Surprise Arsenal star labelled European finalist’s toughest opponent

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has been named by Samuel Chukwueze as his toughest opponent from this season’s Europa League campaign.

Mikel Arteta had opted to field the Swiss midfielder as a makeshift defender in the absence of Kieran Tierney this term, a move that sought plenty of critics.

Xhaka was also blamed as at fault for the opening goal to Villarreal in the opening leg of their semi-final clash, which lead to negative comments from a number of pundits including Martin Keown.

Keown claimed that Chukwueze left Xhaka ‘exposed’ in his column at the DailyMail, so imagine my shock when the Nigerian forward himself named Xhaka as his toughest opponent this season?

The winger was asked questions by UEFA(via AllNigeriaSoccer) in the run-up to tonight’s big final when he was asked his toughest opponent in the competition thus far, when he responded: “It was (Granit) Xhaka. He was man-to-man marking me. He didn’t give me space.

“He was just very close to me and I couldn’t move an inch”.

Samuel got to come up against Kieran Tierney in the second-leg thanks to an injury sustained in the warm-up, but it was the Swiss international who gained the plaudits from his opponent.

Was Xhaka’s use at left-back unfairly criticised?

Patrick

Tags Granit Xhaka Samuel Chukwueze

14 Comments

  1. Trudeau says:

    I might have to eat some humble pie as was very critical of the decision to play Xhaka at LB.

    When successive managers pick him, advanced stats rate him highly, and opposition players start name checking him as a fierce defender (which I still, perhaps stubbornly, struggle to see…) maybe I’m not the only one who needs a slice.

    1. MrLucky says:

      I’d probably need the whole cake. I still don’t see anything special in Xhaka, especially not as a LB

  2. Sue says:

    Come on Villarreal!!

    1. Stewart Macintosh says:

      agreed, am hoping for them as well. It would be nice to see MU lose a trophy “they don’t care about” – yah right…

      I have hated them since the days when we only got sporadic live coverage in North America and Premier League Classics included them blowing out a team six-nothing. How is that a classic?

  3. Stewart Macintosh says:

    There are a lot of haters for Granit and I think that blinds some – not suggesting that of you Trudeau – you can see it in game scores, analysis that shows if Granit had played a pass differently five minutes earlier all would have been okay, general commentary.

    He makes mistakes and he has the incredible lapses occasionally where he totally freaks out, to Arsenal’s detriment.

    I am not a fan boy but generally we play better when he is in the line-up.

    1. Stewart Macintosh says:

      I also think that he is an important part of the team and would accept a lesser role with grace – he would give us cover in a couple of positions, leadership and effort.

      I know a lot don’t agree and that is perfectly fine. It will always be the way that some players get more of a pass than others.

    2. Trudeau says:

      I totally agree with you SM. Not sure why but he’s one of my favourite players. Maybe because, like him, I was never particularly fast across the pitch and coaches seemed to favour me over players who clearly had more talent! I was also prone to drop the occassional f-bomb to my detriment…

      1. Stewart Macintosh says:

        and I think that he does what he is told tactically so some of the complaints land at Granit’s feet when they should be directed to the manager.

  4. BimmerBoy77 says:

    I didn’t have as much of a problem with him at LB I did have have a problem with moving him out of midfield, because he is to important to this team when he is in the middle. I would have used Saka at LB we know he can play there.

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

    This worrying trend regarding the uptick of Xhaka-based articles, with a positive spin, concerns me deeply…it makes me feel like this stumbling block, in the potential evolutionary process of this club, is actually going to remain on this team, as a starter, next season…if this is the case, it hardly matters who we bring into the mix, this team will continue to rollout a negative brand of football…for those who continue to salivate at the highly suspect analytics, which are heavily skewed due to the formational tactics being deployed by our current manager, please ask yourself this, besides Xhaka and Tierney, when healthy, who else has benefitted from Arteta’s tactics and who’s best qualities have been highlighted by this play out from the back, slow-moving, sideways thinking, no counter-attacking, possession-based borefest…can’t wait to see this list of none

  6. PIRES says:

    Xakha is underrated…he has a good left foot a good vision and he’s experienced at a relatively young age…..Wenger Hitzfeld Emery all admired him…So for all the FIFA managers: get a reality check

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

      you do understand that two of the managers, who you so eagerly referenced, were dismissed with Xhaka firmly placed within their respective starting 11…as such, history and logic would suggest that his immediate removal from the equation would be the best course of action for our current struggling manager and our team as a whole, especially if we want to navigate our way out of this multi-year funk…how’s that for a reality check brainiac

  7. Herb of the Earth says:

    Xhaka is a versatile bull dog that by nature is controversial. He is good to have on the team. If it gets physical, he will not wilt. He has a deadly left foot that can be used to manipulate space for runners; and can make a long range pass when teams are sitting too deep. But he is a liability in close games where the coaches set out to manipulate his poor reputation with the referees. He is not a great player, but I guarantee you that he is a whole insurance company. You might not want to try and go out there without him in troubled times. Few players at Arsenal have the kind of metal that he is made of. This is why we do better with him on the pitch than off. The only concern I have is that he has stopped scoring since Wenger left. MA seems to rely too much on his bulldog skills, though he is a more complete player than just act as the bouncer and soak up the blame and yellow cards. If MA plays more positive football Xhaka will play better.

  8. okello peter says:

    he is the best i really like Xhaka

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