Xhaka: I’ve analysed my red cards, but I won’t stop tackling

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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?

A: No.

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53 Comments on "Xhaka: I’ve analysed my red cards, but I won’t stop tackling"

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we\'ve done it again

You say you do not want to be called “brainless” then you go ahead and say we are on the same level with bayern?

Marshall

So you want him to publicly criticise the club he plays for, seems to me that you’re the brainless one here

GunnAlex

I must say, I didnt like it when Wenger criticised his tackling in public. Fanning the flames and all that.

Hope he learns from it all. Difficult first season in the EPL and all.

Cannonball

Well to be fair. Both tackle which sent him off were equally awkward.

And am I missing something? I think I only heard Wenger told the press that Xhaka is lacking in tackle department and needs to improve it. And wasn’t it after being questioned about the red cards?

I mean what did he supposed to say in those situation?

Vincent Adultman

“Wenger told the press that Xhaka is lacking in tackle department”

Really impolite of arsene to be looking to be honest, least of all telling the press about it.

David C

we either of his red cards this year even red cards? McLean on Sanchez, that was worse than anything Xhaka’s done this year.

Trez

Agreed. All that did was reinforce the belief that Wenger didn’t want to sign him (based on Piers Morgan’s kid). To be honest, it has looked like Wenger had no plans for him. First he thought he was a box to box, then he finally admits he is better playing deep. Xhaka would most likely thrive under another manager

Mr. G

If Wenger didn’t want to sign him, why did he spend £35m on him? Just sayin’

Bould\'s Eyeliner

If there’s anything we know with absolute certainty about our own club is that if Wenger doesn’t want to buy someone, he most assuredly does not.

IamaGoober

I still think he has been fairly unlucky with the two red cards this season. There have been so many occasions where worse tackles by Chelsea players, Spurs players, United players, West Brom players, Stoke players.. basically the whole league, have gone unpunished and he’s be banned for a mental amount of time in comparison.

I kind of think its too early to assess how good he actually is for us considering the situation at Arsenal currently, and the fact he doesn’t really seem to know what role he is supposed to be playing in midfield. I’ve seen him play live quite a few times this season and its practically written all over his face that he has no idea what to do, or how Wenger wants him to play – so the jury is still out for me.

He does have a lethal passing range, and he has Lukas Podoloski power when he strikes the ball. I also kind of like the fact that he’s a bit of a loose cannon and gets sent off. We need a player like that in the centre of midfield – we’re too often painted as being a load of soft melts by the media, but now we have a guy that can dish it out a little, we’re labelled as reckless; so which one is it lads? But I for one like the fact he cuts people down like a lunatic, hopefully it might make opposing players fear us a bit more.

So I think with a bit of direction he does have a lot of potential to be a serious player for us, but he probably needs someone next to him who isn’t having a totally brutal season i.e. Coquelin, or Ramsey to reach his full potential.

But I think the whole of centre midfield needs a serious overhaul this summer. Xhaka needs someone to play with, I’d like an absolute unit in there who just screens the back four and does the simple things, like a serious upgrade on Coquelin. Then obviously we need to sort out who’s replacing Ozil as well.

Obviously we’ll do nothing and be faced with the same problems again next year for another disastrous campaign – but hey ho.

Mein Bergkampf

I don’t think the cards would bother anyone if he genuinely had a physical presence on the field. I’d take 3 or 4 reds a season from a player who dominated the midfield and intimidated opponents.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

3 reds is too much. He would miss 1/3 of the season through suspension!

Cannonball

That last question made me chuckle a bit somehow.

Me So Hornsey

I don’t even think Xhaka is that physical. He’s just a terrible tackler. Very good passer though. But not mobile or physically strong enough to play in a Wenger midfield that also includes Ozil.

What I don’t get about Wenger is that since Gilberto left he’s refused to bring in a specialised DM. Every single team that has won the title has one, in many cases TWO DMs yet Wenger has always depended on makeshift (Coquelin), converted (Alex Song) or none at all just deep lying playmakers/box to box partnerships.

Leicester had Kante and Drinkwater. Chelsea have Matic and Kante. Spuds have Dembele, Dier and Wanyama.

The reason I don’t get it is because he more or less invented this type of player to the premiership in the form of Vieira and Petit. It worked. Superbly. It made us solid and our defence was intimidating. But after Gilberto, he changed it. Why fix what wasn’t broken?

I’ll always be baffled by this. Maybe he’ll explain one day in a book.

crazy gunner

You are so right me so my worry about Xhaka is apart from his passing I have not seen much else passing alone is not enough. I can not even remember him physically dominating any game

He is not athletic enough nor does he have the positional discipline to anticipate early enough…coupled with the fact that he just can not tackle..

He is a big £35m problem at the moment…I am still cautiously optimistic he will come good

Trez

Xhaka IS aggressive. It’s like people are only watching him for the first time at Arsenal. He’s no where close to showing us the best he has to offer. That will come with time

Trez

Oh yeah and the 2 DM thing, well Wenger has obviously tried it out with Xhaka – Coq and it hasn’t worked that well. Besides Petit was great on the ball for a DM. The rumors of us wanting Naby Keita and Paredes makes sense.

Arsensarmy

Arsenal dropped the ball by signing xhaka over Kante and overpaid as well. AW might be wise to bring in idrissa gueye over the summer transfer. A big step up from xhaka and coquilen if you ask me. A smart ball winner and can seem to do everything else also. The side is still crying out for a Gilberto silva.

Rohith J

Hoping he takes a leaf from Arteta’s book on how to tackle.

Sean

Forgot how much I missed Arteta :'(

Kwame Ampadu Down

The adulation for Arteta on this site will never cease to amaze me. Decent player, good pro…but that’s it I’m afraid. Why the need to continually talk about him as if he’s up there with club legends ? Its just bizarre to me.

Sean

Jesus Christ, like a lot of others, I’m a big fan of Arteta and really liked what he brought to the team. Doesn’t mean I rate him among the likes of Bergkamp. Why feel the need to go looking for an argument?

Kwame Ampadu Down

Fair enough. A lot of others do though as a lot of comments on here have made clear…..to be fair my comment was really have at Rohith. There are so, so many players Xhaka could learn how to tackle from who wrere so, so much better at it than Arteta. Those sort of comments annoy the hell out of me.

Rohith J

To clarify, I don’t think either Xhaka or Arteta are natural tacklers, but Arteta knew what he was good at, and made the best of that. That’s where intelligence comes to play which is what I feel Xhaka can learn from.

ramgooner

Arteta for me is up there with the club legends. His professionalism is such that he took a pay cut to join us. A player like Santi looked up to Arteta. That says a lot about the man.

Arsensarmy

Being a defensive midfielder isn’t just about tackling. It’s about reading the game and cutting out passing lanes. A good CDM will intercept the ball with out having to tackle. They can anticipate the flow of the game and even dictate the game to some extent. having to tackle should be a last resort. Arsenal have none such player unfortunately.

VintageFuzz

Loving the new comments section blogs!

Trez

Xhaka will be great next season. I’m hoping we get someone like Dahoud/Paredes/Naby Keita to partner with him next season. Maybe we’re not quite on Bayern’s level, but this squad is a great squad which is too complacent as a result of Wenger being too lenient.

ScotchEggsRules

He’s had two red cards, for tackles, but he’s not physically dominated a single game. Which begs the question, what does he bring to the team?

So far, very little.

Sean

He’s the best player in our squad (have to discount Santi at this point sadly) at started attacks from deep, and one of our only ambitious passers in the team. Defensive work needs improvement, but it’s hardly difficult to see what he brings to the team. It’s just difficult to appreciate those qualities at the moment because the whole team’s in such a rut. Xhaka’s still clearly not reached his peak, so let’s just back him until he gets there.

Pooner

Best player in our squad? Blimey.

Sean

… at starting attacks from deep.

Mpls

I agree. Without him our midfield distribution would be, well, let’s look at who’s there right now:

Coquelin, Ramsey, Ox transitioning to the role.

Elneny has been so in and out lately we only have the slightest hint how well that could work. Ox is growing into the accompanying role and it seems like good things are forming there. This last match He was fine, but not standout in live play but he and Ramsey offered nothing defending set pieces.

To me the perception of Xhaka is down to our Midfield being totally dysfunctional right now with no adaptive strategy to make something/anything work. That and media drivel and this card nonsense. Unless we really bring in a significant player in the summer, he is going to be the constant for distribution. With a proper chemistry around him I wager he will be quite good.

Public Elneny Number One
Public Elneny Number One

Nothing against some tough tackling, this team needs it but i don’t see Xhaka doing that currently he’s nowhere near being a midfield enforcer. He needs to stop doing the silly petulant stuff he does when he gets annoyed and also not give the ball away right in front of the defence, that would be a good start. He does look a good prospect though and some of his long passing is well tasty.

Rambling Pete

My opinion is that he needs to learn but also that referees seem to have it in for him. Let’s be honest here, the red card he got early in the season was an absolute joke. A travesty! I haven’t seen a decision that bad since Lucy Jones decided she’d go out with my friend Robert Foster instead of me. Sure he had a car and I just had a bicycle but he also looked like a man whose face had been stung by a thousand bees. Some of the spots he had were enormous, and it hurt because I was very much in love with her. I’d like to say it was happy ever after for them but it wasn’t to be. Robert was unable to control himself behind the wheel, he thought he was Emerson Fittipaldi, and he crashed his Ford Escort into a tree one night and they had to amputate both his legs. It was a terrible thing, I can remember going to the hospital after the operation and seeing him lying there, bandages up his legs and machines bleeping was hard to take. Still, I did what any friend would do. I sat with him until he woke up. And when he did I gently stroked his face and leaned in to whispered “Haha stumpy she won’t stay with you for long now!”

I was right.

Yankee Gooner

Nice bit of casual ableism

Naptime

It was funny but this is not the real Rambling Pete.

Uhtred of bergkampburg
Uhtred of bergkampburg

I think he’s a quality player and exactly what we need in that area of the pitch.. I stopped listening to the so called mainstream media a long time ago,if more people did that we would have a lot more happy people on our hands.

Lord Bendnter

It’s like the reporter only had one question (the last one) and thought to beat around the bush until
Good man Xhaka, he has been wrongly given red cards at times. He is aggressive and I hope he stays that way. Just needs to assess some of when to go into a challenge or not better
Still though, people forget it’s his first year in English football.
I love his answer to the last question, plain simple No

Oziltologist

People say Pogba needs time to adjust but say that Xhaka is shit and a flop.

truj

He is a dirty player, isn’t he? 9 reds since 2014, thats a whole season suspension at least!

COYG

If he played for the Scum, Liverpool or United; there would be no criticism of his play. He would be applauded for his strong tackles and aggressive play. Look at the tackle on Alexis…..we were told that it was meaty, not nasty or stupid.

Media disdain for Arsenal is real. How many times have we been told how long the Scum or Liverpool have gone without a trophy? 9 years and 5 years respectively btw.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/0/long-has-since-every-premier-league-team-last-won-major-trophy/

Where is Arsenal’s version of Duncan Castles/Miguel Delaney? A castrated media plant to go out of their way to never criticize their club under the guise of “journalism”?

Laci

I think he could be our captain one day, couldn’t he? His answers show a little bit of his mentality and I think this is what we need.

Mootilated

”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.”

Excellent.

Daddy

Yo is there actually Fucking people complaining about 2red cards? Thats the way the guy plays which is normal especially in epl. Go watch women’s football if you cant deal with “tackles” from a CDM. Fuckin mugs

mally

it is wrong how his reputation has him marked, when you look at players like Marcos Roja at manure who should have had at least 3 red cards for his awful over the top tackles, I notice that muppet portugeezer hasn’t mentioned that when he moans about how the refs treat his team !!

Lula da Gilberto

I’m glad he is not buckling under pressure. The media always want some narrative to spin, as if football fans can’t simply enjoy watching and talking about the merits of the game itself.

I’m also glad that he doesn’t seem to be conforming so thoroughly to Wenger’s criticisms of his tackling. We wanted someone like Xhaka before the club signed him, as with Alexis. If they can improve their game, great, but I don’t want Xhaka to dull down his game.

TPz07

I love how firm and short he is with his answers. Love the confidence

Eris

For me, it is curious that the same referee, John Moss, has shown him a red card twice, for tackles that were not dangerous or reckless, according to the books. This suggests the ref was only acting on the player’s reputation which preceded him. Against Swansea, he has tripped a player in a cynical fashion, which is a yellow card at best. The second time, it was a lunge, yes, but no where dangerously close to the opposing player and with studs on the ground. No one will have questioned a yellow card decision.

On the other hand, Marcos Rojo has had 3 cases of two-footed, studs up tackles, which ALL went without a red card. Amazing!

Dean

The FA and the referees could do with analysing his red cards.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Right guy wrong role. Feel Xhaka is more of a passer who can control the tempo of the game. He is by no means a defensive midfielder. He is someone who could take over from Cazorla in the midfield.

Having said that he has a long way to go, and I think that unless he is wearing the “Arsenal are as good as Bayern” hat, he will look back on his first season as a bit of a disappointment.

LEFT08

I was excited when he first arrived thinking that he might have some goals and a bit of flair in him. I now think we could have spent the 30 mln better. Still hope he can improve. Comparison with Petit is completely off the mark.

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