Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

Positive, positive Arsenal

As I sit here on Sunday afternoon writing this I am in a relaxed and reflective mood.

A weekend of seeing family, a BBQ in the sun and then a pub lunch in Epping Forest on Sunday in the rain, I have had a cracking weekend even if it meant I missed going to The Arsenal.

And The Arsenal result has certainly helped with my mood.

After a tough two opening games for Unai Emery, we face West Ham on Saturday, winning 3-1 in what was a fairly rusty display.

Some tried to paint Emery as a man under pressure. I saw one journalist say he was “favourite for the sack race”, and that he was under tremendous pressure from the Arsenal fans.

It was certainly a case of the journalist trying to create a story rather than report the news.

The only people I have seen being super-negative about the start of the Emery-era are attention seeking wankers in social media.

Regardless of whether they were previously Wenger-In or Wenger-Out, there is an equal number abusing Emery for RTs and recognition. On both sides, thy have shown themselves as not true Arsenal fans and are best off ignored.

As for the game, I was not at it as have only seen brief highlights on Match if the Day.

From the 8 minutes of football I saw, the following observations were made:

  • Sokratis is the proper defender we have missed for a decade
  • There is a player in Granit Xhaka; he just needs to be used correctly
  • We need to play Lucas Torreira behind Xhaka
  • Mkhitaryan is a different player when Ozil isn’t playing

There are clearly some huge positives to be taken from the beginning of the Emery-era; even if it has taken 3 games to get the first positive result.

The difference between the Liverpool / Arsenal punditry made interesting listening too.

They heavily criticised Arsenal for sending both full backs forward, but then praised Liverpool for employing the same tactics and saying “thats the modern game”.

It highlights that the “expert” pundits will change their mind on tactics depending on what agenda they want to pursue.

In this case it was criticise Arsenal & praise Liverpool.

What would have been good is for someone to take the time comparing the way both sides set up.

The issue is not that Arsenal’s full backs bomb forward, but the lack of cover they get from their midfielders.

Liverpool played with Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner sitting.

Both men would cover outwide when their full backs bomb forward.

Manchester City use a different tactic, with Fernandinho sitting between the centre backs creating a back 3 when Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy bomb on.

Arsenal’s problem is, and has been probably since Gilberto Silva left the club, that no one in the middle of the park covers the full backs when the go forward.

It just further supports playing Torreira and Xhaka together.

A two man shield will mean that we can have a solid 4 men covering the full backs when the are in the opposition box.

It is all about balance.

Whilst I have mentioned Liverpool. They are top. 9 points from 9; and are being talked up as potential champions. The crown already on their head.

But they have played West Ham (h), Crystal Palace (a) & Brighton (h).

Some perspective is needed.

Last season, Arsenal were awful in finishing 6th. Yet they beat West Ham (h), Crystal Palace (a) & Brighton (h).

So had we had Liverpool’s opening 3 games this season in 2017/18, we would have been top of the league, 9 points out of 9.

This season I would expect Arsenal to win all 3 of the games Liverpool have – we have already won 1 of the 3.

We are 3 games into the season. Just like Arsenal were not a bad team after losing to Manchester City and Chelsea, beating West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton does not make Liverpool a great team.

Have a good bank holiday Monday and it is back to football on Sunday with a visit to Cardiff.

Let’s be positive and ignore those negative attention seekers.



England, Granit Xhaka & Liam Gallagher


Well that was not fun was it.

After plenty of excitement in the World Cup recently, England defeat was a boring defeat as both B teams struggled to try and win.

Eventually England lost, which might be good, but might be bad. We will find that one out once we play Columbia.

After the 6-1 win over Panama, England were back to their boring best.

Granit Xhaka

I have blogged a few times about how much I rate Granit Xhaka. That he is a top player. Just played out of position.

Since joining Arsenal two years ago, he has had to deal with a lot of criticism from fans and the media.

Xhaka gets a lot of blame for the team being set up unbalanced. He has never really played as the deepest central midfielder.

He needs to be allowed to press and be aggressive. Sitting deep never suited him. He does not deserve the abuse he gets.

At the World cup for Switzerland, he is playing in his more natural position, with a deeper midfielder behind him.

By having someone behind him will allow him to get further forward, to be more aggressive in the middle of the park, and know he has a safety net behind him.

Against Costa Rica he was terrific once more.

Some might say it was “only Costa Rica” but it was only Panama who Harry kane scored a hat trick against. It was only Costa Rica that England drew 0-0 with at the last World Cup.

Next season, with Lucas Torreira set to be behind him, I expexct a big season from the Swiss man.

Liam Gallagher

Anyone else off to see Liam Gallagher at Finsbury Park today? Should be plenty of Arsenal about taking into account its location.

Pity The George has now shut down as it would have been the ideal back street boozer for a few pre-gig pints that not many would know about. Plenty of Oasis, Stone Roses and Courteneers on the juke box. It would have gone off in there.

Instead it will probably be one of the upmarket bars on Upper Street around Canonbury.

LG is not due on until 9pm, so my bet is an afternoon boozing before heading in for between 6 & 7.

I went to Alexandra Palace when he was performing there, it was a top gig. But the great mans voice is going. I watched his performance at BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend and it was underwhelming as he struggled to project his vocals in a huge, outdoor arena.

Regardless, with Liam, it has never really been about his vocals and more about the performance. He is the greatest front man of my generation and I am buzzing for today.



Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil & England

Granit Xhaka

This morning we wake to news that Granit Xhaka could be in line for punishment after his goal celebration against Serbia.

The Swiss international made the sign of the Albanian Eagle when scoring in the World Cup.

For those that do not know, Swiss born Xhaka’s parents fled war-torn Yugoslavia before Xhaka was born. His father was a political prisoner for 3-and-a-half years

Xhaka Sr’s crime had been to take part in demonstrations against the communist central government in Belgrade.

Xherdan Shaqira, born in Kosovo, also made the same sign when he scored his goal.

Reports are that both men face a two match ban for making a “political symbol” but what a load of tosh.

They are proud of their Albanian / Kosovan heritage, and made a hand sign in support of Albania, in support of their parents. If the Albanian Eagle is a political symbol, then so is every national flag.

It is a symbol of their country. Like the English rose or Scottish thistle.

Would it be different if they were playing for Albania? Making the hand sign when they scored? Probably not.

FIFA have to understand that in a multi-cultural game where players often have duel-nationality or duel-loyalties.

Xhaka is a proud Swissman. He is also a proud Albanian.

If they are banned, will FIFA also ban Muslim players who pray after scoring a goal?

Mesut Ozil

So Mesut Ozil was made scapegoat after Germany’s defeat against Mexico and was dropped to the bench for the game against Sweden.

Ozil in Germany is a bit like Raheem Sterling in England.

He gets a lot of negative press, much of it unjustified, just because he is a little different to many of his team mates.

He is often labelled as “Muslim” and “Turkish” and criticised for not being passionate to play for the country.

This is a player who has 91 caps for his country and was their best player at the last World Cup.

Whilst he gets a lot of criticism, Thomas Muller escapes all criticism. It is not hard to work out the difference between the two.

Germany struggled to create in their 2-1 victory over Sweden. The same defensive frailties they showed against Mexico were on display last night. Ozil can not be to blame for Germany being poor defensively.


Struggled to get into the World Cup, but the buzz returned when Germany nearly went out yesterday. Add in Argentina’s struggles and it has been a horrendous tournament for the Old Enemies.

I am a proud Englishman. Whether it be cricket, rugby or lawn bowls, I will support England.

However the national football team I have always struggled with. Like many I struggle to cheer on Harry Kane and Dele Alli, or Gary Neville and John Terry. But I will cheer on England.

I was out in Lille when England were in France in 2016. We drank the city dry. It is up there with the best of Arsenal Euro-always.

So at 13:00, I will be in my garden, BBQ on, beer in hand, backing the boys.

C’mon England.