Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

Another Year another exit in the Knockout Stages

Mustafi and Xhaka
Mustafi and Xhaka disappointing signings so far this season

Watched Arsenal lose 5 1 again to Bayern tonight and I must commend myself on achieving such a feat more of a masochist aka Arsenal fan. My mate an Arsenal fan who chose to nap instead of watching the game woke up checked his phone and thought he hadn’t refreshed the scores of two weeks ago couldn’t believe it was 5 1 again!

The referee no doubt was rubbish, crap, inept, I mean any word youcan think of that explains inefficiency but it’s still wasn’t a reason to capitulate and concede 5 in 45 minutes because you are a man down especially when you had rehearsed two weeks ago for this situation at the Allianz arena.
It’s an ideal night to scapegoat some players and I am deciding to do just that this time. The clubs most expensive acquisitions this season Mustafi and Xhaka showed again they have not added to this team or taken it up a notch in anyway , both directly responsible for two goals tonight. Players ghost past Xhaka so easily in the middle of the field and he is so one footed it’s unbelievable! Mustafi on the other hand can’t anticipate or read games he just loves a slide. He was directly responsible for two goals in this Bayern tie, for all the money he costs he is not better than Gabriel in my opinion.
I would love to see an Ox Ramsey midfield and Holding paired with Koscielny or Mertesacker reinstated because Mustafi for what he cost he isn’t doing it at all! Using Arsene’s lingo I am not very lucid tonight so I will be more emotive than analytical and to the fans chanting Arsene you are killing our club or something along those lines they should visit Blackburn or Leyton Orient for the definition of killing a club.
It’s a short one tonight still recovering from having 2 wisdom teeth taken out yesterday then add today’s performance to that feeling. I feel it’s Arsene’s last time managing Arsenal in the Champions League tonight but hey what do I know I put 10 pounds on Arsenal qualifying tonight so there you go.

Return of the Old Arsenal

Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring his team's second and winning goal against Arsenal Photo credit OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring his team’s second and winning goal against Arsenal
Photo credit OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

I have just finished watching the City Arsenal game at the Etihad and can’t say I have seen a poorer Arsenal second half performance than what I have just watched in a long time, it’s like they all stayed in the dressing room after half time. I was chatting to a friend over in the middle east during the game and he was saying the losses have coincided with Mustafi’s absence, which I agreed with to a point but his absence can’t be responsible for the lack of bravery from Arsenal and how they fell apart like a two dollar suitcase. There were so many bad displays in that half if I listed them this would end up being a very very long blog.

I spotted a similarity in the loss at Everton and today’s loss at the Etihad; once the pressure and aggression was ramped up by Everton and City today the Arsenal boys went hiding, they weren’t brave and didn’t fight, Coquelin looked like he was alone in the midfield as Granit Xhaka couldn’t manage with the pace. I am here listening to Thiery and Graham discussing both goals being offiside or not on Skysports and honestly that’s not the issue if you ask me. Arsenal taking anything away from this game would have certainly masked the mental deficiencies in this team and I don’t know how Arsene fixes that. They were second to everything all over the park in that second half, and there can be no excuse for physically dropping off because of the Champions league participation as Arsene is trying to imply in his post match conference referring to playing Basel in CL before these away games because City too have been involved in the Champions league.
I can’t say I am surprised because over the years and being an Arsenal fan who has been scarred so many times you know Arsenal have these kind of performances in their locker but a part of me was hoping it was a thing of the past. You can’t always win but you have to leave everything on the pitch and I can’t say I saw that today, they left it all in the dressing room at half time it seems.

I try not to join the angry brigade and doom sayers after a loss or two especially when it comes to Arsenal, proclaiming the season is over but honestly where does the team go from here after losing both games in very similar circumstances? The manner in which they lost both games is familiar like every season since the invincibles and it seems to me the old fragile Arsenal tag will continue lurk around Arsene’s present team regardless of winning streaks and continuously ending up with nothing, until he himself sees it as an issue that needs to be addressed and fast.

 

 

Jack Wilshere’s Gamble not paying off

jackw

It was interesting to watch England’s friendly against Spain and see how fluid and resilient the midfield was without Jack Wilshere. There was a time when Jack wasn’t in the team the commentators would bemoan his absence and I can’t say I remember the commentators doing that today because there was no need to. I
was actually thinking to myself how the midfield looked solid without Dele before I spotted Jack on the bench where he spent the entire match.

Moving to Bournemouth because he was snubbed by Big Sam for an England call up looks more shortsightedness than foresight to me with every passing game week . I have watched him play at Bournemouth and he has looked quite ordinary to me.I can understand his need to play but he was coming back from injury and was always going to come off the bench till he was deemed fit to start and in an Arsenal team with a great track record for injuries he was always going to get a chance to stake his claim to a starting spot at some point in the season. I would have expected him to have stayed and fight for his place.

Reading this interview  I found this bit telling;
There were a lot of midfielders and the manager brought another one in,” he added. ‘I’d been injured for a while, and I was thinking I was at a stage of my career where I needed to play.”
Sounds like Granit Xhaka being added to the fold probably made him doubt his chances of playing even more.

Time will tell if going to Bournemouth is the right step and maybe I am being shortsighted by calling it a shortsighted move but with Adam Lallana in good form for club and country and Dele Alli to return I honestly don’t see a space for Jack in the England starting eleven at the moment, a major reason why he left to get game time at Bournemouth in the first place. He was in the squad this international break and didn’t feature in either game.

Arsene Recruiting Leaders

Arsene recruiting leaders

Apologies about the missed posts, been struggling with server reliability and compatibility issues.  The transfer madness is over and thank goodness real football news can take centre stage again.

Talking transfers Arsenal signed Granit, Robert, Lucas and Shkodran,  all very good signings if you ask me. While I haven’t been entirely happy in the manner in which the club has gone about acquiring some of its targets I am pleased with the business done.  Looking at the new recruits particularly Granit, Lucas and Shkodran, they have something that has been lacking in the team for a while now; leadership and character.
I have always said more than anything I was more concerned about the mentality of the players at Arsenal FC than the price tag of players being recruited by the club. The collapse at Southampton on boxing day last season, the last minute draw at Liverpool last season, losing to an under strength Manchester United team at Old Trafford last season and the second half collapse against Liverpool on opening day this season are indicative of the lack of leaders in the team particularly when the team encounters difficult spells in a game. The acquisition of Granit, Shkodran and Lucas addresses these shortcomings in the spine of the team; at the back in midfield and upfront. This video of Lucas playing against Barcelona I came across reading one of Arseblog’s post  brought a very wide smile to my face. The guy is not shy to have a go at team mates when they are slacking and believe me the likes of the Ox and Theo need it! Not completely Diego Costa but he has a bit of it in there and that’s not a bad thing,  Granit and Shkodran are captains of their previous teams too.

From what I have seen of the new recruits and in theory there is a balance to the Arsenal team and depth( Mr Injury please stay away!). I still stand by my predictions for the season regardless but I am more comfortable with this team than the one that started the campaign

Jack has pushed for a move to Bournemouth to get more playing time, I think it’s a good move where the he will have to deal with the pressure of being the go to guy, the guy to make things happen. This will not only benefit his football playing skills but his leadership qualities too. I do wish him the best in his bid to discover his fitness and confidence, definitely in my fantasy league team post “interlull” (another arseblog contribution).

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4, we all saw that coming except Arsene!

Arseneee

This post is going to be a bit long so grab a cup of tea or something a bit stronger.
I got up yesterday with some optimism about yesterday’s game I don’t know why… so I messaged my brother an Arsenal fan who lives in the middle east saying  “Arsenal would win today with a clean sheet too” his response was “have you been drinking port?”, because of my new found love of port he assumed I had to be drunk with such Arsenal proclamations. You see I tend to be one of those that err on the side of optimism when Arsenal is concerned maybe too much at times. So when Theo scored I was tempted to send him a message saying I told you so but wanted Arsenal to hold the lead to halftime before I engaged in some boasting although I did send him a message along the lines of “you can see Arsene is not mad he knows what he’s doing” . Shortly after that message left my phone Arsenal conceded that brilliant goal from Coutinho’s free kick then I got his message back saying watch and see them collapse and boy was he right with that second half performance from Arsenal. Then he threw my statement back at me asking if I was standing by my Arsene is not mad proclamation. Of course I am standing by it but ermm let’s see..

For the past 9 seasons I can’t remember a season where It hasn’t been a case of Arsenal need just 2 or three signings and they will be challenging for the title, that has been the talk since the Emirates move and the dismantling of the Invincibles. 10 years on we are still saying the same thing! Graeme Souness said yesterday you move to a big ground like the Emirates to compete in the league of the big boys, but seems to me Arsene wants to eat his cake and have it, earn revenues of the boys in the big league and bleat poverty like he’s still at a small ground like Highbury. As a Tottenham (pretend you didn’t see that Arsenal fans) fan pointed out to me  yesterday Arsenal’s matchday gate takings of 3 million pounds is the highest in any ground in the world, add to that the largest cash reserve anywhere in club football it just doesn’t make sense how they have gone about the transfer business in a season that’s looking to be the most competitive. The problems from last season were evident and a proactive club that meant business would have gone out and resolved these issues at the earliest, but it seems to me that since the xhaka purchase which is a good buy but not the highest in the scale of our priorities Arsene and Ivan are waiting for sales and bargains in the closing days of the transfer season. To me that’s just indicative of profits being prioritised over a genuine desire to be competitive in the league.

Yesterday’s result was expected by many Arsenal fans and they were waiting to give Arsene a piece of their mind. I have always backed him to the hilt and a part of me thinks he deserved what he got yesterday from the fans even if I feel sad saying it. He set himself up for that and he is playing an active part in turning the fans on the players so early in the season, those guys don’t buy themselves or pick themselves for the team he does. Considering he was backed by a majority of the fans in that protest game last season, I think he is taking that grace for granted. Arsenal fans are not asking Arsene to make Pogba like signings but to invest in the squad and make it competitive. A defender and a striker was a priority going into this season, with 16 days to go in the transfer window a club with Arsenal’s resources is still yet to secure either of the two positions. There is nothing wrong with trust in your players but there is something like misplaced trust. At times I wonder what has happened to Arsene. This is the same guy that got rid of Ian Wright and Patrick Viera because he had his own vision of what he wanted for his team and was ruthless enough to make the changes when he deemed it fit. Now the same man bought an old decommissioned  Sylvestre from  Manchester United when Arsenal needed a proper centre back, endorses mediocrity by letting players who have performed below par in the team ahead of players who have performed better when they have been called upon, I am talking of Campbell being on the bench for Walcott and the Ox.

Holding and Chambers should never have been at the heart of the defence yesterday it was all due to indecision and lack of planning. I have always said solving those problem positions is not enough either. The mentality at Arsenal needs to be fixed and the team needs leaders. Why was a team so compact in the first half disintegrate when Liverpool exerted pressure for 20 minutes? I am still wondering if it were Arsenal leading at 4 1 and it came back to 4 3 , would they have held on to still win? The 3 3 result at Anfield last season says no!

I end with this big players who want to win things and not just after a big pay packet will ask themselves several questions when approached by Arsene. Sanchez and Ozil are entering into the final two years at Arsenal and with the knowledge of how rich the club is and a reluctance to invest in the team I am not sure they will be itching to renew their contracts. It’s 16 days to the end of this transfer window and the summer bargains Arsene and Ivan were looking for is certainly not going to materialise now that the whole world is privy to their needs, whoever they approach they will have to cough up an extra 10 to 15 million pounds above what is already an inflated price tag. If you keep doing the same things and expect different result is the definition of what?…

Arsene is not crazy he is just stubborn, like the Tottenham fan said to me yesterday (sorry guys yes it has gotten that bad putting a spurs fans comments twice in my post) Arsene came to England and changed English football, the game has then moved forward since his coming and Arsene has refused to adapt or evolve with it too.

 

Rob Holding

Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com
Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com

It’s way past my bedtime because I stayed up to watch the Arsenal pre-season friendly against the MLS all stars which ended in a 2 1 Arsenal victory. Joel Campbell with a goal from the penalty spot and Chuba Akpom with a tap in from a Monreal assist the winner with just 4 minutes to go.

It was an opportunity to check out the new boy Holding and I will say I was very pleased. I had a good feeling about his signing and he didn’t disappoint in  this friendly, he almost scored a header which would have been the icing on the cake of a very accomplished debut.  He played the whole 90 minutes where he was strong on the ball, composed in possession, a good reading of the game, a good header and showed good  ball playing skills with how he went about his business.  There is just something about him that fills me with confidence even though I know it was just a preseason friendly, but all I can say is the omens are good for this lad. At just 20 and straight from Bolton after his debut season there is perception that he is raw and might find this level a bit too much, but as long as he is not over played like Arsene did with Chambers in his first season I am a believer that Rob Holding will blossom into a very good central defender. If you are good enough you are old enough they say and I think Holding will fall into that category, I can feel myself getting too excited I should calm down.. I blame all the chocolate and sprite I had an hour ago.  I look forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses, In my mind I have this idea that Arsene is hoping that someday in the not too distant future Chambers and Holding will the first choice centre backs at Arsenal, time will tell.

Before I go to bed I will also mention Walcott’s uninspiring showing. I am not a Walcott basher and I know it’s only preseason but he needs to get the finger out and start engaging his football brain. His passing and decision making were all over the place and  I sense he knows within himself that he is on borrowed time and very replaceable. A section of Arsenal fans also seem to be fed up with him judging by the amount of interaction my post about Walcott during the game got on the Arsenal facebook page. For his sake and the club I really do hope things pick up for him, because a consistent and firing Walcott makes us more difficult to play against.

Granit Xhaka when he came on showed his good passing range with accuracy and let’s not forget that mean left foot, I hope his superpower of taking shots outside the penalty box is not curbed by playing for Arsenal.

It’s bedtime now, need to get some snooze before I am woken by the kids…

 

Granit Xhaka, Do Arsenal really need him?

 

Moenchengladbach's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka celebrates after the German first division Bundesliga football match Moenchengladbach on December 5, 2015.   AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ
Moenchengladbach’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka celebrates after the German first division Bundesliga football match Moenchengladbach on December 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ

I am not one to fret over Arsenal transfers these days knowing who is in charge. I have decided to adopt the zen posture as one of my mates call it and wait till September 1st and see who the clubs buys, was close to buying but didn’t buy or bid 50p above the release clause for. I have concluded to adopt this approach considering my experience with Arsene and transfers over the years. Borrowing LVG’s vocabulary I have to be masochistic to continue to bother myself about something I have no ounce of control over even if it has nothing to do with pulling of hair.

Talking about Granit Xhaka, if the whispers in the media are to be believed, it seems he is of great interest to Arsenal and for the fee that his services will command and the position that he plays I am surprised he is on Arsenal’s radar. I have looked him up a bit and nothing strikes me enough to think Arsenal are desperate for a defensive midfielder that costs 40million Euros! He is not a goal machine and neither is his passing accuracy of 85% in the Bundelisga higher than Coquelin or Elneny who boast higher passing accuracies in the Premier League of 89.1% and 92.8% respectively according to whoscored.com

That sort of money should be added to and used in acquiring the services of someone a lot better than Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck who make up the club’s current striking options. From my little views of clips of him here and there I don’t see what he does that Coquelin and Elneny can’t do well either.
Unless Arsene is planning to transform him into some hybrid of Pires and Viera I actually don’t see the necessity for this acquisition.

What cost Arsenal the title this season was scoring GOALS and that creative spark in the final third to get through defences! Arsene if you are reading don’t do it! Add to that cash and go after Lukaku, Morata, Higuain, Reus or Lacazete.  I am hoping it’s a clever diversion to a much prized acquisition though.