Why Arsenal fans are wrong to want to sell Granit Xhaka

Why Arsenal should keep Granit Xhaka this summer by Alfie Culshaw

There has been plenty of criticism of Granit Xhaka over the last two seasons. Lots of people have been frustrated and irritated at his performances, calling for him to be dropped or even be sold. He has often been made a scapegoat for our poor performances. For me, this is essentially unjust. Xhaka has been exploited in our system; his weaknesses being emphasised by the sheer responsibility put on him to screen and protect our back four- a role not suited to him.

Granit Xhaka is supposed to be a “deep-lying playmaker”. Someone to take the ball off the Central Defenders and use his impressive passing range to launch attacks. Someone to always look forward, to spot players in between the lines, allowing them to turn and create opportunities. Someone who is relatively defensively capable, but when against more threatening, quick teams, to be accompanied by a more mobile, defensively minded midfielder. Someone in the mould of an Andrea Pirlo, a Xabi Alonso, a Toni Kroos or even Steven Gerrard later in his career. Xhaka may not be this calibre of player, and probably never will be, but he has the potential to be much closer to them, if used in the right way.

At Arsenal in the past few years, Xhaka has, in the majority of his games, been deployed as our most defensive midfielder. His responsibility has been to snuff out opposition attacks, holding his position in front of the back four and to follow midfield runners into the box. Whilst doing all this, the Swiss international has also been expected to maintain his deep-lying playmaker assets, dictating our play from deeper positions. Although on the whole he has managed to showcase these playmaker attributes, he has ultimately failed at the former role, in being our defensive midfielder. Understandably, this failure to succeed in this role has resulted in criticism.

He single-handedly lost us two games this season. The first, at Watford, with the game poised at 1-1 in the 90th minute, Xhaka stopped at the edge of the box, only for Tom Cleverly to continue running into it and score as the ball came back to him on the edge of the six-yard box. An identical situation then occurred away at Bournemouth with the game at 1-1. People were quick to criticise for this, and understandably so. However, the fact is he is not a defensive midfielder. He does not obtain the discipline, mobility, sense of positioning or ability to sense attacks before they happen. His tackling is often very good, but also sometimes reckless and badly timed. It is clear that Xhaka cannot occupy this role within our team. We need to deploy him in a role that suits him to see him fully flourish.

This all therefore emphasises our need to bring in a defensive midfielder. However, this should not mark the end for Granit Xhaka at Arsenal. He should be used in home games against lesser teams, where Arsenal dominate the game and possession, where his progressive passing can be utilised. These games were clearly not a problem for us last season and were often the games in which he did flourish as his position as a defensive midfielder was not tested. For bigger games he should either be left out for the holding midfielder or accompany them, meaning the defensive responsibility is not solely put on him, and he can focus more on his role as a deep-lying playmaker.

The stats are there to suggest he has the ability; he completed more passes than any other premier league player last season. He got more assists than Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez and Son-Heung Min. His average pass length of 18.44m is longer than Fernandinho, Matic and Kevin De Bruyne. He has the talent. He hasn’t been used properly. If we can use him properly, we will properly appreciate him as an asset.



  1. Remember Resource? says:

    We are signing lichsteiner and sokratis. #lichatis

    1. Alkali says:

      Hardly gives you the chills.

    2. kev says:

      Litchsteiner and Sokratis is old news I told them weeks ago before it looked imminent.Lichtsteiner will earn £70,000 a week while Sokratis signs for £15m.I also brought them the Adli news yesterday.I hope people realize I’m not you just because of transfer info.

      DONE DEAL!!!
      In other news,PSG’s Yacine Adli will sign a three-year deal at Arsenal, with the option of two more years, and has been convinced to move to north London by our manager Unai Emery.The player rejected Bayern Munchen and Real Madrid for us.
      He was guaranteed playing time so chose us.He was awarded PSG’s best academy player for his age group.

      1. kev says:

        Aaron Ramsey has signed a new three year contract with Arsenal and will earn £175,000 per week. Unai Emery also plans to appoint Ramsey as the new captain of Arsenal.

        1. Tatgooner says:

          I think you guys are frauds.
          Could be wrong though.

          1. Xxnofx says:

            No your not wrong

          2. Ackshay says:

            Lol he just looks at good sites who are relatively reliable for transfers and as far as contracts go even shit news like daily mail or the sun can produce a detailed contract information for ramsey(doesnt change the fact that it is still shit).

            Go to transfermarkt and check the rumours, it gives probability of transfer and is very reliable. sokratis is 90% which means done and Lichtsteiner is 65%/

            If i wanted to act like some shit who knows all like kev or resources i would just give ‘inside’ info about arsenal targets which are:
            Caglar Söyüncü
            Seri or Rabiot or Cristante

          3. Ackshay says:

            My sources you ask? daddy emery and uncle wenger
            Oh and i dine with the ramseys every week so here are his objectives set at arsenal:
            Get the number 8 shirt done
            Be captain Nearly there
            Win Fa cup and score winning goal done
            Win epl as captain; work in progress

  2. Sean says:

    I agree with what you said, mentioned in another Article that his passing is his main asset! He can spray balls perfectly throughout the whole pitch whilst having a wond of a left foot when giving the option have a shot from distance. A deep lying playmaker is what he is, Ramsey is a box – box midfielder who imo could start ahead of Ozil in the no10 role if giving a chance thats why signing someone like Seri to replace Jack is good business as him & Xhaka can battle it out to play alongside the proper CDM (if we purchase one) & you will maybe get the best out of Xhaka.

    Though id say if he doesnt shine this season he could be sold next summer! Same applys to Mustafi im sure Unless Soyuncu is his replacement as i dont see us having Boss, Sokratis, Soyuncu, Mavro, Chambers, Holding & Mustafi all in the same squad heading into the season, though again Holding could be set for a loan!

    1. Steven says:

      It was a pleasure to read a sensible well argued piece by Alfie .

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        It was a good article, and I think a lot of our players were let down by Wenger…maybe they’r e not as bad as we think. That said, Xhaka’s passing worries me a lot. If it’s his main asset, then we’re in trouble, because he gives the ball away in key areas a lot! I suppose it wouldn’t be as damaging if he wasn’t our deepest midfielder, but still a major concern.

  3. Jabby says:

    That’s very true Alfie, for his country he plays the deep-Laying playmaker. And the same goes for Borussia Mönchengladbach where he played very well. Hopefully Emery will see get a DM and use Xhaka in 4-3-3 system.

  4. Trudeau says:

    Good analysis and I agree that Xhaka has been misused to a large degree. But he also makes some mind numbingly bad decisions. I guess the issue is whether his strengths are great enough for Emery to make concessions to the way he wants Arsenal to set up. I hope he stays and in many ways, I see Xhaka like Mustafi. If Emery can get inside their heads and get them to cut out the silly lapses in concentration then we’ve got two very good (not great) players.

  5. Akande Oluwaseun Oyesola says:

    Good writeup, I am a big fan of Xhaka’s game despite his shortcomings. A lot of our fans don’t really understand his game and that’s the more reason I have a challenge with Ramsey being his partner in the middle because he’s always conscious of attacking than defending. A good defensive midfielder playing alongside him and Ramsey will give the team more balance and a championship contender in the near future.

    1. Pussyorarsenal says:

      No vex bros… I want players that I understand their game

  6. Sue says:

    He might be completely different under Emery. I have to say I was buzzing when we bought him…
    Would like to give him a season under Emery, then either keep him or sell him

  7. Abhishek Goyal says:

    He can play the deepest playmaker and I think he will. Second half of the season he became better at anticipating. He had a few important interceptions where he covered for the full backs. He has reduced sliding in and his retention improved. I think he will have his best arsenal season next season and that too in the deepest mid role.

  8. Shortboygooner says:

    The problem with xaka is that he doesnt really fit into our system. In the center of the park we play with CDM CM(box to box) and CAM. Xaka is none of these. The only time he woukd work well is against bigger teams where we drop our box to box amd change to DLP meaning no ramsey who is alot better imo. We need to difine rolls and get players that suit them. If we are gonna play xaka he needs a CDM with him not to be the CDM. I think for that reason he must go. And we shluld replace him with one as elneny is more defensive and can act ans cover and ainsley can play everywhere

  9. Chiza says:

    yacine adli..I’m so excited about his arrival..he is a class if used properly.. one day I dream of having an arsenal team like this in the future
    Bellerin soyuncu mavrapanos kolasinac
    Nwakali AMN
    Adelaide nketiah nelson

    1. Trudeau says:

      Ahhhh the promise of youth! Hope you’re right but I’ve seen too many JETs, Zelalams and Akpoms to get to fired up about our Young Guns.

    2. kev says:

      The deal to bring him here is done.He will sign a three year deal with the option of two years.We beat Bayern Munchen and Madrid to sign him.

    3. Mike says:

      This kid is same age with Emil Smith Rowe, if he is better than Rowe then he is a gem

  10. ClassyGunner says:

    Seemed like most of these players have different coaching needs then what they have actually been getting. Also probably game strategies need to be tweaked to bring their strengths into play.
    Strange that players start so well and then do not progress at all. Bellerin, Gabriel, Holding, Nelson, even Iwobi, Mustafi all started so well.

    I agree with Emery’s strategy of having a look at existing players before deeming them fit/unfit for The Arsenal.

    1. jon fox says:

      But, TO DISAGREE WITH YOU, complete videos of all the games existing players have already played are available to Emery and he must have already seen most or at least many of these by now. I accept his coaching will be different – just by it existing it is already different, as the previous manager never even tried to coach defence and had a horror of real defenders over his last decade – but he should know by now that such as Xhaka, Mustafi, Elneny, Welbeck and others just lack the necessary ability. Simple as that !

  11. Sergio says:

    I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter where in the park he plays, if he can’t tackle, and sends 45 yard potshots into row Z every time he gets the ball, that isn’t down to how he’s being utilised, that just means he’s a bad player.

    I’m hoping Emery can improve him though I’m not holding my breath.

  12. Dotash says:

    All our players are not cowards but they are neither warriors, Arsenal FC needs warriors, winners,and willful players. Xhaka is an average player, bad side of his game is that, he doesn’t know how to tackle an opponent without giving out a foul. DM ,CDM, CM (Not qualify to be for Arsenal)

    1. Vince says:

      To me i believe xhaka is a waste of space and should be sold

  13. Trudeau says:

    With offers on the table for Wilshire and Ramsey, most folks agreeing Xhaka needs to play further forward and the reported signing this PSG youngster, is anyone else concerned that our unbalanced team of this past season is showing little signs of balancing out? I think I just need to take a deep breath and have a little patience.

  14. Gelz says:

    @ Kev and Resource, whether your 2 people or 1 person with a split personality that refuses to acknowledge that you share the same body, give it up, everything you report is plastered all over the internet or someone’s FB page claiming to have inside knowledge, this article is about whether we should sell Xhaka or keep him,. My general opinion on him is we’ve had him for 2 years and he hasn’t improved or impressed and if we get an offer for him we should take it.

  15. okiror says:


    1. No Kev is not Resource..but Remember Resource is Resource/Leo.

  16. Phil says:

    I believe we must give Xhaka AND Mustafi the opportunity to see how they perform under Emery.There is no doubt the new manager will be bringing a new approach to the team in regards to set-up and coaching and he just might start getting these two players to perform more regularly.Mustafi will benefit with a recognised CDM in front of him ( FFS get this boy Torreira signed up quickly)and this will allow the whole midfield and attack to be more disciplined with a system that allows players to play in their right position.
    We have for too long played players in positions they are not comfortable in.Xhaka improved as the season went on but he is NOT a CDM.Just like Ozil(by far and away our best player)should NOT be played out wide.
    To me signing a CDM is our No1 priority and let everything sort itself out from there

    1. John0711 says:

      Sorry Phil for once I disagree he’s had two seasons quality player don’t need more time

      1. Phil says:

        I can see why John-there’s no doubt Xhaka is a bit of an enigma.Hes capable of dominating games with his passing ability but he seems so one paced and one dimensional in his play.We will see what Emery can get out of him but he needs to step up quickly or he will find himself on the bench at best

        1. jon fox says:

          Exactly! He is one paced and one dimensional in his play. Your words! He is also unaware of opponents and positionally unsure. That is why he should leave. Slow one paced players can never cut it in midfield in our Prem. Not good enough. Two years already and I want him sold. No more trials for a player proven not good enough, BEYOND DOUBT No bench. No more time. Out the door please!

    2. Andrew E says:

      Agree with all your comments Phil and in particular about Ozil.

  17. Andrew E says:

    He is a talented player and with good coaching could reach his potential. It must have been soul destroying to be ‘coached’ (if that’s what you call it) by the previous lot but I do not want to look back. I think Emery and his new team will assess each individual player before making any decisions on their future. Players will now have to earn their places in the team, no more managers’ favourites.

    I am beginning to feel that we have turned the corner but we have to keep patient because it’s not going to happen overnight. Really looking forward to the next match let alone next season and to eventually getting back to where we belong i.e PL Champions!!

  18. big g says:

    I’m not convinced about Xhaka as a CDM or DLP but if he has been mismanaged by Wenger then he should be given the chance to turn things around with new management and coaching.

  19. jon fox says:

    Xhaka could only ever play as a deep lying playmaker as his long passess are good and he can shoot from distance. BUT, BUT, BUT, he has too many holes in his game. First, he is one paced which is a massive no no. He is not positionally or opponent aware either. Another massive no no. He has no speed and his biggest weakness, in stark contrast to the lamented Cazorla, is his lack of mobility and two footedness. For me he must be sold ASAP. Young Alfie has it wrong , big time, on this player. I agree that in certain games at home against lowly opposition, he could shine at TIMES, BUT that is NOWHERE NEAR good enough a reason to keep him.

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