Xhaka Can. Apparently.

We are Arsenal Football Club, we always need to be at the top. Whenever we’re not at the top that means there’s an improvement that needs to be done. That’s it, that’s what you get when you play for a big club like Arsenal. There’s no other choice.

Hector Bellerin tells it as it is.

As the big top was filled to capacity at the media circus at the wrong end of the Seven Sisters, Unai Emery found himself in front of sympathetic torturers.

Business was soon addressed; Dani Ceballos looks to be the only major absentee with Bukayo, Holding and Kolasinac all suffering minor knacks and twangs but are expected to be fit. Today is going to be a busy day in decision-making.

It looks like one Emery has taken is over Granit Xhaka. The midfielder made no secret of his bitterness of recent events when he spoke to the Swiss media. Comments about happiness and how “there will surely be a solution – as I can’t accept what has happened with me.”

Even allowing for the loose translations that the media use, that reads more of a threat than any act of contrition on his part. Should he do so? If he has genuine intentions of staying at Arsenal, it strikes me there must be an acknowledgement of his role and actions on his part.

We Are Family…

However, I don’t think he wants that outcome. “I have a clear idea as to how things should proceed, and Arsenal know this as well,” he told his compatriots. “Although I still have a contract with them, I will be glad to return to the club – so we can finally sort matters out.”

That’s fair enough and he is right; there must be some finality to this. Closure, it’s probably called.

In his absence, we haven’t been any worse than when he is included in the side. It’s hard to see how he gets back into the starting line-up. Injury? Suspension? Emery can hardly put the recent bad form down to Xhaka’s absence; we were equally as hopeless when he played.

Emery wants him back and as head coach, he is entitled to pick the XI he wants, that he believes can win. We’re just as entitled to pass an opinion on it – despite what you may read elsewhere; that’s football.

My view is that Xhaka had already lost supporters when he blamed forwards for missing chances rather than accept criticism of his own performance. Telling supporters to “F*ck off” is not acceptable behaviour for a captain. In doing so, he made himself a scapegoat forever and a day. If he came back into favour once again, we wouldn’t be talking of Lazarus anymore.

Can he improve the XI? I don’t think so. If Emery thinks he can, so be it but a January departure is probably in everyone’s best interest.

The Spaniard has bigger issues to overcome. He “knows” we need “better performances” so the XI is “connecting with supporters”. His football philosophy is that “we need to play better and control the game better ” which threw everyone. Who knew the answer was so simple?

…A Family Dose

Emery’s fundamental problem is that “we are not convincing the people, the supporters.” I beg to differ; he’s convinced most people that he’s the wrong man for the job.

But still, he has the solution. “I spoke to the players,” he said, holding the Arsenal world rapt. “Our success is going to be starting by being comfortable, strong and confident at home. We want to deserve to win each match.”

There you have it. I don’t know why anyone didn’t think of it before. That’s the sound of hands slapping against foreheads. “How thick have we been?”

Meanwhile, Hector Bellerin once more became the voice of sanity as he boogied to Sister Sledge. “We. Are. Family,” Hec crooned, “accept who we are, what we have, getting everyone together, supporting each other, and that is the way that we can reach our goals.”

He made it scan properly, proving that not only is he king of the catwalk but he rules the airwaves as well.

The observations are, of course, spot on. His, not mine, I hasten to add. Unity is required but in footballing terms, it’s the chicken and egg. Good form inspiring the crowd or the crowd inspiring good form? There is no right answer. We’ve all been to plenty of matches with a great atmosphere which inspired a poor performance and vice versa.

Arsenal’s reality is that we’re a club split. Emery could turn the situation around but seasoned football watchers know these are the death throes of his reign.

Saturday’s match against Southampton is a must-win game. They are hopelessly out of form, with dropped points from that, Norwich, Brighton and West Ham more nails for Emery’s coffin.

The spotlight’s glare intensifies with Mourinho’s appointment. Not because we wanted him but because it shows what happens when changes occur.

Arsenal, take note.

’til Tomorrow.

21 thoughts on “Xhaka Can. Apparently.

  1. Michael says:

    With the return of “proper” football tomorrow I’m expecting more wtf than wow.

  2. andy1886 says:

    I can’t see how Xhaka plays for us again, no contrition, he’s like a spoiled brat who can’t take his punishment. If Emery plays him he’s an idiot, it will end very very badly.

    Contrast him with Hector who speaks sense every time you hear from him. I’m not sure if he’s the ideal captain on the pitch but as a spokesperson for the players and the club he’s top notch.

    I expect that the players know that Emery is a dead man walking. It’s difficult to see any major upturn in form until we get a new coach which is most likely to be in the summer. So more of the same is what I’m expecting.

  3. Wailesy says:

    I hate it when managers use the word deserve. Like it’s their given right to win. Wenger used to say it all the time. Emery’s English is shit so I forgave him but no not anymore. If he plays Xhaka he’s done for

  4. Bill says:

    Great post yogi

    I am 100% in favor of selling xhaka in January. I have never thought he was a good enough defensive player to be playing as the deepest midfield on a PL team. I agree that we didn’t get worse when xhaka was taken out of the line up. However in fairness to him we didn’t get better either. His replacements have not made our defense any more solid. The idea that xhaka was the problem all along and that Torriera and/or Guendouzi or Maitland-Niles as our defensive pivots would make the team a lot better is misguided at least based on the evidence we have seen so far. Again it’s time for xhaka to be sold because he could bring a transfer fee but we need to use the money to upgrade our midfield talent.

  5. Bill says:

    The fans react to what they see on the pitch. If the team plays up to a reasonable level of expectations they get excited and they get upset when the team doesn’t play as well and it’s results are not as good as expected. Fans can’t somehow drag the players out of the doldrums. That’s the opposite of the way the world works. Fans of every sports club in the history of the world react basically the same way and to expect Arsenal fans to be different and always be positive and happy no matter how poorly the players are performing is not reasonable or realistic.

  6. Welsh Corgi says:


    Not sure about that Bill. If Emery played Torreira as dm and not just for one game but as the dm maybe we’d see a different defence?

    Though until he does that I think it’s premature to say that the team hasn’t improved with Xhakas absence.

  7. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Nice write up YW. Agree we haven’t been any worse or any better with Xhaka’s omission. I’m hoping he might come back with a point to prove. We all love an outcast who comes back into the fold through their determination, commitment and will to win. I believe there is a good player in Xhaka, but his arrogance and lack of discipline let him down. For me he’s not athletic enough to martial our midfield, any way. We need a Doucouré or a player of that ilk. Like Viera, a box to box midfielder.

  8. TCEyes says:

    odds on Xhaka coming on as a sub and giving away a penalty tomorrow for Saints to nick a draw?

    cue total meltdown…

  9. Damon says:

    Personnel doesn’t matter anymore

    It’s the tactics. Our midfield looks shite because we give it away, which is a tactical direction from the coach.

    Get him out and get someone in the knows how this league works.

    Anyone talking about winning the Europa as way back to the top table either hasn’t been watching this season, or has something wrong with them

  10. Potter says:

    My thoughts on Xhaka are that basically he is not a defensive midfielder in the mode that we need . His abilities make him more of deep lying distributor . He is not mobile enough to cover the ground not just going forward but sideways too .
    He needs a Ray Parlour next him I.e. a worker that covers for him and allows him to take the ball from the back and play it forward. As things stand he doesn’t fit the system which means changing the players or changing the system.

  11. C says:


    Generally I would agree with all of that, and I rate Xhaka, but Jorginho is doing it for Chelsea which means, maybe its a Xhaka thing more than anything at this point. Kante has been out damn near the whole season, so its been Jorginho and Kovacic doing the job….isn’t that pair comparable to Xhaka and Guendouzi?

  12. Blue Yonder says:

    It would take a brave man to start Xhaka tomorrow. His only way back (if he has one) is via the Europa League. Emery has been hitching his wagon to a player who continually lets him down. Why?

  13. Blue Yonder says:

    For some unaccountable reason, I am expecting a much livelier performance against the Saints tomorrow. Partly, because this is a team we should beat with ease, and partly because, eventually, we must deliver the goods. If not tomorrow, then never under this manager.
    Emery’s speech suggests he may be getting it so we’ll see.

  14. G4E says:

    The difference between Us and the Spuds is they have an owner who won’t accept shit and Ours accepts any shit he can get so long as he doesn’t have to lose or spend money.

    My fear is we win 1-0 tomorrow and Unai lives to fight another day and so on and so forth…and we know how it ends. Europa League next season, etc., etc.

    We shall see tomorrow….Part of me wants him to lose so we can move on with something else, and part of me don’t want the team to lose again.

  15. Reloaded says:

    Oh how I so want to banish the memory but Boxing Day ’15 is forever fresh in my mind! It’s not just Xhaka that cant accept what happened. I believe Saints were in shite form leading up to gem of a match. Paired with the first game back from Internationals, this has the makings of a sh’+ show. Perhaps residual effects of nat’l team coaching might carry over for some and set us straight? l hope a quick night’s rest will sort me out. I’ll take another excuse laden clanger that expedites days to sacking but would be equally content with a 3pt haul at the final whistle. F’ing fans are the worst!

  16. Bill says:

    Personnel doesn’t matter anymore

    It’s the tactics.Our midfield looks shite because we give it away, which is a tactical direction from the coach.

    Get him out and get someone in the knows how this league works.

    Anyone talking about winning the Europa as way back to the top table either hasn’t been watching this season, or has something wrong with them


    If the players give the ball away and can’t control the midfield it’s down to the players not executing. Our midfield is easily in the bottom 1/2 of the league and there is almost nothing a manager is able to do from a tactical standpoint if his players can’t control the midfield

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