Tag Archives: switzerland

Xhaka Can?

June was an interesting month for player developments in and out of Arsenal.

We had the recruitment team working overdrive, a new contract for youth prodigy Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and then there was the contract extension of Granit Xhaka.

This new derived a mixed reception from Gooners. Xhaka was one of the ‘villains’ of last season’s horror show, often his mistakes put under a large magnifying glass and pored over. His defensive work was viewed as a symptom of our downfall and weakness on the pitch.

An interesting article by Tim Stillman on Arseblog highlighted the Swiss midfielder’s vast improvement in the second half of the season though, and how he could yet still be vital to our hopes of success.

An upturn in form he may have enjoyed, but for the sake of objectivity, a spike in context means that there was massive room for improvement in the first place – as highlighted in this article on 7am Kickoff

For a central midfielder, his defensive skills need work. He was outtackled by the likes of Roberto Firmino last campaign, and while he improved in the second half of the season, to increase his defensive output would not have been difficult. Given that we have now acquired a specialist in this role in Lucas Torreira, where does this leave Xhaka?

Xhaka is very much a ‘square peg, round hole’ type of player. His all-action displays for his country and previous club Moenchengladbach gave high hopes of the combative centre man we have craved since Gilberto departed.

Granit is more than that though. While his tackling and interceptions may need work, his distribution success is amongst the best in the League. His eye for a pass and ability to transition play swiftly with a ping of his boot gives us something extra.

Granit Xhaka needs to improve

Unai Emery is now in charge and Xhaka’s contract extension would not have been offered if the Spanish boss didn’t have plans that included the Switzerland star. Emery is known to favour a pressing game, and if Xhaka is part of the Emery regimen, then it means that Emery knows that Xhaka has what it takes to continue to do what he does in attack, but also rework his defensive aspects.

The heat that Xhaka gets from our fanbase is a little much – but he is a scapegoat because his mistakes have been high-profile and highlighted by the media. Many other players don’t track runners with aplomb and / or lose out when tackling for possession. Yet Xhaka is a dud because of this.

There can be no doubt that the Granit from last season will not have much of a career at Arsenal under Unai Emery, should Xhaka continue with his lapses in concentration. He will need to hone his awareness, and make sure that he gets to where he needs to be. As Emery himself pointed out when commenting on Xhaka’s new deal – he is still young. that means there is room for improvement.

Xhaka has the building blocks to fill in the gaps in his game and be the player we need him to be, but there are justifiable reservations on his starting place amongst us all.

The fact is undeniable. We know he has the talent, but if he were to stay at the level he is now, then the exit door would not be far away. Emery demands more than what the vast majority of our squad put in last campaign.

Xhaka has a clean slate. It is clear he is very proud to represent The Arsenal. Now is the time to use that fierce pride and desire and leave it all out on the pitch, and adapt to Emery’s style.

It will be very interesting to see how he performs – the season can’t come soon enough.

Basel 1-4 Arsenal: 5 Keypoints From The Match

This match was set up to be the typical Arsenal Euro tie.

A necessity for rotation would see a weakened side rock up to St Jakob Park and lose with an insipid performance – only to see the result they were hanging on for come to fruition. 

Well, the script didn’t come into play, as the Gunners ran riot and won handsomely – all while rotating the squad just enough to rest some first teamers. 

Not only that, but Ludogorets defied the odds and grabbed a point in Paris – thus handing the Gunners top spot in the group.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid may lay in wait in the knockout stages, but Arsenal have finished top of their group for the first time in five years.

A hat-trick from Lucas Perez and a fourth from Alex Iwobi earned the win in Switzerland, and the potentially tricky match against Stoke on Saturday will be a lot easier knowing Mustafi, Cech, Theo and a few others will be far fresher than if they were to have played against Basel.

Also, confidence will have been imbued within some of our players who have flitted in and out of the side. 

All positives! 

Here are 5 key points from the 90mins:
Lucas Perez up to speed







The Spaniard was only declared fully fit last week, and played in the EFL Cup loss to Southampton. Yet he showed great instinct to score his first two and grabbed his Hattrick with his right foot with a smart finish. Lucas could be a great option with so many fixtures coming up.
Gibbs with 3 assists

Gibbs has been the epitome of professionalism while Montreal has been enjoying first choice status, but he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. The Englishman has improved, and his final ball and attacking runs caused havoc against Basel. Great to see.
Alexis and Özil given 40winks

Much of the talk before the game was whether our two star players would be given a rest. They weren’t, as Wenger chased the unlikely prospect of top spot in the group. It paid off, and the two players were taken off in the 74th minute. Not much, but better than the whole 90. Every little will help with the slew of games coming up.
Holding highly regarded

Rob Holding was given another start, and the young lad continues to impress. Alongside Koscielny, he showed excellent positioning and aerial prowess. If he continues this progress, what a player we will have in the future.
Top spot matters

People will deride the fact that we have finished 1st, stating that we will still likely get a tough draw with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid potential opponents. What does come into play will be home advantage – the second leg will be at home. A slim plus, but a plus nonetheless – and any advantage is a good one in the knockout stages.
There was more to take from the game, such as another solid game from Gabriel and Iwobi looking a little more assured than of late, but the above really stood out as the big talking points of the game.

We took top spot, we won convincingly again and we took care of our squad. 

Good times. As Arsenal fans, we should enjoy them when they’re here. That’s why we are fans. 

Onwards to the Stoke game! 

Arsenal Vs Basel – Champions League Preview

Kickoff – 1945 GMT

Swiss champions Basel travel to The Emirates for tonights game, and there are a few twists in this match that gives it a little extra zest.

The second group game in our Champions League campaign sees a reunion of sorts, with Granit Xhaka given a chance to see former teammates a lot sooner than he realised. Not only that, but his brother will be on the other team too. 

Taulant Xhaka, older brother of Gunner Granit, will be part of the defence that will look to stifle Arsenal’s creativity, and on the evidence of their previous meeting at Euro2016 for their respective countries – there will be no room for sentiment on the pitch.

The links don’t end there. Our Egyptian, Mohamed Elneny, is also a former Basel player, and he will be champing at the bit to play a part in this game.

His chances of doing so improved dramatically during our comprehensive 3-0 win over Chelsea in the weekend. Francis Coquelin went off injured after 30minutes with a knee injury, so will not be part of the squad. Arsene Wenger reassured fans during his press conference for this game that the French battler has not suffered a long term injury and the prognosis is 3-4 weeks layoff – which isn’t exactly what Gooners want to hear after previous diagnosis of the same length….

Olivier Giroud is also not part of the squad, but it matters little after he was sent off in Paris in the previous CL game. So, will Alexis continue his excellent job upfront? Or will duties be shared with Lucas Perez? The Spaniard will be well suited to European endeavours over Premiership outings as he has yet to fully adapt to the rough and tumble of domestic fixtures, so Lucas may just get the nod ahead of the Chilean – although we are all painfully aware that Alexis does NOT like to be rested.

Will we continue with the ‘Cup Keeper’ premise? The initial reaction to include David Ospina in the team against PSG was derision and bewilderment, but his Man of the Match performance reminded us all what he is capable of. The Colombian will more than likely be given the gloves again, but what of the rest of the team?

Granit Xhaka is in prime position to continue his domination of midfield, and Mohamed Elneny will be looking to get on the teamsheet, with his only rival for the spot being Santi Cazorla – and the diminutive Spaniard has played in nearly every game so far, so a rest is overdue. 

With our next game being a trip to Turf Moor on Sunday, and no game is a gimme in the Premier League, Wenger may opt to rotate his men. The numbers at his disposal has never been greater, but he must take care not to shift focus from this game as Basel have experience in dishing out lessons to English teams – Man Utd and Liverpool can testify to this.

Yet another dilemma that the modern day manager faces, but Wenger has buckets of experience, and scars, that should put him in the right direction. 

The opposition are not to be underestimated, but what is most important is the continuation of the winning habit. Whether it be Champions League, EFL Cup or the Premier League, a loss can be hugely disruptive to the confidence of the team. 

We have been through the rough start, and those very early results were akin to a kid learning to ride a bike – we weaved, bobbed and shook, but now we’ve got the hang of it, and we are whizzing away. 

Let us just hope our sibling and friends don’t knock us off……

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott, Lucas Perez

Predicted score – 3-1

Granit Xhaka – Tough by Name, Tough by Nature – The Lowdown.

Granit Xhaka is in London!!!  No wait, he is at a Borussia Monchengladbach training camp! Don’t be ridiculous, he just recently liked a photo on Instagram of a pair of clogs – he’s in Amsterdam!

Maddening, but Granit Xhaka is apparently joining our club…….Isn’t he?

The muddy waters of Twitter make finding the truth far more difficult than it should be. As Gooners though, we are used to it.

Most Arsenal fans are seasoned veterans when it comes to the seasonal transfer hype. There are a large number though, that cannot resist the herd of bandwagons that rumble through social media. Like a moth to a flame, they flock to the nearest story, regardless of substance, and greedily pore over the bogus words.

Continue reading Granit Xhaka – Tough by Name, Tough by Nature – The Lowdown.