Who should partner Granit Xhaka against Chelsea?

Which Arsenal Midfielder Should Granit Xhaka Replace? By Twig

Granit Xhaka has once again made a strong case for his inclusion into the Arsenal starting XI with yet another long-range screamer. Scoring goals might not be his primary responsibility, and was certainly not the reason why he was signed, but it’s always nice to have a midfielder who can score especially when your strikers are having an off-day. This Saturday we meet Chelsea, for the battle for fourth spot, and it is absolutely vital we get the starting XI right.

Against Watford, Xhaka was paired with Cazorla at the base of midfield, with Ozil up front, and that combination was widely agreed to have worked. However, for some reason, Xhaka got dropped in the subsequent games, with Coquelin taking his place. According to Wenger it was necessary to restore some stability back into the team by going with a midfield pairing that has been tried and tested, especially after our loss to Liverpool. And you can’t argue much with that as Coquelin has grown in strength, and has been one of our best players so far this season.

Indeed, from recent comments from Wenger, it will appear that Coquelin will be a permanent fixture on the Arsenal side as he hinted he sees Xhaka playing as a box to box midfielder (even though I don’t think many gooners will agree with that), meaning it’s Cazorla and not Coquelin that’s standing in his way. As far as interceptions are concerned, Coquelin has no equal in this Arsenal team, period. Recall it was Coquelin’s interception that paved the way for Walcott’s goal against Liverpool (not that it mattered in the end anyway!). On the other hand Cazorla has been having an impressive season so far. His importance to the team is further underlined by the fact that he is our most reliable penalty taker. As we trailed Southampton the other day, it was Cazorla’s influential display from midfield that set us up for a comeback win. Cazorla has also shown an increased willingness to go forward and join the attack unlike last season.

The odd one out is Ozil, who had thumping game against Watford, but has looked out of sorts ever since. Many will point to his impressive pass completion stats in our last game, but in reality, it was his second worst game of the season so far according to WhoScored ratings. I thought Ozil should have ideally played against Nottingham Forest yesterday to get him back into rhythm but it appeared Wenger had other plans. Could the prolonged contract talks perhaps be affecting his game? Against Chelsea, we are likely to be set against a staunch and physical midfield of Kante at the base, and Matic and Oscar (or maybe 2-goal Fabregas) up front. Even if Ozil were in form, I am not sure if this will be a game that will suit him. The other option will be to drop Walcott and play all of Cazorla, Ozil, Xhaka and Coquelin, but that will reduce our goal threat, and as we know, Walcott loves playing against Chelsea. In short, if we played Cazorla and Ozil in the same midfield, it will seem that we have already given up the midfield battle as both players are mainly creators with little grit to their game. That will be unfortunate given we now have the squad to stand up physically to any midfield in the league.

So how should Arsenal line up on Saturday? Should Wenger stick with the Cazorla-Coquelin-Ozil midfield or should he go with Cazorla-Coquelin-Xhaka? Has Xhaka done enough to merit a start? Let’s have your thoughts.



  1. Xhaka Coq
    Walcott Cazorla Sanchez

    Unfortunately Ozil has not been at his best, and he needs to make way for a solid physical midfield battle.

    Cazorla is in better form and should not be dropped.

    We can’t have any weak links, Chelsea are always up for a game against us and you can expect them to up their game.

  2. You know what bothers me about Ozil.

    He covers so much ground, but never puts a foot in. He will make attacker pass back or sideways but never tries to win ball.

    1. And that is exactly what makes him a smart player in my book. What is his job? He’s our number 10, the playmaker, and one of the best ones at that in the world. What good will it do to us if he starts playing like Jackie boy, for example, gets injured, and is out for 10 months out of a year? Just think about that…

      1. Ozil can literally stand by the corner flag the whole 90 mins and some fans will still find a way to defend him! smh

                1. Strange also since he’s been here 2 out of the 3 seasons we’ve managed to win trophies and end 8 year wait , world class players instill confidence in others with their own consistent level of play.

                  Typical fan doesn’t know class if it bit him

                  1. When I remember the trophies we won recently, I remember Cazorla (FA Cup), Sanchez and Ramsey (FA Cup) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (Community Shield), not Ozil, sorry.

        1. Don’t be ridiculous. If he doesn’t put a good shift, people will complain just as much about him as they do about other players. However, more times than none he plays at the top level, and even though when his overall performance is at a level below his usual play he will still find that killer pass and produce a moment of magic that will help us score a goal and get the points. That’s why most of us, myself included, don’t slate him for “not tracking back” or “winning the ball”, etc. He is what he is, and even Mou, who demands ALL of his players to defend, gave him a complete green light to do whatever he wanted when he was with Real Madrid. Mou is a dick, but he recognizes a talent when he sees one, and he knew that he had something special in Ozil. Even asked him for a signed shirt for his son after one of the Chelsea vs Arsenal games a couple of years ago.

    2. why do you want Ozil winning the ball? More likely to foul the guy, to be honest. Ozil should improve his passing because it’s been either safe, or wayward lately. Let’s get him back to form asap…

  3. Is funny really? Saying who should partner Xhaka? It makes it sound as if he is koscieny or Sanchez. Lol

    On form I will go for Coquelin , Xhaka and Cazorla.
    I think Wenger will go for Ozil , Coquelin and Cazorla . Playing at home too means no 2 Dm’s. I Won’t be surprised if Xhaka is on the bench . Lol

  4. Well done Twig, nice article mate.
    Did you copy and paste this from somewhere? ? ?
    Because compared to your day to day comments there is a big difference with your articles. ?

    My lineup for the Chelsea game:

    Bellerin– Mustafi — Koscielny — Monreal
    ————- Xhaka —- Coquelin
    ———————– Ozil
    ——- Walcott —————– Sanchez
    ———————- Perez

    Subs: Cech, Holding, Gibbs, Gabriel, Elneny, Cazorla, iwobi, Ox,

    No doubts that Wenger will stick to his usual tried and tested Xhaka and Perez both on the bench. ?

    1. innit twig wtf.

      you have had some absolute gems…an when i say mean gems i mean the complete opposite..
      an this is coming from mr rainbows in my belly.

      credit your source you spatula 🙂

    2. Thanks Burgerboy. No, the article was a lovely creation of mine. Inspired by yet another Xhaka golazo 😉 In any case, I don’t think @ADMIN will accept a pirated article. He’s strict like that!!

      1. Hahaha ?
        You’re welcome mate.
        So Er .. You discovered Mr Admin’s strictness first hand, hey? ??

        P.s Hope Xhaka continues to inspire! ?

  5. In this Saturday’s game, I’ll prefer Xhaka to be in the mix.
    This is a new kind of good problem for us.
    Then what when Ramsey is back?

  6. Even though I really really love Xhaka-Elneny, the best option for Chelsea has to be Xhaka-Coquelin no doubt. But would Wenger drop Santi? I highly doubt it.

  7. Coquelin is not the player I want to see against Chelsea. Extremely high work rate, which I love and totally appreciate, but very poor defensively against technically gifted teams. Every time he lunges into a tackle, I expect to see either a yellow or a red card. Chelsea’s midfield/attack will eat him alive. As for Xhaka, for me he still needs to have a good run of games before he can slot into our starting XI. If you start him and Santi together, you have two b2b midfielders. So for me, on Saturday against Chelsea, I would start Santi and Elneny alongside him.

      1. He is a decent tackler, when he plays without any type of pressure. Which is basically saying that he can play in EFL cup games, or against minnows in the league. When he plays a team like Chelsea, City, Pool, or even Spurs, he gets nervous, and starts making mistakes. I don’t have to go far to give you an example. Last season against Spurs we were dominating the game, but then Coq went into a ridiculous and I might add needless challenge on Kane in the beginning of the 2nd half, and got himself a second yellow card. We were leading 1-0 before that, and were totally in control. No doubt we would have won the game easily, if it wasn’t for Coq. Spurs scored 2 goals after that, and we were lucky to get a point after Sanchez equalized. Just one of many examples of Coq’s play.

    1. Let’s be honest, besides for our new squad members, everyone’s levels drop against Chelsea. Cazorla has never had a good game against them, neither has Ozil, sanchez… Only Walcott has and that was several seasons ago.

  8. I’d like to see Ozil dropped to the bench simply because it sends the message that no one on Arsenal is undroppable anymore. Don’t think it’ll happen though – I suspect Wenger will go with the starting XI from Hull.

    1. Dropping players like Ozil and Sanchez would cause a massive backlash. Their Ego’s get hurt even when they are subbed off in the 89th minute. Lol ?
      I wouldn’t recommend it, Especially with their contract extension negotiations still pending.

    2. replace with who? Sorry, but that makes no sense. Best playmaker in the league riding bench because 2-3 average games. Only way he’s going to get better is if we play him. And who are we going to use to fill in his position, Cazorla? Everyone jumps on Ozil when he underperforms, tell me how great Santi was against PSG??

  9. I would go with fatboygooney selection of
    Bellerin– Mustafi — Koscielny — Monreal
    ————- Xhaka —- Coquelin
    ———————– Ozil
    ——- Walcott —————– Sanchez
    ———————- Perez
    and bring in elneny and carzola and geroiud at the second half elneny for coquelin
    carzola for ozil and geroud for wallcott or what ever is needed I am looking for a win

  10. There is no doubt Cazorla is our best penalty taker and except Giroud, I only recall misses from other players (Sanchez, Ozil, and even Xhaka at the Euros…). But on the field, I am really not convinced by Cazorla this season. Of course, he still has the technical skills that allow him create great chances anytime, but he seems so late at times! He had this fully deserved yellow card against Hull and was lucky not to get a second one. Against Chelsea, with a strong midfield, he might struggle even more and could put the team at risk (we can’t afford to play 10 to 11 against Chelsea).
    Coquelin is so energetic and powerful, Xhaka is getting better every match (and seems very strong mentally) and Ozil is just too talented to be sitting on the bench (even on a bad day, he can always create THE decisive chance).
    That’s why I would definitely start with Coq/Xhaka/Ozil.

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