Opinion – Xhaka should be nowhere near centre-back for Arsenal

Granit Xhaka as centre-back? You must be joking by Lagos Gooner

With Arsenal having defensive issues and short term solutions hard to come by, one won’t be surprised to hear funny transfer rumours. However, sometime last Friday, while reading sport news sites, I came across a written piece, reporting how Nigel Winterburn feels our defensive problems can be resolved using Xhaka as a center back. Seriously? Xhaka to play defence?

Nigel Winterburn feels Xhaka can slot in the defence and do a decent job, based on his performance against Chelsea last Tuesday. When asked by Gambling.com if he thought Arsenal will buy a defender he said: “You can never rule it out and I think it’s obvious that Arsenal do have a lot of problems particularly at centre-half,” said Winterburn.

“At the moment, everyone is trying to second-guess what Arsenal are going to do. Will they buy a centre-half? Will they go for a full-back? Or a holding midfield player?

“I’ve got to say, I thought Xhaka was outstanding when he went back to centre-half at Stamford Bridge, maybe there’s the option to play him there again and see how things go.” Winterburn concluded.

Well, everybody is entitled to his opinion but as a former footballer, I was expecting Winterburn to know how it can counter-productive to use players out of position. Why would he even suggest that the team uses Xhaka to play defense? That to me is one of the joke of the century. Oh boy!

Granit Xhaka should not even be playing defensive midfield, because he is always in a constant romance with fouls and yellow cards. A footballer who throws caution to the wind should not be seen near the penalty box of his team to avoid mistakes that would lead to goals. Pray tell me, is there any game we have played with Xhaka on the pitch that has not caused us the fans serious fears and worries, especially whenever he goes in for a challenge? Xhaka is a fantastic footballer that has an eye for a good, long pass but apart from that, what else does he offer from midfield?

Arsenal should do fast and get players that are needed and not think of using players out of their positions. Winterburn may just be talking out of genuine love and concern for Arsenal but suggesting the club makes use of Xhaka at the back does not go down well with me. Granit Xhaka has been playing well since the arrival of Arteta and he is starting to form a solid midfield partnership with Torreira. He should remain where he is, and Arsenal should go out there and get the players they want before the transfer window shuts. Enough said.

We are Arsenal and we are proud.

Sylvester Kwentua


  1. Shakir says:

    Agree,there were nervy moments when he was played at CB against chelsea,he was poor in executing the offside trap and in interceptions.Overall i think he did quite well though.

    His partnership with torreira is becoming solid so its better to keep him playing there…

  2. Sebby says:

    Xhaka is not a cb, no. But against Chelsea in my opinion he had a decent game. That was the first time he’s played cb of late and I feel that he can only improve more? If we went out and bought a cb for £30m (for example), who then played like that in their first game, we’d all be ecstatic. I do think we should be in the market for a cb, but I do think if we are ever in need Xhaka does a decent job at cb! As a footballer myself I’m also a cdm, however i occasionally play cb and change as a footballer when I’m in the defence (just as I feel Xhaka seemingly does). I’m more cautious in challenges and far more focussed on the defence aspect of my footballing game. To reiterate, I think we should definitely be in the market for a new cb, but I have absolutely no problem with Xhaka playing there in the meantime.

  3. Sean Williams says:

    Xhaka should be nowhere near Arsenal. He completely lacks mindfulness and is therefore mindless. His reaction too general play is poor because he does not ‘notice’ what is going on and reacts slowly within arising situations. With top players they are very present moment orientated and can react and partipate very quickly and tune in with their teamates. He slows the game down when it should speed up, because he is too slow. He can be thuggish. Not a good example.

    1. carl says:

      well the facts and stats prove Winterburn to be right !! And anyone that knows about football can clearly see that Xhaka plays better in defence than in Midfield and that is a fact !! Personally i think the guy is a liability any where on the park but his performances to date as center back have stood out every single time !!Nigel winterburn has played at the highest level and been one of the best full backs in the country for many a year he has had the pleasure to play alongside some if not the best center back pairings the country has ever seen and probably the best back four ever !! So i think he knows what he sees and is talking about !! For me i see the same every time Xhaka has been asked to fill in at center back he has had a brilliant game. His positioning whilst at Center back is bang on his headering is bang on even his tackling is bang on and his distribution for some reason get s better as he can use his left foot long passing to its full there.On paper Xhaka is a midfielder but really in reality he isn’t he hasnt the legs for it his positioning whilst in the center of the park is woeful and his passing more than often his way off.I would play him center back every game or on the bench.but you will disagree with me and Nigel … pmsl !! i have managed teams for many years now and i have seen all types of players and moved them around to get the best out of them. Players that have played under me have gone on to much bigger teams and getting paid well. Mentioning no names !!

      1. ozziegunner says:


      2. Sean Williams says:

        Hope you are right Carl. I prefer players who are sharp and on the ball. Maybe he can use his slight intimidating quality as a strength in CB land. I have an awful memory of Xhaka giving a reckless penalty away against Brighton last season, which cost us top four in the way of things, and maybe I’ll find it hard to forgive. I genuinely don’t think he is a top player and I would rather see him replaced with a brighter more alert player.

        1. aimon says:

          When aubameyang lost a last minute penalty at spurs you can’t remember that?.. You people just pick on players you don’t like…. Smh

          1. Sean Williams says:

            You don’t know what I remember. How can you? How stupid is what you just said? What has Aubamayang got to do with my comment? You seem over emotional and reactive. Follow the breath. Breathe

          2. ken1945 says:

            Sean, he does have a point though…if auba had scored, two more points for us and one less for them.

            It always seems to be the case that defensive mistakes are always remembered more than those made by attacking players don’t you think?

          3. Sean Williams says:

            If Aubameyang missed goals and penalties all the time I would not be short in coming forward. But, although there are some better, he is a pretty good player. Xhaka is not a good player, Mustafi is not a good player. Why would I chase Aubameyang when he was joint winner of the Golden Boot or whatever. Xhaka is the winner of the lack of concentration award. Constantly kicking and grabbing players like Xhaka does does not inspire me at all.

  4. stevo says:

    That was a one off. A worst case scenario.
    We now have Socritis Holding Luiz Mustafi
    and Pablo with Chambers Saliba and Mavro next season.
    It’s now all about which 3 do we let go.

  5. John0711 says:


  6. Eddie says:

    People okay with AMN playing RB even when sometimes in the past he has struggled there but cry fowl once an ex player suggest Xhaka be tried as a CB, even though every single time Xhaka has played CB, he’s been solid.
    SMH for y’all acute double standard fans

    1. Alee says:

      I hope when he plays a full 90 and gets exposed you lot will not ask for his head.

  7. Innit says:

    He passes well. That’s IT!

  8. Guru says:

    Not a bad shout tonplaybhim at cb I mean is he any worse than who we currently have? Also he has a great long pass which could be used from cb in luiz absence. And also it would mean a more creative attacking midfielder would start, not that xhaka has been so bad under arteta but he and torreria along side each other = very little forward/attacking movement from the base of midfield

  9. carl says:

    the thing about football is facts can be over looked and opinions are healthy for debate. Xhaka factually has played better at Center back than in the middle of the park. Every game he has ever played at center back he has played well and i mean really well. He foul rate falls and he seems to concentrates more there than in midfield. But as i said opinions are exactly that opinions !! but facts and stats are the truth !! Its like Laca the facts and stats prove he is the worst striker arsenal have ever had and personally i agree !! He for me is the reason why teams attack us all the time during the game and defences push on !! Simply because they know what is clear to see Laca is shocking has a touch of a rapist and couldnt hit a barn door at 2 yrds and doesnt strike fear into any player or team…. no goals in 8 games and only 3 away goals in 3 yrs !! says it all !! but all i hear is he is working hard !! well working hard isnt good enough !! Every one got on to bendtner but he never went 8 games without a goal or just 3 goals away in 3 yrs ??? and he worked his socks off week in week out !! just goes to show stats and facts get over looked and opinions and the liking of a player counts for more than the truth !!

  10. jon fox says:

    Well, Sylvester is right when he argues that Xhaka should be nowhere near CB for Arsenal. Nowwhere near, as in nowhere near the locality at all. Not within a proverbial million miles of our club. That is surely the REAL truth and what most matters. Sadly he is here, for the present but I long for the day he departs and when we can get some more mobility, speed -both of thought and movement- back in his position. I have never rated him at all, still don’t and whereever he plays he is still a liability. That is the elephant in the room in this false debate about “where is he most useful.” He is NOT useful, and merely being slightly less disastrous the other day than one of our other three catastrophic so called CB’s, does not alter that FACT!

    I detest false “truths” and false arguments and never overlook the plain truth, nor avoid stating it. Pity more don’t do likewise.

    1. Sean Williams says:

      Definitely making me smile Jon. I agree with you.

    2. ken1945 says:

      Jon, my wise old friend, what you never seem to grasp is the possibility that what you see as plain truths may actually be false truths..

      Remember the story about the “The Emperors New Clothes”? – or Ozil 100% leaving inJuly 2019? – could the albatross of Lemar signing be another burden for you to carry?

      I admire your sincerity Jon, but your singular attitude that whatever you believe is the only correct opinion does get irksome and everyone should/could/would learn something new every day if an open mind was used…and I agree that on a couple of subjects (AW and MO) I can be accused of calling the kettle black – but I do try hard not to be and have given negatives to both men- a pity more will not do likewise.

      1. jon fox says:

        Ken old chum, I do not even fully understand your mysterious post. LEMAR FOR INSTANCE? What has that got to do with my above post? Or my long ago statement that I THOUGHT, Ozil would be gone last summer. The club obviously wanted him gone but he ,in typiclly selfish style, put his greed for huge wages til 2021 before the clubs need to get his lazy arse out of our club. I realise you find it offensive that I call a spade a spade but that is how I am and I make NO apology for telling it as it is KEN. I have oft written that there are opinions AND there are also facts. But some folk Ken, mentioning no names, refuse to accept clear facts as such and consider them “opinions”. Well Ken, there are folk who still have the “opinion” that the earth is flat and that global warming is not happening. Would you call those opinions, or facts? Most folk and I certainly include myself, call such blantantly obvious things, including Ozils laziness, (but which did not appear in my post) FACTS!

        Lastly Ken, because I write clearly, unambiguously(by principled self choice) and never indulge myself in half truths, plain lies and obfuscation, GAZIDIS STYLE, some lesser thinking folk confuse straight talking- which I do – with a false arrogance that all my opinions are right and everyone elses who differs from me are wrong. That is plainly UNTRUE. I often state that I am unsure or welcome others diverse opinions. As you well know, I welcome diversity of opinion and of people – by definition, I would not otherwise be on this site at all, if you care to REALLY think about it, would I? – and utterly reject your plainly false charge that “whatever I think is correct”. If you really knew me as my family and close friends do, you would also laugh at that absurd charge. But of coure you do not and so you level nonsense at me, merely for being straight talking. I always seek the real truth and when I know it clearly I state it openly. Many enlightened thinkers would call that honesty. But sadly not you it appears, Ken!

        I repeat, there are many differing opinions, which I welcome and there are also plain facts, which not everyone recognises as such.

        1. ken1945 says:

          of course you don’t “understand” my mysterious post, because to do so would mean you were wrong in your 100% factual truths and would have to admit such.

          The Lemar example wa, of course, you telling one and all to forget the rumours as it will never happen – I, of course along with the “vast majority” are not privy to such information, but I wondered what your reaction would be if it did…as was the case with your announcement on this site that Ozil would be gone by July 2019 and was prepared to take a bet on this profound statement that any realistic gooner would not deny as being true.

          We all know what happened there Jon, you lost – as you did with UE being the answer to getting “our Arsenal back”…so calling a spade a spade sometimes backfires and other peoples opinions prove correct, even those from people you see as not being as intelligent as yourself.

          You see this as honest, straight forward talking – I see it as a dismissal of those who disagree with you, arrogance to the point of never admitting your wrong and when challenged, a determination to try and trash, not only the messenger, but his/her personal and valid views.

          I give you your views regarding Ozil – you say you deal in facts, so where is the proof that the club wanted him gone? On the official website? From the owners mouth? From the player himself? Any of the playing staff? What about the coach? The new regime then? Or was it from the media? Not one official post sent out by the club or its owner, but you say you deal in plain facts…so where are they?

          As far as I can see, MA has made it very clear that he sees salaries and contracts as no barrier, when deciding what team he selects, just valueing the individual player on his contribution to his vision.
          As far as I can see, kronkie is quite content with paying the exorbitant salaries that every single player at his club is getting.
          As far as I can see, MA is more than happy with every single players attitude, commitment and it is so obvious to see why, when attending and watching games since he took over.

          Your complete nonsense regarding ANY player being lazy, while being selected to play for a premier league club, is the pinnacle of your silliness in relation to any individual.
          If you REALLY think about it Jon, why would MA select a lazy player, why would his team mates accept a lazy player and why would fans (while singing said players name home and away) still cheer him on???

          I don’t find your views offensive, rather they are irksome, simply because if you thought a little deeper about why things are happening, your completely unnecessary character assassination of someone you have never met, wouldn’t happen.
          Let’s see what you come up with regarding those three questions in my last paragraph and I’m telling it as it is and not my opinion in that last paragraph.

  11. Mogunna says:

    Think he meant that Xhaka performed better than Luiz,Sokratis who are our official CB pair and better choice than ours third; Mustafi! Looking at Xhaka performance at Chelsea, he is completely accurate, and in credible position to say saw! It was obvious, we would most likely had conceid another with our crazy pair!

    Now, I disagree to play Mustafi, Sokra, Luiz or Xhaka before Mav & Holding, and I do believe from that Chelsea performance that Xhaka can be that holding midfield sitting in front of CB just as Luiz could for different reasons. Both can pass ball and go forward, push team to play higher, long range shots, have faculties to defend there and of course
    Xhaka can deliver set pieces Luiz is dangerous on.

    I won’t play them as CBs but in that position in order to allow rest of the team to play & run forward. Fullbacks playing higher, 2 other midfields able to focus on combining and feeding wingers & forwards!

    We do not have that top CB in our pair, therefore we simply need someone there. Not Torreira who is too small and light, he be flying around and on the floor all game long, quickly injured. Xhaka or Luiz, Niles may do fine as well, looking at his game and qualities, not seeing Gendouzi there neither.

    Pretty much, we have solution to do way better in that central defensive area by playing Mav-Holding and Xhaka infront of them, I’m sure this be efficient. Then coach has option to play Ceballos, Willock, Nelson I can see do well there as in Germany, no need to bring Lemar, let these young players step up as supposed to, stop waisting talent!

    Wenger said it, so called senior players can’t be assured to play with young talent around! I hope Arteta gets the message; play Mav,- Holding instead of LuizSokrastrophyl

    Not a fan of Mustafi but being a pure defender, who can run, with speed, hard on the man; I would play him as LB and not use up, waist Saka there! Saka is no defender, hope he doesn’t get injured forced to play there!

    All these obvious choices make Arteta more than questionable. I couldn’t believe how he has Sokra Luiz, with Torreira Xhaka defending all game long, over and over for same bad results!

    Tomorrow he shouldn’t get it wrong! We must not lose but progress to next stage. He must pick right team. Once someone sits in front of defense, it gives many option for foramtion.

    Bellerin – Mav – Holding – Mustafi
    Niles Willock

    Martineli Laca
    Nelson Martineli Saka

  12. Neil Fitt says:

    You need to understand that pro footballers do not come out of boxes from amazon with cm or cb or wb marked on their foreheads .
    Nigel winterburn is spot on and Rio Ferdinand and Martin Qiuone agreed that he displayed a natural disciplined performance against Chelsea. He is not as reckless as he used to be in tackle choice and this is down to Arteta .

  13. Rkw says:

    Should have jumped at the Berlin offer and had him out of the door weeks ago … An albatross round the neck of the club … The sooner he goes the better off we are … My question is whether Lemar could be the box box to box player we have been missing since santi … Very versatile player for sure and comfortable on ball but not sure whether he has the tenacity for that position …

  14. Stewart Macintosh says:

    Agreed, we have not found a new central defender. However, his stint in the middle tells me that we want to keep him because he can do a number of different things for the club and attitude seems to have changed for the better with Arteta.

    He did a good job filling in but that doesn’t make him a defender. He worked hard and he had his head in the game. His mistakes were the kind you would see from somebody playing out of position.

    If somebody offered a pile of cash for him would I take it? In a heartbeat. Are there better options to start, yes but we might not be able to get them or afford them. And is he good to have in the squad going forward, for me yes.

  15. Sean Williams says:

    You don’t know what I remember. How can you? How stupid is what you just said? What has Aubamayang got to do with my comment? You seem over emotional and reactive. Follow the breath. Breathe

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