Mustafi is nowhere near the first team and so a new scapegoat is needed

If there was one player last season that got the majority of all criticism it was Shkodran Mustafi and he has now become persona non grata in terms of first-team football.

Of course, his performances on the field of play contributed to his exile from the senior team but he never really stood a chance of rehabilitation once the fans got their teeth into him.

This season it appears that the one player now being scapegoated is Granit Xhaka, though I suspect that David Luiz will soon join him in the naughty corner.

But I do wonder if there is always going to have to be a scapegoat no matter how the team performs.

I have heard Liverpool fans slam Jordan Henderson, Man City fans go after John Stones, Chelsea supporters attack Jorghino, Tottenham fans ruthlessly criticised Kieran Trippier last season and basically Man United fans have turned on almost every one of their players.

So it is not just Arsenal, it goes on at every club but I just get the feeling that it is more prevalent with us Gooners than at most other top clubs.

Anyone reading the comments on here will clearly see the vitriol being aimed at Xhaka and I don’t believe it will stop until he leaves the club, no matter how well he does in the future.

Once that happens I reckon another player will fill his role of being the scapegoat.

Is it me or is it in the DNA of Arsenal fans to turn on that one player that, for whatever reason, is the one seen as the cause of the problem, whatever that problem may be?

Or is it the case that we have high standards and once we identify a player that does not meet those standards that we demand his removal from the first team on a permanent basis?

Because I do ask myself why Unai Emery cannot see what the majority of fans see, are we really that unreasonable?

Is it really the situation that now that Mustafi has been sidelined we must have a new scapegoat?

26 Comments

  1. Tommogun58 says:

    Itis not a case of choosing a scapegoat,Xhaka deserves the negativity surrounding him ,it is plain to see in every game he plays in that his performances are not good enough,they are always littered with mistakes and bad tackles in bad areas of the pitch,he is a seasoned pro and international footballer,captain of his club and country and should be delivering top performances instead of being outshone by the youngsters every week.

  2. McLovin says:

    Xhaka – 7 individual errors that lead Arsenal to concede

    More than ANY player in the league since 2016.

    What DOES he bring into the team?

    Goals? Quite rarely.
    Assists? Very rare.
    Tackles or interceptions? Rarely.
    Creates chances? Not at all.
    Fouls? Yes.
    Sideways passing? Yes, inherited this from Arteta.

    1. ThirdManJW says:

      Spot on. The amount of fouls by Xhaka against Spurs was ridiculous!

      Bizarre how Emery cannot see how bad he is?

  3. Innit says:

    Mustafi and Xhaka should be no where near the starting lineup

    Even Chambers should be considered before Xhaka in central midfield

  4. Goonster says:

    I think it is a culmination of different things that havr been building up since 2004 /2006 the last time we won or challenged for the Title or CL.
    Frustration after frustration. Embarrassing scorelines season after season 8-2, 5-1, 5-2, 6-3, 6-1, 10-2 on aggregate etc.
    The midfielders not dominating games, going into meltdown when presse a little by any team.
    The defence just conceding at the will of the opponent.

    Season after season of failure and repeated mistakes by Managers, The board and Players gets fans to the edge of maddness, hence why individual players are targeted time after time.

    1. Loose Cannon says:

      Goonster in my other post I mentioned that Wenger dismantled the Invinsibles and did not replace them like to like. The new players were young, Wenger preferred short skilled players over tall and sturdy players, mentally weak players (remember Gallas?), the downfall crept in slowly and culminated in unskilled, mentally weak hotheads like Xhaka, Socrates, Mustafi, Kolasinac on board.Would any sane manager of a top 4 club sign players like Asano, Sanogo and allow talent like Schnezy,Ismael Bennacir, Sergie Gnarby, Jeff Rene leave? Thankfully, we have Raul and Edu who are slowly but surely changing the system and clearing out the mess. Individual players get targeted as they are not AFC material, cannot meet our expectations, are under stress leading to fouls and goals. Would Kante do a rough tackle in the penalty box? Would Stones or VVD wrestle someone in the box? I would say it is not the players fault they are at AFC, the fault lies with the coach who agrees to have the players in his team and even worse the coach is not able to train the players to perform better. Remember you cannot take your road car to race in the Formula championships.

  5. Shinodakc says:

    I have no sympathy for Mustafi. Xhaka, Luiz and Sokratis should be next. These are experienced professionals who have cost us points. We can’t continue to accommodate them in our first team. It’s time for Xhaka to be dropped, he has had so many chances to improve but he’s still SHIT. 5 of the goals we have conceded so far are from stupid errors. No amount of tactics will work as long as we keep making such costly mistakes.

  6. Sean Williams says:

    Sorry this has nothing to do with scapegoating. Nothing at all. Xhaka has a character problem and an ability problem. People are noticing it quite naturally. It is a factual thing. He is slow both mentally and bodily. He is careless and gives away unnecessary fouls regularly. He often plays in a position that demands intelligent ball use and he hasn’t got it. It’s also a memory for me. Xhaka’s penalty against Brighton last season cost us the Champions League. If that was forgivable the penalty against Spurs was the most stupid, careless, thuggish tackle you will see. He costs us. He’s factually not good enough.

  7. ArseOverTit says:

    Just not good enough.

    All though I get the comparisons with a goat!;)

  8. Grandad says:

    Spot on Sean.A scapegoat is a person who is blamed for the faults of others, but in the case of Xhaka his weaknesses on the pitch are self created.

  9. Namo says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about the Xhaka situation. I was mad when he made that silly tackle on Son, during the NLD. Very silly stuff. I personally want him to be benched.
    However, I’ve been wondering, could it be that 4 professional coaches (Borussia M’gladbach, Swiss National Team, Monsieur Wenger and Unai Emery) are all dumb by always playing Xhaka in their team or there’s something these men see in him, that we the fans fail to see?
    Well, they are the Pros, we are “arm chair and keypad coaches”. Maybe we should relax a little and let them do their job.

  10. benex says:

    Emery should dish Xhaka, he has done no good to the team, Master of sideways passes, senseless tackles, don’t wanna see him near the line up.
    Emery should give Chambers chance over either Luis or Sokratis, one of them should be on the bench.

  11. NY_Gunner says:

    What most of the so called fans continue to be oblivious of in their denigration of these players is, those very same players functioned very well in teams with well organised midfields as well as defensive lines. Arsenal has had neither for sometime now. Food for thought armchair coaches…

    1. Welbeck says:

      That’s a good counter argument to all of us armchair critics. There must be something about these players that the coaches continue to play them.

  12. A J says:

    Usually there are two sides to every story.

    Unfounded “Scapegoating” whereby it is completely unjust for supporters, media and the like to go after a player who is clearly up to the job he is being asked to do for his side but may be going through a bad patch, temporary lack of confidence, needs time to reach peak form after injury etc, etc. In other words you KNOW the player has the required quality.

    The above scenario requires patience from manager and supporters alike – quite rightly.

    Here’s the “but”.

    When a player is CONSISTENLY average or under par, CONSISTENLTY makes costly errors (this backed up by fact) and CONSISTENTLY performs in a manner which does not appear to many (it seems) to be of the required level then I’m afraid it is inevitable that the criticism and negative opinions will follow.

    With Granit I would hope those, including myself, now questioning his value to the side have in fact BEEN patient.

    Three years and counting. My patience is now beginning to wane, and I have to admit the Squits “lunge” was the straw that broke the camels back.

    It happens yes. But being often prone to poor decision making can become very costly – every point counts as we can see after last years abject run in.

    I have honest doubts whether Unai Emery would have retained Granit (along with at least 2 or 3 others still at the club) if given completely free reign in the window just past.

    But given the make up of the current squad, he had to stay.

    After all, we are talking about a player here who (if true) Wenger told not to tackle (PARTICULARLY IN THE BOX) because he couldn’t !!!! (yes, tackle that is).

    Xhaka plays in a crowded fast paced (well it should be) area of the park. Mistakes can often be “glossed over” and recovered.

    I can only imagine the unmerciful stick Mustafi would get if making a trade mark Granit error at the exposed position of centre back.

    Don’t get me wrong, is Mustafi good enough for AFC … no, which seems to be widely accepted.

    But are Granit Xhaka’s constant errors not as costly, but often made higher up the park.

    Unai could drop Mustafi (in fact probably tried to sell) as we now have cover at C/B.

    But with our youthful midfield, I’m convinced Xhaka is there as our “experienced” option (becoming increasingly misplaced trust I believe).

    What is Xhaka ?

    Strong physical ball winning DM ? (no).

    Ahead of a deep lying DM deployed to take us up the park, feeding in both long and short balls (no).

    Fact is we now have better options.

    Three years in , and I beg the question – what is Granit Xhaka ?

    What Granit can do is send a beautiful 30 yard diagonals. Lovely to see, but is that all ?

    I suspect Unai may be playing Xhaka week in week out as he is at the moment our main source of experience in the middle of the park.

    But is that “experience” used wisely ?

    Anyway enough, I fell pretty bad getting stuck into one player, when we have a number of weak areas in the side.

    Believe it or not I would love to rate this player, but I just don’t believe he’s good enough to play for Arsenal Football Club.

    But hey, just responding to the thread with my opinion.

    We are one of the most opinionated fan bases on the planet, and of course this can sometimes be counterproductive.

    However, I am sure in most cases this is born out of a true passion for our great club – The Arsenal.

    It’s all about opinion with criticism being measured, constructive and heartfelt.

    Given the line directly above, apologies for being so negative about one particular player.

    But for the good of the badge and all that.

    1. Viju Jacob says:

      Well said.

    2. Sean Williams says:

      A J

      Extremely well articulated. Agree.

    3. NY_Gunner says:

      @AJ
      Now, so after writing all of that, tell when was the last time AFC had a well organised, consistent midfield and defensive line. Yeah, we’ve defended well some matches, but haven’t consistently for a while. That being said, we without the defensive structure or tactics, and cohesion in place, errors are going to be made, as we’ve seen many a time. And in that,somebody has to take the blame. Neither AW or Emery has set up our defence to be as equally potent as our attack…

      1. A J says:

        Hi NY_Gunner.

        I completely get your point.

        However, I don’t believe Xhaka’s overall ability should be pitched what he’s got behind / around him.

        How does not having ” a well organised, consistent midfield and defensive line ” equate to the “Brighton trip” or the “Tottenham Lunge” to name but 2. How are they tactical or other player related ?

        The lapse leading to Wolves going ahead at our place last year….tactical ? It happens too frequently.

        Of course I agree with you points re’ our defence, and (sometimes) midfield set up – but if it becomes evident that a player is simply not up to it you can’t point the finger at everyone else.

        Was Stepanovs really Van Dyke, Park Chu-Young actually Messi but they had nothing around them ?

        I’m sure you’ve watched Xhaka for Switzerland ….. average.

        He has different players around him there.

        My personal view is Granit Xhaka is not good enough to play for Arsenal Football club, along with others but I am just staying on thread.

        In fact his shortcomings would be exposed even more (class gap) playing in front of ;

        Wilson, Rice, McLintock, Simpson, McNab

        Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Keown, Winterburn

        Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole

        My point being a class side around Granit would leave him completely floundering.

        Don’t get me wrong, I wish he would come good, but three years now ?

        It seems we agree to differ.

  13. Le Coq Monster says:

    No different from real life, we always want to blame or moan about someone or something………………we are all bitches at heart !……………..if only my wife knew what I said about her behind her back ! hahaha

  14. Xhaka, like Mustafi, is not completely useless. He produces worldclass long passes and some venomous shots (De Hea will agree!). The problem comes when you analyse the cost-benefit of having him play. He will almost certainly at some point in the game make a catastrophic error that will cost us points. Mustafi had excellent stats and was very good at interceptions and headers, but it is the catastrophic errors he guaranteed that saw him lose his place in the team. Like Ken1945 always says, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander! Let Xhaka face the same consequences Mustafi did! In fact, dare I say, Xhaka makes more blunders than Mustafi.

    If Emery refuses to bench Xhaka then we will know for sure, just like the French tw*t who buggered off, he too has and plays favourites.

  15. dudu says:

    Xhaka a player who can’t bring up his face to make a simple pass always carrying his face down to make wrong passes and wrong tackles…..thank God he is our captain because these days anyone who is giving captain arm band is leaving next season..

  16. Agu Emen says:

    Scapegoating happens at every football club.
    Football in the late 19th century was a temporary escape
    from the horrible living conditions of the working classes.
    Millions of football fans are still nobodies at the bottom
    of societies pyramid and the football club gives millions
    a feeling of belonging in an otherwise merciless world.
    Hating on opponents is mandatory for club membership.
    All Arsenal fans for example are required to hate Spurs
    and all Spurs fans are required to hate Arsenal.
    Hating ones own players may seem strange but it’s because
    pro players have escaped the hell the majority can not.
    Hopefully the 100k p/w players receive is decent solace.

  17. Viju Jacob says:

    When a player commits an error, like Xhaka did on Sunday, and gets slated for it, that doesn’t construe as scapegoating. While I do NOT AGREE with the name calling that goes with the critiques, constructive criticism means pointing out the mistakes. I also abhor the booing of our own boys, as much as people abusing Wenger much after he is long gone with all that he did for the club.
    I criticise Emery all the time, from the 6th game of last season, but I would never call him names nor will hold up a banner against him. Having said that, after last Sunday I’ll be happy to see him go and that isn’t scapegoating.

  18. lion says:

    The man created a stupid penalty. He surely doesn’t deserve praise for that.

  19. Viju Jacob says:

    From Talk Sport:

    Bernd Leno is the Premier League’s most error prone player since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, when it comes to his mistakes costing his team a goal.

    Whenever a goalkeeper makes a mistake it’s far more noticeable than when a midfielder or a striker makes one, that’s because it inevitably leads to a goal. So it’s not surprise that the list of players whose mistakes have led to goals in the Premier League since the start of last season is littered with goalkeepers and, unfortunately for Arsenal, Bernd Leno tops the lot, according to talkSPORT.

    1. Bernd Leno, Arsenal – 6 errors leading to goals.
    2. Asmir Begovic, Bournemouth – 5.
    3. Jordan Pickford, Everton – 4.
    4. David de Gea, Manchester United – 4
    5. Sol Bamba, Cardiff City – 3.
    6. Angus Gunn, Southampton – 3.
    7. Sergio Rico, Fulham – 3.
    8. Alisson Becker, Liverpool – 3.
    9. Martin Dubravka, Newcastle United-3

    Leno’s problems with errors leading to goals shines a light on an overall issue for the Gunners with Unai Emery’s side also topping the charts when it comes to clubs as a whole.

    Arsenal players have made errors that led directly to goals 13 times between them since the start of last season, with Fulham making 12 last season to stay second in the table.

    If most people are surprised not to see Granit Xhaka in the list, after his latest blunder led to a penalty on Sunday in the north London derby, then have no fear. The Swiss midfielder has made 7 errors himself leading to goals since he joined the Gunners at the start of the 2016/17 season.

    Emery’s side have a battle on their hands to get back into the top four at the end of the season and qualify for the Champions League and they aren’t helping themselves with so many errors.

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