Gary Neville explains why Xhaka isn’t totally at fault

Arsenal dropped two points thanks to the silly error by Granit Xhaka, and Gary Neville isn’t laying all the blame on the midfielder.

The team had plenty of opportunities to take a grip on the game before the scores were levelled by the midfielder’s mistake, and even more chances with the scores tied.

Neville wasn’t concentrating on what the team should have done however, but explains that the error by Xhaka is down to the coaching.

The team has clearly been given instructions to play out from the back, and personally Leno sees Xhaka under pressure and moves into space for the ball to be returned to him which isn’t getting a mention, but the 28 year-old tries to find the pass out wide to Calum Chambers using his weaker foot, and it all goes wrong.

Neville believes that part of the blame has to go onto the coaching staff, as Xhaka would have been instructed to give his team-mate the option of the pass, as well as the goalkeeper having been told to play out from the back.

“I think ultimately goalkeepers play better than some outfield players would have done 20 years ago,” Neville told listeners to his podcast.

“The game has changed and it should change. We should welcome these changes.

“Gone are the days now where I sit on Monday Night Football and would criticise Xhaka. I would criticise him for the execution, but not for the principle.

“For me what we are seeing is that this is normality – that players are going to play out from their own box, but the execution was wrong.

“The idea that he was given a bad pass by his goalkeeper, I don’t go along with that. That pass was expected to be given, they’re coached to give that pass there. Xhaka just gets it wrong.”

Does one person deserve more slack for the goal than the others? Does the final buck land on the management?


Tags Gary Neville Granit Xhaka


  1. Whether told, coached or whatever you want to call it, surely players also have their own minds and know when it’s not safe to piss around in the box and make hospital ball type passes.
    If you saw yesterday’s Liverpool-Fulham game, Fulham’s keeper was in total control and at times telling the defenders to get out of the box and up the pitch, thereby beating Liverpool’s press. I don’t think we need to keep going over this though, with endless articles. Leno and Xhaka were equally culpable for what happened, but just learn from it and make better decisions in future, please!

  2. Let’s not flog a dead horse, I believe the multiple articles on this exact topic have done the job already.

  3. He was clear-open for that pass.The ball went direct to him without any threat from any opponent player.Xhaka was therefore 100% faulty for the goal.He should have given a pass back to Leno to clear.Something had been wrong with Xhaka.My Qn is..Who did not see Xhaka’s gesture for arm band ?.Shame on him. !!.

  4. I’m a big Xhaka fan, but I blame him for that goal. Do I think that kind of pass is characteristic of him? No. The idea, the concept, the intention was good. Matter of fact, if the pass he chose had have made it like is the norm, he’d have taken 3 burnley players out of position. The kind of football we play is high risk, high reward. He looks up, sees the pass,but I don’t know why he failed to play the pass. It honestly could happen to anyone. I concur with Neville, that kind of mistake is simply the result of football phylosophy but I don’t really think this kind of blame on skill is necessary.

    1. WHY are you a “big XHAKA fan? Are you his relative perhaps ! I can think of no sensible football related reason why anyone even COULD be a fan. Not a single reason, Joe!

  5. Good Day

    The way I understand this article, it is about who is to be blame for the error. I totally agree the coach and Leno have to share some blame, but the major error was made by Xhaka. He ran to the ball, wanted it, was to slow as usually, took the extra pass and made a pathetic pass. I think that was as clear as day light

    1. This was clearly Xhaka’s error. However, it is true that the team’s football ‘philosophy’ and Leno’s decision to pass to him were contributory factors.

  6. Xhaka is slow of body and slow of mind. He is not good enough to play for Arsenal irrespective of that mindless mistake.

  7. The proper discussion is NOT who was to blame for another Xhaka mistake now gone but WHEN and HOW SOON can we get this appalling excuse for a player out of our club!

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