The positives and negatives from Arsenal’s painful defeat with City (Opinion)

Arsenal put in a superb display of confidence, guile and togetherness, but silly mistakes ultimately cost us against Manchester City. Guest post by Sarah Rohan

First off, Happy New Year to you all. If anyone from the Arsenal team needed a New Years resolution it’s Xhaka! To not make silly mistakes that put our team at risk, again! Why does he keep doing this to us?

We owned the game yesterday. I couldn’t have been any prouder at how the team performed in the first half. Everybody performed their duties, even the liability that is the Swiss star was doing well. Partey bossing it alongside him in midfield may have been keeping him on the straight and narrow until he got caught. They had a strong partnership but is that because Thomas was so good? Was he papering over Xhaka’s weaknesses? What a loss he will be over the coming weeks. On his 40th appearance for us in the Premier League, he showed us why he was such a wanted man.

Our defenders performed excellent once again. Tierney constantly running and creating an assist for Saka’s goal. White was calm and collected. Tomiyasu had a top game as usual and didn’t let Sterling get into the game much. Our only real threat was from De Bruyne’s through balls which nearly caught us out a few times.

Even the usually reliable Gabriel was stopping the Manchester City attack, until more moments of stupidity cost us. We can’t keep losing our heads in these games. If we still had eleven men on the field yesterday, without a doubt, we would’ve walked away with all three points. Even down to ten men we stayed strong and just have to consider ourselves unlucky in injury time. Ref and VAR decisions didn’t help us either…

So back to our main problem the weakest link in our team. What exactly can be done about Granit Xhaka?
I must admit I was a fan of the Swiss midfielder, whilst he is like marmite, some like him and some don’t. He can be a creative part of our team and he can have good games. Unfortunately we just cannot risk him anymore. Time and time again, it comes down to him that changes our game. He cannot defend. He must know himself by now that when he does those challenges, he will come under bigger scrutiny because it is him?

But will Arteta get rid of him? I cant see it. I don’t know what he has to do for our manager to sell him or make him a bit part player. I also cannot see him ever changing. He will always have the recklessness in his play that will weaken the team and cost us games. So sorry Granit. I don’t like Marmite anymore.

I cannot be upset in our performance yesterday in anyway however. Frustrated yes, but no way upset. I now believe we have what it takes to start competing again, to get into the top four.

Our team was exciting to watch and they’ve given me optimism about our future.

Roll on our cup game in the week against the Reds.

Keep the faith Gooners!

Watch Albert Stuivenberg’s FULL Press conference here….

Tags Man City


  1. Officiating wasn’t in our favor, even the ref’s run that impeded Martinelli was ridiculous.

    Make no mistake though, we self-destructed in yesterday’s match, plain and simple.

    They had entire City team in their pocket 1st half. Doubt me? City had no shots on goal in the 1st half. Even to start the 2nd half I didn’t see much traction from them early on.

    Then a mental slippage and the cracks began to appear.
    1. Why scuff the penalty spot, and then Gabriel engages ref which was unnecessary.
    2. On a yellow and gets played by Jesus when he’s a known diver.
    3. Xhaka gets caught in a situation again and was never getting the benefit of the doubt, even against a diver.

    This game management was a problem and that’s what cost us 3 points more than Officiating.

    Players should be furious by those actions, they ruined a dominant performance over City.

    They have the deepest bench in the league, I don’t buy the “tired” excuse. Pep struggled tactically to match our intensity, press, and passing.

    We were unlocking them repeatedly, Partey was DOMINANT in the midfield, and Tomi had Sterling in his pocket all game.

    We had the ingredients for 3 points, but brain farts cost us the game. It wasn’t “youth” or “inexperience ” to blame, it was bad game management. Stupidity at it’s worst.

    Gabriel had no reason to scuff the spot, and Xhaka ALWAYS choosing physicality to deal with situations. Sure Silva dived, absolutely, but why grab his shirt to start with?

    Brain farts cost us points, not a shit game from a ref, or VAR controversy. We had control but gave it away, simple as that.

  2. Xhaka’s passes from the left deep midfield area allowed Magalhaes to stay behind as the left CB. I bet he organizes his teammates as well, because they look more disciplined positionally when he plays

    If Xhaka doesn’t play, Magalhaes has to move forward frequently to feed our attacking LB. This is similar to Chiellini’s playing style for Italy in Euro, because Italy played with three right-footed central midfielders

    Unfortunately, Xhaka has made too many mistakes, so it’s going to be difficult to trust him again. I think Arsenal were looking for a better midfield leader in the summer, but unable to find an affordable one

    1. Unfortunately I think Arteta trusts Xhaka. Convinced him to stay when he took over, and didn’t sell to Roma, even though it was a cheeky bid. I think he would have stayed even if they bid 20 million.

      Xhaka immediately returns to lineup after an injury, and never gets dropped by Arteta. Regardless of opponent, Xhaka is in the lineup.

      1. As long as the better midfield leader isn’t available in the market, I believe Arteta will keep Xhaka till the summer

        It would likely be a different story after this season ends, because Xhaka has made two fatal mistakes in the first half of the season

      2. Not sure that will wash this time, Arteta watching from home might realise that he ain’t worth the risk anymore. And we know he will drop anybody from the squad. There was lots of comments about Auba constantly playing regardless of form, saying”Auba a favourite, he will never be dropped” BOOM !! no more Auba for a while anyway. Watch out Xhaka!!!

        1. Auba was only dropped due to external disciplinary reasons otherwise if he had returned on time he’d still be starting.

          You are making a good case against your own point.

          1. But he still dropped he’s favourite player, but he didn’t have to. Which should apply to Xhaka.

      3. After watching the City game, the intensity of the way we played, I felt Albert Stuivenberg is way better than Mikel Arteta. Pair Albert with Freddie Lumberg and we can have a winning combination with exciting football.

  3. Xhaka expressed a desire to finish career at Gladbach, why not tempt them with a swap for Zakaria? Maybe some cash to sweeten the pot?

    It’s clear Xhaka isn’t a midfield solution for our future. Perhaps missing the same to Roma opened the way for this swap?

    1. I don’t know what xhaka does. But if you do watch game whenever he plays our midfield looks stronger and when he’s not there our midfield looks somehow weak and we are mostly dominated in the middle

  4. Interesting thoughts DaJuhi – firstly that phrase may be inappropriate – uttered by Alan Hansen about Man Utd’s “Class of 92” when introduced wholesale by Ferguson in 1995. Those kids won the EPL the next season, and the phrase is now used to demonstrate how wrong a football pundit can be.
    Agree your other points though – Zakaria is a much better player than many give him credit for – way ahead of and more forward looking than Elneny.
    I don’t believe the De Jong rumour though, and Tielemans whilst excellent would knowing Leicester be overpriced.

    1. Yes, but lets not forget that title winning team full of kids was 30 years ago, and has happened only that once..

      Its funny how we went from retirement home to nursery inside 2 years!

  5. No team on the planet was willing to pay a mediocre fee for Xhaka….so what does MA do? Gives him an extension and a raise. Absolute madness!

    Whether you like Xhaka or not is irrelevant…what is relevant is that while he’s at the club MA will start him meaning we can never upgrade our midfield until either Xhaka or MA are gone.

    This is a huge problem that Xhaka fans are blind to. MA refuses to use Xhaka as a squad player so no decent midfielder will ever join us because while file Partey will be partnered with Xhaka.

  6. I wish Arteta will loss faith in xhaka same way he lost faith in his ineffective darling captain. Arsenal has been scoring in every games since Arteta dropped auba.

    Xhaka’s Cup will full also…

  7. There comes a point where we have to learn not only to leave Granit alone but also learn to appreciate the hard work he is doing.

      1. Where is the credit when he has good games?

        When we lose it is Granit Xhaka when we win it is Bukayo Saka.

    1. Yes I agree with you. Xhaka must surely have some football skills and leadership capacity that made all Arsenal past coaches to always play him. Jose M will not ask for him if he wasn’t good. All players have their weak point even Chelsea Joghinho of Christiano R

      1. Good work means absolutely nothing if you cost games all by yourself:

        – 4 red cards
        – 10 errors directly leading to concede

        Xhaka is DIRECTLY and SOLELY at fault for us losing/drawing 4-6 games in the past 5.5 seasons. In addition we have his mistakes that we managed to overcome.

        Now onto positives which usually contributes to winning games:
        – 2 goals in the past 2.5 seasons for a midfielder
        – last MOTM award 3 years ago

        And if you go back in posts, there is a lot of credit for Xhaka when he has played well. However the point is:

        He is easily replaceable. When he plays well, its not special, never spectacular. Its something how you expect someone to play when he is guaranteed to start. When he plays bad, he solely costs us points.

        Remember Karius? He had some great saves but he also solely cost matches for Liverpool. When Klopp replaced him with an established goalkeeper, they got so much stronger.

        Unreliable. Thats the word for Xhaka.

    2. Highbury Hero, you and I we’ve had a lot of disagreement over the manager’s situation for a couple of months, but I can’t help but agree about Xhaka.
      I think Arteta knows his weaknesses and that he loses concentration sometimes, I know this too, but it’s actually the good he brings to the team that makes him valuable to the team.
      Until we get someone better, we won’t have someone better than him and we have no choice than to keep using him.
      He’s not a kid, at this point he should know when not to be stupid.
      I do see his contributions and you hat he brings to the team as a DLP.
      Unlike people who choose to pretend there’s no good about him.
      He does his job perfectly, he’s basically the carbon copy of Jorginho.
      They do their job perfectly, keep theplay going and manage the tempo.
      The only thing Jorginho does is he’s the penalty taker of Chelsea so he has more goals to his game.
      Until we get a better player, Xhaka will always be here.
      I’ve learnt to be appreciative of players over the last couple of seasons especially after Giroud left.
      Until we get better players, their efforts will always be appreciated

      1. Eddie I am glad you posted because you always put it better than I can as you just did.

        I believe there will always be disagreements in these online discussions and sometimes with unpleasant language too. Since most of us don’t know each other it is fair to say it is nothing personal but just an online thing.

        1. be careful what you wish for HH, as having Eddie’s backing doesn’t add any credibility whatsoever to your already weak argument…you’re talking about a player who offered up more in 20 minutes of a Euro affair than he has in the last half decade here…all he’s done is enabled our inexperienced manager to lean into his particular brand of scared/negative football, minus on a handful of occasions

          1. I thought there was a probability I would see his views on this subject even before I commented so was a bit disappointed he hadn’t posted yet.

            Like I said he always put it better than I can in these kind of subjects. Please read his post again. It is more than just performance, that is the point.

            1. no one, or at least very few, have ever suggested that Xhaka can’t play this game…this is a far more nuanced discussion, not just a referendum on the justifiability of his presence on this or any other pitch…this has to do with an individual player’s strengths versus applicability of said strengths in a particular League or whether the player in question helps to facilitate or inhibit the progression of a team, especially if the tactics being deployed by any given manager are primarily chosen in the best interests of said player and not what would be best for the team as a whole and/or if it’s even wise to have someone who’s had a myriad of on-field disciplinary issues, then threw the armband to the ground then flipped off the fanbase, which I just have to think would have been the proverbial straw for most if not all former players, and who acted in such a disgracefully thirsty manner during the Euros in an attempt to force his way out of here, as the person mentoring an exceptionally young and impressionable squad etc…

        2. HH, I do realize we’ve gotten a few heated moments between us in the past, and yes there will always be arguments and disagreements.
          I hope to have less arguments this year with everyone and just let things flow peacefully.
          That’s one of the things I’m trying to do this year.
          Anything or discussion that’ll give me a headache, I just read Real Viera Lynn’s comment and I just scoffed.
          I’m not giving my attention to whatever he’s saying, I’ll be avoiding it.
          I hope you do too and I hope you have a great year and we all see our belov d club at the top where we want it.
          Regarding Xhaka costing us games, I can list individual moments that made us lose three points in the last couple of years, but everyone is obsessed with Xhaka’s errors alone

      2. Eddie, with no offences to your opinion, Leno is a semi decent keeper but is benched for the better Ramsdale. Tavares has kept out Kolasinac. Tomiyasu has replaced Bellerin/Cedric/Chambers. Pepe is benched for the better Bukayo. Martenelli is on the pitch for PEA. Odegard / ESR benched Ozil last season(for what ever reasons). Unless you do not plan to bench an average player, you cannot hire or play someone better. I know that Sambi would be too raw for the City game and AMN is neither better, Mikel should have hired an EPL proven CDM last summer. Will he hire someone this month? We will get better players only if the manager feels he needs a better player or an upgrade. I am an ardent fan of Mikel but he got this one wrong on Xhaka. We lost 3 or 2 points yesterday due to Xhaka. Being a senior, he could have controlled Gabby. Concedeing a goal from open play rather than a penalty, we could have fought back and won or drawn or lost. Xhaka was the culprit that day.

        1. Loose Cannon I do see your points but Xhaka isn’t the reason we dropped points yesterday except everyone wants to be biased.
          I’m not defending his stupidity, but he clearly wasn’t the reason we lost.
          We all know the reason we lost the game.
          Like I said to HH, there are lots of moments our players failed us.
          Auba’s penalty miss against Spurs last season and we ended up drawing the game, it doesn’t count as a moment of letdown? I could list more for you, but since Xhaka is the easiest culprit who doesn’t make it easier for himself too, we tend to blame him for everything.

        2. I think Arteta is well aware of Xhaka’s strengths and weaknesses. One of the things Arteta did quite early on was to set up the team and organize play so that his weaknesses were less exposed. At the moment none of the other MF have convinced that they are better than Xhaka in Arteta’s system which is why he is in the team.
          Whilst it is a valid point that Arsenal need a replacement it is essential to consider the context. Arsenal have spent a lot of money on new players recently and an experienced replacement will not come cheap. Do we know if Arsenal could have afforded the transfers made if they were to also bring in another midfielder?
          It has been argued that Arsenal overpaid for BW but it was important to strengthen this area as Holding would have been the only recognized senior player who could play the same position. Also, whether Holding is good enough is debatable.
          Further to all this is just how many new players can you bring in that will integrate well with the existing squad? The manager needs to carefully consider this (and other factors such as attitude etc.)in order to build an effective team. It is not just about the assembly of a large squad of talented players.

          1. But isn’t that the whole problem? Why is Xhaka still here? There is no excuse for Edu and Arteta’s lazy handling of the last window when much better players were ignored.

      3. The very simple truth is that any team in top flight european football could have picked him up for 20m last summer and all he had was one maverick suitor … I do not have enough medical knowledge to say why last 3 Arsenal managers could not see past his unreliable mediocrity other than to point out none were able to take us back to where we should be under their stewardship … the two certainly look like symptoms of a more serious medical condition

        1. Spot on Joe S. & RW1…no one is saying that Xhaka is the sole reason why we lost against City or that if we got rid of Xhaka that we would immediately jettison to the top of the League, we’re simply stated the obvious, that this individual should have been shipped out long before now and replaced by someone who could provide considerably more, without all the negative baggage that comes with this oft-times problematic player…Eddie, like others who have a tendency to blindly support, love propagating the notion that those whom legitimately critique Xhaka are hellbent on blaming him for anything and everything that goes wrong so that it appears as if we’re being completely unreasonable, whereas that’s simply not the case…fact remains, he’s far more of a hindrance than a positive contributing force in our quest to turn the proverbial corner…Cheers

  8. You made it seems like Chaka is the only reason why we lost? What if Gabriel who got himself sent off stupidly.
    Even at 1-1 we could have at least got the draw with 11 men

    1. The point that is flying straight over your head is that Xhaka is a senior player and does this often.

      Gabriel was equally stupid but is young especially for a CB and is usually very reliable, he’ll learn and improve….Xhakahas proven he’ll never learn or improve.

      1. Think of it this way, everyone is praising the performance of yesterday, so did Granit Xhaka had nothing to do with that performance? Didn’t he contribute anything to that performance?

        He gave a penalty okay (not the first Arsenal player to do that) but what about his performance for the whole 90 minutes?

      2. If we are talking about the game like the heading suggest, let’s talk about yesterday game, then later if we want to talk about Xhaka irrational behaviour let’s do that in another discussion.
        The pen happened and tbf it wasn’t too damaging to the game until the red card but because we like to bash Xhaka and feel Gabriel is a reliable person it’s fine we can put all the blames on Xhaka.
        Double standard at its peak

        1. Adajim I couldn’t have said it any better.. these lot would blame for having a smelling gut.. if only they could brush their teeth.. Xhaka is by far the stabilising factor in our game.. since his return we have looked like a proper team.. I know they have all been waiting to bash him with their ignorant opinions.

  9. I have been saying this to a friend for over a year now. Arsenal need to get Youri Teilemans. He is the central midfielder to finally relegate Xhaka to the bench and out of the club. This team lacks a true and outstanding central midfielder in the mode of Gundogan. A true ball progressor who can control a game and keep possession under pressure. We already have a world class DM in partey. Odegarrd and ESR are good AM and will keep improving. That CM is our biggest problem. Imagine a CM like Xavi in this Arsenal team? I said that just to show how important and influential the role of a quality CM can have on a team’s fortunes. If Arteta doesn’t solve it then it might be his biggest undoing as this team is almost complete.

  10. Ever since Xhaka set foot in Arsenal we have never played in CL.Even at our best chance to play in CL,when we needed win Xhaka did it against Brighton at 85th minute booom penalty.Unai Emery was denied CL football in his first season.

    The guy has improved recently to be honest but he is full of unimaginable errors but he will keep committing again and again and again.How on earth can arsenal be the first team to reach 100 red cards in EPL? How many has xhaka accumulated? Is pathetic how people still trust this guy.

    Arteta should think agin if he is serious about building a solid team.
    Bring in a serious midfield.

    1. “How on earth can arsenal be the first team to reach 100 red cards in EPL?”

      Does Granit have 100 red cards?

  11. After that penalty and a yellow card, xhaka was still trying so hard to get another card. He dragged another player down but the ref just overlooked it.

    He doesn’t have a football sense in my opinion. I was expecting him to go down with Silver when silver went down but he was just arrogant.
    He can’t be blamed though, he knows he will still keep his spot in the team regardless the errors he commit.

    1. My question is still the same. Did Arsenal have an outstanding performance? If yes did Granit Xhaka not contribute anything to that performance?

      1. Of course Xhaka was part of everything that was good in the first half. He broke up play and contributed to our attack (including the goal). It was 45 minutes that shows why Wenger, Emery and Arteta always select him if healthy.

        But the penalty shows why it is time to part ways at the end of the season. It pains me because I like Xhaka’s personality and commitment and think so much of the criticism is over the top (“damn useless idiot” is one that sticks out recently).

        Arsenal need someone more dynamic and less reckless and Xhaka needs to go to a league where he will get a fair shake in England (from supporters of referees).

        I’m confident Arteta and Edu will find the right replacement

      2. What stupid persistence. What’s your point. Xhaka will continue to do what he does best, which will be soon enough., unfortunately.

    1. SJ TRAGICALLY, THEY SEEM TO BE NUMBERED IN DECADES, NOT SECONDS , as they would be it I had my way!

  12. Xhaka is a player with basic abilities. He just lacks speed and flexibility. That exposes him in the premier league.

    Any of Zakaria, Guimaraes, or Bissouma would replace him well in that central midfield.



  13. A well prepared meal can be condemned by a little piece of dirt put in it.
    Xhaka had a good game then he destroyed his good game by holding the shirt of the opponent player for too long in the 18 yard box.
    His moment of madness caused the madness in the younger player Gabriel to show forth.
    For crying out loud, Xhaka is supposed to show good example as part of the older leaders in the squad.
    That is why I respect Lacazette a lot. He does not score goals much as a striker but he leads by example by the way he brings the people around him to play. That is a leader.

  14. Jon, I believe Arteta is not stupid to allow the good young team he is building to be shattered by Xhaka’s moments of madness.

    Come next season by September we might be seeing a new central midfielder join our club.

  15. Same narrative on Xhakka, giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Yeah it’s Xhaka that cost us the game, it was Xhakka that didn’t give arsenal the deserved penalty, it was Xhakka that got the red card, it was Xhakka that made the cheat from city to dive in the box, and it was Xhakka fault that VAR called a penalty that the referee had waved off, right. Has anyone actually thought that Xhakka’s tug at the players jersey was an instinctive attempt to keep his balance not to fall in the box because of the pace of the attacker? As we see in the video Silva was already on his was down.
    Xhakka had a very good game like every arsenal player, so no attempt should be made to make Xhakka a scapegoat, he only too one for the team. If the defender that was supposed to be on that side of the pitch was there, then Xhakka wouldn’t be the last man marking Silva in that position. He simple did what he had to do, I’m not sure if we actually expected him to allow Silva to just run pass him in the 18 yard box because he doesn’t want to be a scapegoat or being criticized. Big ups to Xhakka, he did what was possible to stop Silver, he shouldn’t be blamed for the referees biased officiating.

    1. Exactly

      fans dont watch games and they do not analyse

      they just find the player they do not like and blame it on him

  16. Any other thing than holding Silva’s shirt in the 18 yard would have been accepted.
    Initially, the referee didn’t want to give a penalty and even gestured to Silva to stand up and play on, until the useless VAR told him to watch it again to see the shirt pulling.
    Whether anyone likes it or not, that shirt pulling by Xhaka changed the game.

    No sane person can drink a fine wine that little drops urine has been poured inside.
    Xhaka peed a little on the fine bottle of wine he and his teammates made and the whole bottle of wine got contaminated.
    And this is not the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time he is costing the team. He may not continue to sin that grace might abound him. NO.

  17. So it’s all clear then – get rid of Xhaka and the world’s our oyster….. hang on though…. we must also get rid of Lacazette because he’s thirty… we must also get rid of Holding and Chambers for not being good enough… Aubemeyang and Guendouzi for disciplinary reasons… we must also buy another right back and replace all the above… meanwhike Xhaka is the reason for all our ills????

    1. I wouldn’t get rid of Guandiuzi, although he has already bolted, but the others you mentioned Ken, are easily disposable. Arsenal are after All aiming to clear the mess that Wegner left behind.

    2. KEN, NO FAN EVER SAID Xhaka was the”reason for all our ills! Except YOU, who falsely said it, albeit it ironically, in your inaccurate post above.

      I’d ask yourself WHY so many think Xhaka a disaster and consider what those many fans actually DO say and WHY, instead of, as ever, making false claims on others behalf, as I KNOW, FROM FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE OF YOU.

      1. of course, I was only joking, but I simply couldn’t resist responding to your myriad of not so slight exaggerations

  18. Zakaria is available for free in 4mths

    yet fans want the club to spend unnecessary money to sign him

  19. If I lost concentration like xhaka does it would immediately cost my company millions. I’d never get away with it as Xhaka does almost every other game.

  20. Xhaka’s ‘Self-Harm’ comes out as ‘Team-Harm. He needs a psychiatrist to find out why he sabotages our team, and why he loses us points, so regularly. He should really, like Aubameyang, be suspended immediately, as his points losing mindless actions have a major effect on the team. They are are ‘deliberate’ thuggish acts which sabotage everything we build (remember Xhaka Vs Brighton, under Emery, cost us 4th place and Champions League).

  21. The positives are a feel good factor which every Arsenal fan can carry into the next game, but it’s up to the manager and players to deliver beyond that. An unlucky defeat can easily lead into a bad run, which could define a season.

  22. “…. of Arsenals PAINFUL defeat with City…” Once again a false description as a headline! It was an unlucky , undeserved defeat. Even a plucky one but not PAINFUL, in the sense that “painful” is commonly used to mean a defeat by several goals, where we failed to turn up!

    That is plainly NOT the case this time and so it is NOT “a painful defeat”.

    I stress not PAINFUL in the sense of how that word is commonly used in football So please do not misrepresent with a false answer, what I was careful to accurately say and in full context.

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