Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

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.



Lucas Torreira, Mo Elneny & Grant Xhaka

Lucas Torreira

Saw a few fans during yesterday’s game between Egypt and Uruguay question how good Lucas Torreira must be if he “can’t even get into his national team”.

As the majority of us at England fans, is this view not a little arrogant? And extremely ignorant.

Uruguay are ranked 14th in the world. That is just one place below England – a side which Jack Wilshere can’t even get into the squad for.

They are ranked above the likes of Holland, Italy, Columbia and Croatia.

Ahead of him in the Starting XI is Rodrigo Bentancur. The 20 year old had a break through season for Juventus last season, who secured first option to sign him when he was just 17.

Also ahead of him is 26 year old Matías Vecino, who Inter Milan paid €24m for last summer.

Let’s not pretend this Uruguay is a poor team. They have an array of talented young midfielders, including Nahitan Nández (22) and Giorgian De Arrascaeta (24).

It is no shame that Torreira did not start.

Uruguay are not exactly Scotland or Republic of Ireland. They are a good outfit.

Mohamed Elneny

One player who did start the game was Egypt’s Mo Elneny.

He put in the solid if unexceptional performance that he has become known for.

If Arsenal do go ahead next year and play 3 in the middle of the park, Elneny has to be in with a shout if being the deepest of those 3.

He covers a lot of ground, is disciplined and defensive aware.

You do not win the league with 11 Lionel Messi’s. You need a Sergio Busquet’s or Fernandinho.

Elneny can do that job (although it would be good to also secure Torreira so that we have competition in the area.

Granit Xhaka

Not everyone’s cup of tea but Granit Xhaka signing a new contract is great news for the club.

With Jack Wilshere looking like he is off and Aaron Ramsey still yet to sign a contract, Xhaka is a man who the modified can be built around.

Still just 25, Unai Emery needs to get the balance of the midfield right to get the best out of the Swiss international.

Signs Lucas Torreira could be just what is needed to allow Xhaka to excel.

A midfield 3 of:

Xhaka Torreira Ramsey

Has a lot of balance to it.

Since joint 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.

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.

I am predicting that Xhaka playing the ball from deep over the top to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be a route for a lot of goals next season.


How does Lucas Torriera fit into Arsenal?

By now you all would have seen the Big Dave Ornstein news from a few last night.

That Arsenal are in talks to sign Uruguayan defensive midfielder Lucas Torriera.

Usually when Ornstein tweets, the deal is not too far from being done, so we can afford ourselves to consider just how the Sampdoria midfielder will fit in at Arsenal.

Signing Lucas Torriera would support my view that we will play 3 in the middle next year;

Xhaka Torreira Ramsey

Ahead of them will be a narrow two of Mesut Ozil and Henrik Mkhitaryan, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top.

The midfield 3 will give us a lot more balance and defensive stability than we had last season when we often played two.

It will give Aaron Ramsey the licence to get forward and attack the opponents box. It will also free him to press high up the field, putting pressure on the opponents deep lying midfielders.

With Ramsey getting forward alongside Ozil and Mkhitaryan, it will over load the opponents who will struggle to defend against all 3 – probably forcing them to bring a centre back out of shape create space for Aubameyang behind.

Ramsey will be free to press forward knowing that he has Granit Xhaka and Torriera sitting behind him, in front of the back 4

With both men having the ability to play from deep, it will give the defenders two options when passing the ball out.

Opponents will not as easily be able to pick off us transitioning the ball from defence to attack with both Torriera and Xhaka. Last season, if they stuck a man on Xhaka, it forced us long, or into mistakes.

Torreira will move Xhaka forward one, allowing him to press higher and be more influential on the ball.

Last year he was often caught out trying to press high, leaving too much of a gap between defence and midfield.

He will be free to do a similar job next season, but know that there is an extra player behind the him to sweep up to mistakes (instead of opponents being straight at the back 4 when he gives the ball away).

Xhaka has always been at his best for club and country when he has had another midfielder behind him. He has never really been the deepest of the midfielders.

Xhaka will also have to be the muscle in the midfield.

Torriera is tiny so Xhaka will have to ensure he does not get bullied. A similar role to what Matic used to do alongside Kante when Chelsea won the title.

I would be a liar if I pretended to know anything about Torriera, but in the little bit of research I have done, he will bring balance to a midfield.

It will also leave us with a second string trio of:

Elneny AMN Wilshere

So plenty of options, plenty of flexibility.

We now just need to get the deal over the line.