Love him or hate him, Alex McLeish insists Xhaka is a big injury loss for Arsenal

Alex McLeish insists Granit Xhaka will be a great loss to Arsenal as the Switzerland captain begins a spell on the sidelines.

The midfielder has become a mainstay in the Arsenal team since Mikel Arteta convinced him not to leave the club at the start of 2020.

Not every Arsenal fan still trusts him, especially because he is always prone to collecting a red card in a game, but he remains influential and pivotal in how Mikel Arteta sets up his team.

Former Scotland manager McLeish says he knew people wanted Xhaka out of the Arsenal team, but Arteta is convinced he needs him and has justified that.

His departure opens up a chance in the team for summer signing Albert Sambi Lokonga to play regularly, but McLeish maintains that Xhaka’s absence would be an enormous blow to Arteta’s plans.

He told Football Insider: “For a wee while there were people asking questions, should Arteta be playing Xhaka?

“That was because of his red cards, there was some poor decision making for such an experienced guy.

“But obviously Arteta kept faith in him and knew what he could bring in other parts of his game.

“Once or twice he possibly went through a wee bad spell and he’s come through for Arteta.

“That will be a huge blow for him. He has been through the bad times, people thought Xhaka would be leaving or dropped, he’s come through that.

“That tells you Arteta has executed a good strategy.”

The club’s fans will hope Sambi Lokonga will take his chance and ensure they don’t miss Xhaka while he is away.

Tags alex mcleish Granit Xhaka


  1. You can post another 100 articles praising him all you want, but it won’t change the fact we play better when he isn’t available and the sooner we foster a Partey partnership with either Lakonga, Oedegard, or AMN, the better.

    Can’t wait for these couple of week coming.

  2. Nah I’m supposed to believe Arsene Wenger and four other managers were stupid for trusting the player because a bunch of fans refuses to acknowledge his growth and improvement over the years

    1. Indeed, they were stupid to buy and play an accident waiting to happen players. Compare his best and worse moments for Arsenal and see!!!!!

        1. Reggie, you have nailed it! sometimes I wonder when some fans here say he has improved. What sort of improvement has he brought to the team?? I know if we loose or draw to Brighton this weekend, we’ll be hearing those news again that we play better when he’s available

  3. Once again it’s time to bring some much-needed common sense to the equation when it comes to discussing this somewhat controversial figure…I, of course, have been steadfast in my views regarding his incompatibility with both this particular League and as the primary pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which generally requires a counter-attacking component in order to be offensively successful team, except for those organizations with no budgetary constraints

    Now I’m not suggesting he’s devoid of skills, as his left foot clearly has the capacity to produce world-class moments, albeit rarely seen while wearing our particular kit, it’s the fact that he has the overwhelming tendency to slow down play, with sideways and backwards passes, to give up the ball too easily in dangerous positions on the pitch, to chose the more reckless option when it comes to defending, especially when facing anyone with even a modicum of pace, which has led to a plethora of yellow/red cards and the genuine disrespect he’s shown towards the badge, whether it be with his one finger saluting or his openly flirtatious behaviour with Jose’s new club this past off-season

    as such, I don’t care about those who postulate fairly empty arguments about how others before MA had similarly chosen this player on countless occasions, as most of these managers have faced the axe in some part due to his relative ineffectiveness in the middle of the pitch…now for the manager who’s still in our employ, albeit not without his obvious distractors for making decisions like starting Xhaka ad nauseum, his choice to stick with Granit has far more to do with his fear of losing than his desire to deploy the best possible side and/or tactics based on the personnel at his disposal…as we’ve witnessed, minus the rare anomalous encounter, like last weekend, his largely scared tactics generally guarantee only one thing and that’s not results, it’s tragically negative football

    as for Xhaka’s appearances with the national club, which continues to get bandied about whenever someone tries to defend this player, one must keep in mind the vast difference between League play, especially in the PL, and that of the international circuit…in most cases, a deeper-lying player, like Xhaka, faces considerably less pressure on the ball, which allows him ample time to pick out those longer passes, like we witnessed in one game during a 20 minute period at the Euros…ironically he wasn’t available for the following match due to a card-related suspension

    1. @TRVL On this occasion and regarding this player, I am in full agreement with you as you have eloquently put down my sentiments and that of many others who contribute on this site. It is a wonder how so many managers chose him over others.

    2. @TRVL
      Nice summary about the controversial player, no other explanation could be better. I believe the use of Xhaka agains the spuds is as a result of senior figure and more tackling and physical ability rather than technicality.
      Mikel knows that a Bissouma will fair better than a Xhaka , however, you can loose a Bissouma, Partey and Elneny a whole month for the African championship.
      So he decided to stick with what he had .
      Xhaka has proved to be an excellent attacking minded midfielder, rather than a deep pivot , which has made him to be very ineffective in an Arsenal Jersey but more with the Swiss.

  4. Mcleish is, of course, quite right. For all the criticism Xhaka is a senior player and important to how Arsenal approach games and achieve balance in the middle of the park.
    Until Arsenal get an upgrade or other midfielders can demonstrate consistent performances at a superior level Xhaka will remain essential to Arsenal’s progress in the near future.

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