Arsene Wenger says Granit Xhaka is more regularly punished for the fouls he makes because of the position he plays and admits the Switzerland international is still yet to master the art of tackling.
Since signing from Borussia Moenchengladbach the midfielder has received two straight red cards, against Swansea and Burnley in the Premier League, and amassed a further eight yellow cards (3 UCL / 3 PL / 2 FAC), including five in his last five games.
While his reputation as a hard man proceeded him, it’s become obvious to all Arsenal fans and the boss that it’s actually his proclivity to slide in on opponents, usually from behind, that is earning him attention from the officials.
“When he stays on his feet he is a fair player. But he does have a problem with his technique [in terms of tacking]. He hasn’t mastered the art of tackling yet.”
The boss does have some sympathy for Xhaka, especially as he plays his football in an unforgiving part of the pitch.
“I believe he is in a position where his first foul gets a soft yellow card – because he had a history of that in Germany he is a big victim of that.
“But overall he is in a positive way [at the moment] and masters himself a bit better.”
In light of Xhaka’s struggles, there’s been much mashing of teeth in and around N5 about the fact the Gunners missed out on N’Golo Kante, a player the boss confirmed he had approached in the summer about a move to the Emirates.
The France international, who left champions Leicester for Chelsea, has been in fine form for Antonio Conte’s side, not just marshalling the midfield but even chipping in with the odd important goal, as was the case on Monday when his strike knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
“Kante is a different type of player,” Wenger said when asked to compare his compatriot with Granit.
“Xhaka is more direct and passes through the lines. Kante steals the ball without making fouls.”
Arseblog News has to admit we couldn’t help but laugh (through the tears) at how cutting that final appraisal sounds. We’re sure it didn’t sound so bad in person.