Granit Xhaka has expressed some annoyance at the way he’s been described by sections of the football press in England.
The Swiss midfielder has garnered a reputation for being dirty and reckless, and while there have been a couple of moments over the season that haven’t done him any favours, he does seem to get a disproportionate amount of criticism compared to some other players.
He says he’s looked at his cards this season and that fouls so far away from his own goal have to stop, but says he won’t stop being a physical player as that’s part of his game.
The 24 year old spoke on a wide range of subjects, including the cards, losing to Bayern, Alexis and Ozil, and of course the manager, to Swiss newspaper Blick.
Here’s what he had to say, with thanks to Florian for the translation.
PLEASE NOTE: To websites/blogs/media organisations: if you take the translation from here, a link back to this article would be greatly appreciated.
Q: You have collected more red cards than him (Taulant), though. You’ve got nine since 2014.
A: By now I’ve got more cards than him, yes.
Q: How do you react to the fact that almost everybody in England criticises you for that?
A: I don’t mind. I’m not that easy to knock down, nobody can destroy me. But I’m bothered by people who call me dirty, stupid, and brainless. You don’t say words like these to people you don’t know.
Q: A certain aggressiveness on the pitch is expected of you after all.
A: That’s my game. If you take that away from me, I’m not the same anymore.
Q: After so many red cards and criticism: Don’t you automatically hesitate going into a tackle now?
A: Never. I have analysed my dismissals and many fouls happened before the half way line, 60 to 70 meters from our own goal. That’s too far away. That has to stop. But I don’t go out on the pitch and pull out of a challenge.
Q: We thought in England the game is physically tougher than anywhere else. Is that not true?
A: I thought the same before my transfer. But it’s not like that. The refereeing is similar to the Bundesliga.
Q: Have you found at Arsenal what you were looking for?
A: Absolutely. An outstanding city, an outstanding club. The only thing that Arsenal has been missing is a league title. I believe that will change soon.
Q: How does it feel losing 1:5 twice in a row against Bayern?
A: Very bad.
Q: Are Arsenal that far off Bayern?
A: No, not at all.
Q: But the two clubs surely are not on the same level?
A: Hmm… from my view they are.
Q: Arsenal are as good as Bayern? A courageous statement after those results. Not too courageous?
A: Courageous, yes. But that’s how I feel. The defeats annoy me particularly because I have had good memories against Bayern. We were able to beat them three times with Gladbach. And I don’t think Gladbach are on the same level as Arsenal, so…
Q: Even though they beat you twice, Bayern seem interested in you.
A: …I have read that too. But I have not heard anything.
Q: Who are your best friends at Arsenal?
A: Specially those who speak German. Mustafi, Mertesacker, Özil. Overall we are a very cool group.
Q: Mesut Özil or Alexis Sanchez? Who is the best player you have ever played with?
A: Mean question! If I say Özil, Alexis is mad at me and vice versa. But those two are certainly the best. They have incredible quality!
Q: After the tough public criticism do you still feel the confidence from Arsène Wenger and the club?
A: Of course! For me it was a very important sign that after the two red cards and the four games suspension I got into the starting line-up against Bayern again. I didn’t expect that myself. Since then I play. That makes me stronger. That shows me the manager trusts me.
Q: Wenger himself is being criticised severely at the moment. He wants to announce soon whether he continues or quits. Do you know what he has in mind?