his contract and ship him out as he develops as it was clear to all he has talent, then sell him for market price
      He is a France international shortly after and that’s no easy feat, Arsenal needs all those funds.
      But the gaffer has learned and am sure he would not have done that today.

      But it is said great men makes major blunder

  10. I find myself on board with the general theme in DANS pertinent article.

    Though I do think it is a deal more nuanced in some cases and all players react in various individual ways, so I do not use Xhakas undoubted strengthof character as a yardstick for all to copy.

    But I repeat ,in GENERAL, I do accept DANS argument.

    My view is that in todays world, generally speaking, people, and players are of course also people , are NOT AS TOUGH they were a generation ago and for all history prior to that.
    The more human comforts you can afford , then the more pampered you become. Again, only in general, but the principle is a common one and exceptions are, well, exceptions!

    It is no surprise therefore to humankind watchers that as each generation passes, well off people expect still more from life and that creates a false narrative about how life for almost all non wealthy people is often painful and even desperate.

    Huge wealth shields those who have it from experiencing the desperation and agony of poverty . Poverty of ambition, of self esteem AND of material comfort.

    This is why I constantly bang on about the obscenity of huge and distorted wealth for a FEW people when so MANY suffer daily.

    I find that appalling personally and despise my own continued acceptance , by being a willing fan, of the one rule for the hugely wealthy(players and agents) but all the rest having to make sacrifices.

    I have never accepted the rotten principle of huge human unfairness, even though I am too weak to practise what I PREACH , MUCH OF THE TIME. SIGH!

  11. Let’s just appreciate the lads and leave the restto the coach.
    I think Mikel has done exceptionally well motivating these boys, though underrated and undermined, but have proved doubting Thomases wrong.
    The best is yet to come. Let burner be fired now more than ever.

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