Keown does not blame Xhaka for being ineffective at left back

Mikel Arteta has been criticised for starting Granit Xhaka as a left-back against Villarreal last night after the Swiss midfielder struggled in the game.

Xhaka has been used in that position by the Gunners recently as Kieran Tierney suffers from different injury problems.

The Swiss midfielder is naturally left-footed, but he lacks the pace to thrive in that position.

Arteta has used Cedric Soares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as a backup there before, but he seems to believe that Xhaka is a better fit compared to his other options.

Xhaka’s lack of pace makes it a baffling decision to play him there because he would likely come up in a one-on-one situation with tricky players.

That happened in the Villarreal game with Samuel Chukwueze attacking him for the host’s first goal.

Xhaka always had support from other teammates when he is being attacked, but it was clear to see that he was in the wrong position and Martin Keown says the blame should be on Arteta.

Keown said on BT Sport via HITC: “He’s pointing to Ceballos to get in front of him. It looks like the action of a player who is not comfortable in that position and the manager has put him there.

“So it’s about the decisions of the manager, it’s not Xhaka’s fault.

“I do believe he’s the most improved player we have. But to play him at left-back leaves him exposed for me.”

Tags Granit Xhaka Martin Keown

8 Comments

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  1. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

    Not only do I disagree with his misplaced hot-take regarding the whole “most improved” accolades, I likewise do blame Xhaka, in part, because there’s no doubt he was all part of the ultimate decision-making process when it came to playing him at LB

    as for my first comment, I refuse to give these types of kudos to anyone when the bar has been lowered so drastically….of course he improved, he was absolute dog sh** last year…furthermore, the whole negative tactics were set in motion to hide his, and other players, deficiencies to the direct detriment of our best players…who couldn’t look good in a double pivot role where all 11 players were required to play both sides of the ball and you passed sideways/backwards 85% of the time…for the love of God just sell him already so we don’t have to continue to discuss a player with such limited skills so fing often

    1. Declan says:

      It’s no wonder footballers are giving up social media for the abuse they get when so called fans like you describe one of our own as being dog sh** !

      1. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

        you really need to shake your head Declan if you believe my opinion of Xhaka’s performance last year is akin to the kind of social media abuse that most players are railing against…the real problem is people like you who inappropriately use the social media “card” when trying to exaggerate their point…feel free to use actual facts to dispel the notions I’ve put forth…I’m eagerly awaiting your incredibly cerebral response

        1. Declan says:

          You calling Xhaka what you called him might hurt him as much as a player who gets racially abused. People like you dole out your little nasty comments without thoughts of how it affects others. When Xhaka told fans who abuse him to feck off, it’s so called fans like yourself who jump up and down about it. The thing is you are better than that and obviously educated enough to use better words to describe him than the way you did. People will respect you for using ‘facts to dispel notions’ as you so eloquently put it, rather than cheap shot insults.

          1. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

            Thanks Mom…you do understand that I was speaking of his form last season and not about him, as a human being…how ironic that you would be the one suggesting that I should think before I speak/write, whereas it’s glaringly clear that you should have heeded your own advice…ultimately, it matters not, as it will never change the fact that he was dog sh** last season

  2. Trudeau says:

    Have to agree with Keown. This is on Arteta. I guess it’s a back-handed compliment to Xhaka in the sense that Arteta has enough confidence in him. And good on Xhaka for committing to the decision. True professional.

    It’s a real head scratcher from Arteta. Partey seems to play better when paired with Xhaka and I’ve no doubt that, sans Tierney, Saka is our best LB option. Yes we lose some from attack but we have plenty of cover.

  3. Reggie says:

    I dont blame xhaka for being ineffective at left back, he is ineffective in midfield. It wasn’t his fault he was ineffective at left back giving the ball away 16 times with poor passing, more than any other player. Its not his fault he keeps making glaring errors, its not his fault he is ponderous. Its the managers that keep playing him.

  4. Dan says:

    Some gooners are easy to read
    When we beat Sheffield United and Prague , I wrote that doesn’t prove he’s good enough at left back
    I was dismissed , called negative , etc
    We lose to Everton and Villarreal and guess what reaction. Is ?

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