Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

How would long-term Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot fit in?

Long term reported Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot has announced that he is set to leave PSG on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old central midfielder was linked with Arsenal over 6 years ago; when he was just a 17-year-old who had yet to play a game.

Over the years, he has been in and out of the PSG team and missed out on France’s World Cup success after refusing to be put on the reserve list.

A tall, elegant central midfielder, he has never really fulfilled his potential that he showed as a teenager – with PSG preferring the midfield partnership of Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti as he struggled to break through.

Last season under Unai Emery he played 50 games – starting 27 in the league and 8 in the Champions League.  He has continued to be first choice under Thomas Tuchel.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave Arsenal as a free transfer, Arsenal could well see Rabiot is an indirect replacement.

Signing Rabiot would mean that Arsenal could cash in on Mohamed Elneny and line up with midfield options of:

Grant Xhaka
Lucas Torreira
Adrien Rabiot
Matteo Guendouzi
Ainsley Maitland-Niles

It would be an exciting group of central midfielders with plenty of strength and would more than cover Emery’s preference of playing 2 deep midfielders; with one out and out defensive and the other box-to-box in his favoured 4231 formation.

A sticking point would be as to what role Rabiot would play.

Emery has previously spoken about Rabiot being a defensive midfielder rather than a box-to-box; with the Frenchman believing he is more box-to-box.

Emery said: “Let’s talk about Rabiot. He’s a central midfielder, who is more comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder rather than a creative one. Even if he remains more of box-to-box, rather than a defensive midfielder.

“When you want to play with a defensive, creative and box-to-box-midfielders in fixed positions, Rabiot finds himself confronted to a problem. He has to run, run, run and not play in a fixed position statically. And even less so with his back turned on the action.

“Rabiot doesn’t really like playing as a defensive midfielder, he likes playing as a box-to-box, but I prefer him as a defensive midfielder. That’s why after the elimination against Real Madrid [in the 2017/18 Champions League], I told him he would play as a defensive midfielder.

“In that position, he can be faced with play and switch around with [Marco] Verratti. He is more competitive in these conditions. With certain players, you can’t impose a strict idea. You have to adapt yourself to their characteristics in order to win in individual and collective competitiveness.”

Another sticking point could be salary.

BeIN Sport reported earlier this month that Rabiot had turned down a new contract for a third time, with PSG reportedly offering him £6.32m a year to remain with the Ligue 1 champions. That works out to a little over £120,000 a week.

Granit Xhaka is reportedly on £90,000 a week; Lucas Torreira on £75,000 a week.

All 3 players are equally as talented, and would be in a fair fight for the 2 central midfield roles. What would it do to squad harmony if we bought Rabiot in on twice as much money (potentially) as Lucas Torreira?

Some will say that Rabiot is superior to Xhaka and therefore justifies the higher salary. However Emery is unlikely to see it that way.

Xhaka is box-to-box in the current set up, with Torreira as the more defensive option. Rabiot would more likely be competing with Torreira to play behind Xhaka.

Regardless, all 3 are close when it comes to their talent. To have vastly different salaries could be dangerous.

As seen, Rabiot would not be guaranteed a starting place at Arsenal. Himself, Xhaka and Torreira would be rotated – so would all still get plenty of game time. Would Rabiot go from regular starter at PSG to rotational starter at Arsenal?

A move for Rabiot would be a positive one for Arsenal. There are plenty of minutes to accommodate 3 top class midfielders and still find enough time to bleed through Matteo Guendouzi.

Guendouzi is still just 19 and would not have expected to have played so much this season – 9 starts in total in the league. He is still developing and is not yet at the standard of Rabiot, Torreira or Xhaka.

You can easily see a situation that in 3 years time, Arsenal cash in on a then 29-year-old Xhaka and promote Guendouzi. He will still be just 22-years-old (the same age as England’s next big talent Harry Winks is now!).

Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey & Torreira have started 44 league games between them this season; so it is clear that there are plenty of games to go around.

The one loser would be Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but he would still have a future at the club.

Firstly he is a home-grown talent; which is very important. Secondly he can cover central midfield, left and right back, and is competent on the flanks.

Maitland-Niles is still just 21. He would get plenty of game time in the cups and would get the odd league game. His future at Arsenal is as a utility man.

Would I sign Rabiot on a free? Yes

Keenos

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How will Unai Emery solve Arsenal defensive puzzle?

Unai Emery is facing a defensive puzzle.

With Rob Holding out for the season, yellow cards to both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi against Huddersfield means both are suspended for the game at Southampton on Sunday.

Not only does this give the Spaniard a headache for the Premier League match, but also disrupts his planning for the visit of Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Thursday’s game would have been used to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a run out. Get 90 minutes of senior football under their belts after long lay offs.

Koscielny would have most certainly started at centre back, with Monreal at left back. The problem now for Arsenal is that with Sokratis and Mustafi now out, the pair are now likely to be our central defensive partnership against Southampton.

So what does this mean for Thursday?

Does Emery continue with the rehabilitation of Monreal and Koscielny by giving them 90 minutes against Qarabagm hope they both get through and hope recover quickly enough for Southampton at Sunday lunch time?

Or does he play Sokratis and Mustafi (injury permitting) against Qarabag, keeping Koscielny and Monreal out of danger for Sunday.

The fear will be against Qarabag, the one of either Koscielny or Monreal picks up a little niggle ruling them out of Sunday. This is highly likely. Small injuries often occur after a long lay off. And even if they do both get through unscathed, are either yet fully fit enough to play 90 minutes twice in less than 3 days?

Arsenal were already without first choice U23 pairing Daniel Ballard and Julio Pleguezuelo, as well as Kostadinos Mavropanos. This would mean that if either Koscielny or Monreal were to not fit for Sunday, either 18-year-old Zech Medly would start, or Arsenal would have to move either Stephan Lichtsteiner or Granit Xhaka into the back four.

Logic dictates that you do not involved Koscielny or Monreal against Qarabag. It would also make sense to not play Sokratis if Mustafi’s hamstring injury is to rule him out of further games.

So Medley and Big Carl Jenkinson it is then/

Keenos

Arsenal punished due to refereeing inconsistency

Referee Paul Tierney was completely correct in booking Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Matteo Guendouzi for diving.

We have to remember that a dive is not just feigning contact. FA rules state:

Diving is defined as an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by falling to the ground and possibly feigning an injury, to give the impression that a foul has been committed.

Just because their has been contact, it does not mean that a foul has been committed. All too often, a player go’s to ground with minimal contact, rolls about feigning injury, exaggerating the contact, in the hope of gaining an advantage.

FIFA call this “simulation”. Just because you might have been touched, it does not give you a right to go down. If the contact was not enough to impede you, then it is not a foul. If, at the slightest brush, you then decide to go down instead of remain on your feet, you should be booked for diving.

Unfortunately, when it comes to diving, referee’s in England tend to be very inconsistent.

Against Huddersfield on Saturday, Tierney followed the rules of the game, booking Xhaka, Mustafi and Guendouzi. The problem is all too often referees wave play on.

We often see Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, and others go down with little to no contact. The referee waves play on a we get on with the game. Against Leicester on Saturday Dele Alli feigned injury to give an impression that a foul had been committed. The referee in that game waved play on.

So Arsenal (rightly) got 3 players booked – one of which will lead to a suspension – whilst other players never get punished as referee’s wave play on.

Against Tottenham, Son Heung-min went down to win a penalty. Rob Holding lunged into a challenge, and made zero contact with the South Korean.

The media response was that due to Holding sliding in, Son had a right to go down. He did not. He cheated. He went down with no contact (or at most minimal) and rolled about feigning injury. He should have been booked. Instead the referee gave a penalty.

Mistakes happen, but what has happened since just highlights the inconsistency of the FA.

November last year, Everton’s Oumar Niasse was banned for 2 games having been deemed to have deliberately attempted to con referee Anthony Taylor to give a penalty.

The FA charged Niasse with “successful deception of a match official” and an Independent Regulatory Commission was unanimous in its decision to ban the Senegalese.

After the game, Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann (who made the challenge) said the referee had been “conned”.

 “I don’t like to see people getting punished but also I don’t like people diving to win penalties. [Niasse] probably knows he has conned them.

“If there was [contact] it was minimal. I haven’t tried to tackle him; he has gone past me and you can see on the replays he has dived. At half-time, [Taylor] probably knew he made the wrong decision.”

Replays showed that there was contact between Dann and Niasse, but it was extremely minimal. The Holding incident with Son was similar. If there was contact it was minimal.

Yet a week on from that game, Son has not been charged by the FA – let alone given a 2-game ban like Niasse. Meanwhile Arsenal have 3 players booked for similar incidents. Mustafi now suspended after reaching 5 yellow cards.

The incidents involving Xhaka and Mustafi had a similar level of “contact” as Son against us last weekend.

If the FA believe Xhaka and Mustafi were dives why have they not charged and suspended Son?

Too often they hide behind what the referee has “seen” and “not seen”. Were Xhaka and Mustafi incorreclty booked? Probably not. Should Son have been suspended for 2 games? Well the precedent is there with Niasse.

Further inconsistency was shown on Wednesday.

Marouane Fellaini pulled Guendouzi back by his hair. A similar incident happened back in 2016 when Robert Huth pulled back Fellaini by his hair. Huth was banned for 3 games.

In the incident with Guendouzi, Fellaini has escaped any retrospective action.

Now some will say you are only moaning because it is Arsenal and you are right, I am moaning because it was Arsenal. But up and down the country every weekend fans of clubs are complaining about referee decisions. We are all affected by it. The quicker VAR comes in the better.

All fans want is consistency.

Keenos