Why Arsenal need to have Granit Xhaka back in the first team

Arsenal is more effective with Granit Xhaka in the team.

I wanted to know how Arsenal performed in the Premier League when Granit Xhaka played and the numbers were certainly interesting.

Now, these numbers are far from scientific, I will openly admit that. I also did not include the likes of Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dani Ceballos etc, they have not played enough games in midfield to get a fair percentage.

There is also mitigating circumstances and context to take into consideration. As an example, Mesut Ozil is an attacking midfielder and Lucas Torreira a defensive midfielder.

And obviously, players are played regularly out of position, certainly in the case of Torreira.

Anyway, I got these figures from the Premier League website and of course, they only apply to Premier League games.

Game Played

170 Mesut Ozil
108 Granit Xhaka
44 Lucas Torreira
46 Matteo Guendouzi

Win percentages

55.88 Mesut Ozil
53.70 Granit Xhaka
47.72 Lucas Torreira
45.65 Matteo Guendouzi

Assists percentages

30.58 Mesut Ozil
11.11 Granit Xhaka
4.54 Lucas Torreira
2.17 Matteo Guendouzi

Goals percentages

18.82 Mesut Ozil
6.81 Lucas Torreira
6.48 Granit Xhaka
0.00 Matteo Guendouzi

Tackle success percentages

70.00 Mesut Ozil
67.00 Granit Xhaka
61.00 Lucas Torreira
54.00 Matteo Guendouzi

Again, these are just basic statistics and there are a ton of variables to consider but taken at face value there is some interesting conclusions to be drawn.

Ozil is the standout midfielder, Guendouzi is still on a learning curve and Xhaka is basically the second-best performer.

This is a little unfair on Torreira because he is played out of position regularly and the figures are skewed towards Ozil because he plays so much further up the pitch.

Also, the numbers are percentages only and not the core numbers, as an example, the tackles made by Ozil may have a higher percentage but he does much fewer tackles than the others.

There are other stats and the reason I chose the ones above is that they are the most critical in my opinion, as an example, I did not include crosses or headers won etc.

Based on these figures and some others I did look at it is clear to me that Xhaka is more effective than Guendouzi and that a threesome of Xhaka, Ozil and Torreira would be the best option for Emery.

Problem is, he likes Guendouzi and that generally means that at least one of the above players is sacrificed.

A lot of the fans may not like Xhaka but his numbers stand up very well against his fellow midfielders, especially those that are more defensive-minded.


  1. I agree Guendouzi shouldn’t start every game. He wastes too much time. But I wouldn’t start Xhaka either. Luiz can do a much better job in his place. Torreira and Luiz is the perfect midfield duo, with Ozil in front. The only good thing about Xhaka is his long range distribution, and Luiz is well capable of that, and more, like aerial duels, tackles, etc.

    1. Luiz would be our perfect defensive midfielder, he has the vision, tenacity and mobility. I love Guendouzi but I do think he is rather slow, inexperienced and holds on to the ball for too long, we can’t even tag him a defensive midfielder, he is moulded for a box to box role.

      Auba must remain central, he is so great there, he is more potent there, and the best way to have both Lacazette and Auba together on the pitch is if we play Lacazette in the midfield just behind Auba, and use him as our 10, he tackles and has the skill set to drive the attack.

      Martinelli Lacazette Pepe
      Luiz Torriera
      Tierney Holding Chambers Bellarin

      We better start playing Martinelli, kid is a genius already. We must simply go back to our one touch football and pressing from the attack and midfield.

      1. Guendouzi is like a wet dough now. The shape his play style will take in the coming years depend on his own ambitions as well as the coaching and direction of the coach. He has potential, but he has to decide first himself, the kind of skill sets he wants to focus on. Currently, he is slow to be box to box, weak to be a DM, and doesn’t have good one touch passing to be a good CM. But he can choose to be one of these, if he wants and focus his training on the required attributes. But he isn’t ready to feature every game.

        With Luiz, yes he is the best option really, among our players for a DM role. Chambers and Holding should be the CBs.

        And I would be equally happy with either Lacazette or Ozil in the number 10 behind Auba. Both would present different dynamics. That’s the point, we already have world class attacking setup anyway. Problem is in the midfield. Luiz and Torreira would do wonders there.

        And I agree, Martinelli should always start, he will only get better. He is the kind of player you can even use as a number 10 even, by playing Saka on the wing. Martinelli can also play as a striker. So he shouldn’t be benched.

  2. LOL, no. It’s obvious why we are playing so terrible: the manager.

    The players probably don’t want to play for him and are confused by his tactics.

    Xhaka, as a player, is very mediocre. And he probably doesn’t want to play for Emery either. So no, Xhaka shouldn’t play, and Emery should be sacked.

  3. Things do make me laugh…to start with (although a while ago now) the 2 planes….
    Then Mustafi out… now Sok/Luiz are so bad, some fans are calling for him to come back… and now the same with Xhaka!! Wow!!
    One thing though, surely there won’t be 2 planes for Unai? We’re all agreed on that? Emery out…..

  4. 😊Martin what a compete waste of your time so I will give you the respect of not reading anything after the title 😳😳

  5. AdMartin-those statistics make a complete mockery of your opinions of Ozil don’t you think?And I just love the 70% success rate in tackles won.
    Just play Ozil as a CDM as he is obviously more proficient in his defensive capabilities than anyone else we have.And yet there are some who would have you believe he DOSENT know how to tackle.Great Article.

    1. No Phil, In fact, the more I looked at the figures in depth the more I am convinced he has to go. But if I skewed those numbers to back up my argument it would have been disingenuous. This article was about Xhaka and him alone. We can do Ozil at another time Phil.

      1. Well-looking at those figures I would suggest that Ozil is the last player we need to be selling.Unless of course I’m reading your statistics incorrectly

        1. As I said, these figures were chosen to highlight Xhaka in those specific areas, they don’t include stats like tracking back, a proper in-depth analysis of tackles made and so on. This article is seriously not about Ozil or Guendouzi or Torreira, but whether Xhaka should get back in the first team, that’s all mate. But no, you are not reading those stats wrong and based on those stats alone, you are right about Ozil.

          1. Thank You AdMart-I actually meant my first reply as a tongue in cheek question but since you have now proved that Mesut Ozil is, based on your statistics, most likely the greatest player ever to pull on an Arsenal Shirt I will happily leave things at that.
            On another note, and more as a reply to your headline topic, I challenge anyone to say we have not missed Granit Xhaka in the team since he has been excluded.It says more about the talent in our squad than Xhaka’s ability but your point is clearly proven.
            Good talking point AdMart

  6. So now Sky are reporting that Everton are considering Moyes or Howe as a replacement for Silva…..
    Still no news on Emery…. what a joke!

  7. The eyes are the proof Xhaka is useless. He is mindLESS as opposed to mindFULL. He is unable to concentrate and focus. He is physically slow and has a poor temperament. That’s what we have become. He is too poor for Arsenal.

  8. Those stats hide the number of games those fringe players recently. They collected the stats when they were regulars

    For instance, Ozil has a high number of take-ons, but he did it by moving sideways like Sanchez. He never took high risk by dribbling forward like Traore, James and Pulisic, as seen when he played

    Because Ozil’s tackling stats are much higher than our DMs, might as well reassign him as a regista. I don’t think he could do better defensive job than Xhaka and Jorginho, despite having better tackling stats

      1. Yeah but AdMart- you must remember @Got No Idea sees thing differently from most and sort of makes things up as he goes along.As for statistics, you can’t always tell exactly what is correct, I accept that, but passing to a teammate, even if it is a sideways pass, at least keeps us in possession of the ball.Not something that too many players at the club are familiar with.

        1. All are welcome providing they are an Arsenal fan and abide by basic rules, even if we disagree. As for the stats you are referring to Ozil again, the article was not about him, he was purely included because he is a midfielder, no other reason. I get criticised by some for going on about Ozil. But it is not always me, it is almost everyone from both sides including yourself. Again, this article was purely about Xhaka.

  9. The current obsession with stats in football is difficult for us oldies to comprehend and to my mind can be totally misleading.One of the most important aspects of having a successful team is to run well off the ball to make space for team mates to exploit.Watch Man City, Liverpool and this season Chelsea and you will see the high work rate of players without the ball.Yet , as far as I am aware,this vital aspect of the game is not measured in the stats, while a three hard back pass is.To those of you who are booked on stage I would suggest you ignore them and use your own eyes to determine who is a good footballer and who is not.Xhaka to me is no more than a decent player who is not a vital cog in the Arsenal team, it just so happens that our other midfielders are not much better although I expect Willock and Guendouzi to go on to become “very fine players”.

  10. I agree, Xhaka should be put back in the team to help gift the opposition more goals so we can be rid of emery sooner. If there’s one thing I trust captain xhaka with it’s making the team worse. Get him in there

    1. Good one.
      No Xhaka should just go with the manager how many times has he been the main man for us how many times has he cost us.

  11. Ok,I’ll irritate everyone with one fact again. More than 50% of the games Torreira has played for arsenal have been alongside Granit Xhaka .That means , there is no conceivable way he was playing in the deepest midfield slot. Taking that into account, Torreira has rarely been played out of position . In reality , there’s been only like one or two games where he was deployed as the most advanced midfielder ,in the rest ,he’s been deployed as a central midfielder .Exactly where he played all of last season. Xhaka’s position has never changed either .And in reality , simply because media and arsenal fans don’t want to portray the good about him , they’ll ignore the fact that he is arsenal’s most progressive passer .I said that the team would struggle to move the ball forward without him and we are seeing it.

    I know what the Torriera defense will be , so let me clarify .Torreira played and plays where Vieira used to play . Xhaka plays where Gilberto used to play

    1. Spot on Mr Joe. I don’t know why some fans would rather listen to media outlet than watch how players play. Lucas and Kante are very much alike and can never be asked to sit at the base of midfield because it ain’t their strength(their strength is winning the ball even if it is high up the pitch).

  12. I am not sure if we need Xhaka back but we do have David Luiz who can play that position as a defensive/holding midfielder of a deep-lying ball-carrying midfielder. As a defensive midfielder, any errors will not be as bad as it would be playing as a central defender. As a ball-carrying midfielder he has good vision and passing range. He is also an occasional goal threat from long range. David played these positions with Chelsea and did very well or at least better than the ones we have right now. Unai Emery should try all his options.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs