Granit Xhaka proved last night he is totally committed to Arsenal now

Everyone was extremely surprised at the beginning of this season, when Unai Emery appointed Granit Xhaka as Arsenal captain, and even more surprised when we heard that all the players had voted for him.

The fans were never really convinced because they felt that the Swiss international was not influential enough on the pitch, and every mistake he’d ever made was brought out amid widespread criticism, so much so that Emery felt he had to come to his defence. “First, he is mature and he has experience and we are all living all the time under pressure, under criticism as coaches, as players, as a club,” Emery said. “The most important thing is to stand up in each moment, go ahead and [for him] to show his quality, with his behaviour, with his commitment and in the dressing room the players voted for him as the first.

Emery stood up for him then, but he didn’t defend his captain when the abuse got too much that he lashed out at the jeering Arsenal fans. He also stripped Xhaka of the captaincy, dropped him from the team and basically convinced him that he had to leave the club.

Luckily Arteta arrived just in time to persuade Xhaka not to join Hertha Berlin, and made it clear that he wanted Xhaka back as an integral part of the team. The Boss was repaid last night with an immense performance from Xhaka when he had to cover for the sent-off David Luiz as centre-back, and showed he was a true leader at the back.

Arteta gave him great praise after the match. “From day one, I spoke with him.” the Boss told Arsenal.com. “Obviously his mind was a little bit varied after a lot of things that happened to him in his life and his family. I tried to convince him that it was the right place for him to play. I wanted to try to give him the opportunity to try to enjoy playing football again.

“Everything I ask him to do, every training session, he’s like this and is willing to do it. Today, I knew the moment I put him there, I don’t know how well he was going to do but he was going to put everything in. He was great.”

He was better than great, but in a true captain’s manner he praised all his team-mates instead. “We showed big character,” Xhaka told the BBC. “A lot of people say we have no character in the team. We showed in this game we have.”

It was great to see the whole team come together and fight to make up for the loss of David Luiz, and even Mustafi didn’t drop his head after his ghastly mistake and played a blinder in the second half alongside Xhaka.

You can tell that Arteta admires him, and we can see the players respect him immensely.

Perhaps he will be made captain again one day?

21 Comments

  1. Oh boy, can someone hack and delete this Granit Xhaka picture from the JA database? Thank you in advance!

  2. arie82 says:

    Congrat arsenal 😃
    We have new cb finally👍

    1. Godswill says:

      I tell you, with that performance he’s better than Mustafi and Socratis.

  3. Matty says:

    Great article. A huge amount of Arsenal fans, myself included, wanted Xhaka out, presuming he had no love or commitment to our club. That’s us never seeing the bigger picture. It’s only one game but he was unquestionably a brilliant deputant for Luiz following his sending off. With Luiz now out for three games maybe it’s a position he can cover and we’ll see if it fits him better. How amazing to see our players battle and, dare I say at, the level of effort went up when Ozil went off..

    1. Sean says:

      I hate to say it as I’m his biggest fan but Mesut needs to go! Doesnt contribute anything these days and is only here for the remainder of his massive weekly paycheck which really annoys me as its money and fame over the football and Arsenal for him I’m afraid now.

    2. Godswill says:

      What if he doesn’t perform well next time? Won’t we say he’s not good even though that’s not his position? We’d forgotten that Saka is not a LB even as he’s standing in there.

    3. Segun Eris says:

      We must recall it is not his first time covering as CB for us. It was something he did under both Wenger and Emery (he did trip and concede a penalty in a game I cannot recall now, on one such occasion), acquitting himself well on all those occasions. I have nothing but respect for that man but can appreciate that most want to see only players who have leg speed and are error-free (good luck finding one of the latter). However, I know what support and understanding can do for a sportsman and choose to stay with the lads, until they leave the club we all support.

  4. Sean says:

    I agree he is committed and playing better under Mikel especially after last night but being captain again I dont think that should happen. Let him enjoy his football again before all the pressure of being a captain, you dont need the armband to be a leader.

    Great to see what Arteta has done already with Granit after all the problems. Can Mikel do the job we need and win the Europa League? If so and why not, then he will have Arsenal back in the UCL with a bigger budget and forget about the league table as it’s not going to help us this season unless we go on an amazing winning streak but it’s too early for something like that.

    Onwards and upwards gunners

  5. Xhaka played brilliantly yesterday and showed his true commitment to the Club. Often on this forum I have criticized him, but specially yesterday he proved me wrong. All the players played to their spirit yesterday and now we can focus on winning which our performance deserves over the last 3-4 matches. I only hope the Board supports Arteta if he wants to bring in a CB and a creative midfielder. In Arteta we trust.

  6. stevo says:

    Xhaka was stood down because he behaved unprofessionally when hassled by the crowd.
    Emery’s actions were totally correct.
    It was Xhaka who then proposed leaving… on his own.
    When Xhaka suggested leaving Emery said he would prefer Xhaka to stay and fight
    to win his place back but would understand if the player still decided to leave.
    Arteta gave “everyone” a clean slate when he came in and any way
    by then Xhaka had gotten over his hissy fit and was already back under Freddie.
    Arteta had nothing to do with Xhaka staying.
    Xhaka played 29 PL games last season the 3rd most by any player.
    Only Auba played more games for Arsenal than Xhaka last season.
    So Emery got the best out of Xaka last term.
    Interestingly Mustafi made 31 league starts second only to Auba.
    Torreira and Ozil also played a lot of games last season
    when we finished 2 points off third.
    So Emery had the team on a string in just one season.
    The management made some damn awful decisions over the summer
    including telling Emery that he would be sacked if he did not make top 4
    yet did not give him the resources to achieve the goal essentially condemning him to fail.
    With Arteta they have lowered the bar considerably and are promising
    to give him more time and resources they neVAR gave Emery.

    1. GB says:

      We are not out of the woods yet but Emery had us plummeting into oblivion. Do you think we would be battling under him the way we are under Arteta? No, of course not, he was a busted flush who lost the dressing room and any respect he had. The team respect Arteta and the whole group is closer together. At least everyone can understand what he is saying. Senior management as you say have made lots of mistakes but the realisation now is we need a complete rebuild and Arteta’s remit for this season is to avoid relegation, which under Emery, I believe would not have happened.

      1. stevo says:

        Under Emery we were a point off second after 8 games.
        Then the fans demand Emery play Ozil and that’s when things went down hill.
        Things have not improved under Arteta in fact they have gotten worse.
        When Emery was sacked we were in 6th place now under Arteta we are 10th
        and some deluded fans keep saying they can see the “improvement”
        Under Emery 6th place was considered a sackable offense.
        Under Arteta the bar has been lowered almost to the ground
        where 17th is now considered a brilliant season.

      2. SueP says:

        Hi GB
        Stevo is like an old record trotting out the same stuff time and again comparing Arteta and Emery
        Agu Emen used to contribute on here (silent lately) and spout the same thing
        I have decided to ignore both going forward as I’ve better things to do with my time

  7. gotanidea says:

    Xhaka is always included in by Wenger’s, Emery’s, Ljungberg’s and Arteta’s teams, because they know Xhaka is an invaluable asset as the left DM in their double-pivot formations. Unfortunately Wenger and Emery couldn’t utilize Xhaka properly

    Xhaka is not a technically gifted midfielder, but his aerial ability and his left leg make him suited to the left DM/ left CB positions in a double-pivot formation

    Nonetheless, if we play with a lone CDM like Man City and Liverpool, there are better lone CDMs than Xhaka

  8. Break-on-through says:

    Well done Arsenal you showed a lot of character, some of the younger players, special praise for them in showing great commitment in very trying circumstances. Some might have dropped their heads, some fans with thinking, oh here we go, ten men, we will get dismantled now. The players were having none of that, commendable performances from our guys, the team performance, showing some proper grit, determination and ruthlessness when needed, well done chaps.

  9. Samo says:

    that line “and even Mustafi didn’t drop his head after his ghastly mistake and played a blinder in the second half alongside Xhaka summed my comments. May be Mustafi too can turn around one day to be a good defender. But do we have time to wait for him. I don’t think so. But I dont like fans writing players off.

  10. antonioro says:

    I always said Martinelli is a reincarnation of Ronaldo(the Brazilian)-I perfectly remember the goal Ronaldo scored for Barcelona after running the entire pitch as a TGV train-Martinelli did the same….just like Ronaldo,the you lad is a player who can win a game by himself,out of nothing…

  11. Swut says:

    Very good article, Xhaka showed fantastic attitude and I was very impressed by his defending skills as a CB yesterday. I thought he was maybe too aggressive and mistimed tackles, but yesterday he showed perfect positioning and great aggressiveness. Xhaka is a top player and could also improve his skills closer to the opponent goals with assists and even goals. He still has great room to grow. Martinelli, since I first saw him play is a clear top level striker, the way her runs and his clinical finishing for his age, are magnificent to watch. Despite results and league position, so happy to see this team performing like this. Great move from the club in appointing Arteta, not forgetting that Emery did set some good foundations too

  12. Grandad says:

    Arteta may well be obliged to use Xhaka as a left sided CB and based on his second half performance last night it may be the making of him with Arsenal.I hope so.

  13. chukzenith says:

    Let’s not forget Torrera who took over the job in the midfield, before the substitution of Ozil for Gwen..
    These whole guys were great at all times in the game…
    From the keeper to the strikers

  14. Reggie says:

    He proved, he isn’t good enough for midfield, he proved he is a good stop gap player, he gave me reason for the first time ever that i have watched him play, to give him my MOM. Like i said with Ozil, one swallow….. i take a bit more convincing than last night but well done xhaka. I have not changed my mind, he is not good enough for Arsenal. I will need far more than what i saw last night, he was committed, that was great, a few others were as well but they have more talent to go with it. Im not a xhaka fan, so im not swayed but i enjoyed his commitment last night.

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