World Cup disappointment could augur well for Xhaka of all trades

/, granit xhaka, lucas torreira, mesut ozil, tomas rosicky/World Cup disappointment could augur well for Xhaka of all trades

World Cup disappointment could augur well for Xhaka of all trades

Despite the lack of marquee signings, the failure of the current Arsenal squad to make an impact at the 2018 World Cup could pay dividends for the team in the domestic campaign ahead.

There are two obvious reasons for this:

1. Players returning from a both physically and mentally draining international tournament rarely hit the ground running the following season. They are normally too exhausted to play at their best and often succumb to injuries, caused by fatigue.

2. Those that disappointed in the tournament or didn’t go to the World Cup will want to prove they have what it takes. Obviously, one of the players feeling like that is Jack Wilshere, who has just signed for West Ham. In that particular case, the Hammers will get the benefit of Wilshere’s sense of injustice. However, Arsenal still have the under-performing Granit Xhaka, whose critics are out in force again.

On the subject of Xhaka, it is interesting that the new boss singled Xhaka out for praise. You have to wonder how many Arsenal games Unai Emery got to watch, as the Switzerland international invariably disappointed. That is not to say that Xhaka has no talent; he clearly has something about him that convinced the club to offer him a new contract. At this stage in his career, the only impressive aspect of his stay at Arsenal is that he has stayed injury-free, playing in every Premier League game last season.

The problem is Xhaka is a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’. He is not exactly a pass-master, but he hit the odd good raking pass (albeit not an incisive one to open up a defence). Xhaka looks like he adds a physical presence to the midfield, although really he is just a specialist in giving away silly free kicks and picking up unnecessary cards. The Swiss does score spectacular goals on occasions, but these are few and far between. Xhaka even tracks back, to some extent.

This lack of tracking back brings me onto Mesut Ozil, who reminds me of Rosicky of old: except unlike ‘Little Mozart AKA The Great Pretender’, the Germany international does not fake his lack of defensive effort. Like Xhaka, Ozil’s World Cup was disappointing. However, on his day, Ozil is a match-winner. How many more Ozil days will Arsenal see, though? Now that Ozil has the coveted number 10 shirt, perhaps he can dig deep for the team in a way not seen before. The ability is there, without doubt, but it is up to Emery to get Ozil to apply himself. Although Ozil has signed a long-term deal, his commitment to the cause is questionable.

Interestingly, Emery did not mention Ozil when he first came to the club. Could this mean the German will be shipped out if he continues to fail to deliver? I would not be surprised.

Neither would I be surprised to see Aaron Ramsey leave for Manchester United this summer. The Welshman has not put pen to paper on a new deal, and after the debacle last season with Sanchez, Arsenal will not allow the same to happen with the midfield maestro.

At least, Arsenal are set to bolster their midfield with the arrival of a player who actually performed admirably at the World Cup: Lucas Torreira. He will be the odd man out at Arsenal in that respect, but it’s too soon to write off all the relative failures.

The new boss could be the one to get something out of Ozil and Xhaka. If Emery can do that, then Arsenal could challenge for a top-four spot again.

By | 2018-07-10T00:34:31+00:00 July 10th, 2018|aaron ramsey, granit xhaka, lucas torreira, mesut ozil, tomas rosicky|2 Comments

About the Author:

The Loose Cannon (TLC) is a labour of love set up by the former FromTheTerrace managing editor and freelance Sky News football pundit, Joe Broadfoot. I know I'm opinionated and a bit left-field, but other contributors are most welcome to send in their opinions, news pieces and so on regarding Arsenal FC for potential publication. Don't forget, if you've got something to write about Arsenal, it would be great to hear from you!


  1. Patrick Ssekatawa July 10, 2018 at 5:57 am - Reply

    Well, well, well. Here we go again with bandwagon criticism of our very own!! Fail, fail, fail is the word on the mouth of so many Arsenal supporters having their say on so many of their players!
    Allow me ask u, sir, who shined for Arsenal last season? As far as I’m concerned, none, bar Aubameyang who joined in the winter! So if it is criticism, it gas to be to the whole team, not just individual players as if they were the worst!

    One thing u people fail to understand is that Arsenal players were poorly coached or perhaps not coached at all and that’s the reason for their poor showings. Others were wrongly positioned! For instance, Xhaka is and will never be a defensive midfielder, but Wenger deliberately refused to buy a proper anchorman and forced the Swiss to play as one! That was a grave mistake! This explains why Unai Emery was quick to give him a new contract, but went on to pursue a DM in Torreira, who is about to be announced. This means the coach is going to deploy Xhaka very differently and we shall see a completely different player.

    Talking of cards, I don’t remember Xhaka being sent off last season, unlike the season before when he was dismissed I think three times! As u just mentioned, Xhaka played in all 38 league games, meaning he greatly improved discipline wise so much so that he never missed any league game due to suspension! So tell me, what cards did u mean?

    As for Ozil, u people are either naive, or just hate the boy. Statistically ranked just behind De Bruyne in terms of key passes, chances created and was in the top seven for assists last season. Perhaps u want to blame him for the misses his teammates register after he gives them good balls!

    A playmaker is made to look good if he has people around him to put away the chances he creates. Besides, not every player in the team must put their body on the line for team. Juan Roman Riquelme was one excellent playmaker at Villarreal, but he was never one to defend or run for the team! Zidane in the run up to the 2006 World Cup final, was France’s best player, but he would barely track back when France were out of position! At Villarreal, Manuel Pellegrini found a way of protecting Riquelme when his team was out of possession, and then he was the orchestra while in possession, and that is what Wenger failed to do!

    So, rather than being critical of your own players in a pedestrian manner, think a little tactically and help your readers on that front, rather than jumping on the bandwagon assessment of biased pundits like the Phil Neville’s of thus world. Thank u!

  2. Joe July 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Of course, you are right to believe that Emery may be able to get more out of Xhaka than was the case last season. While on the disciplinary front, obviously, we should celebrate the fact that Granit ‘only’ racked up 10 yellow cards last season, as at least there were no reds! That’s better than 5 yellows and 2 reds the previous season. However, it is his lack of brilliance in any particular area that makes me feel he’s not necessarily going to crack it at Arsenal. Meanwhile, Ozil’s tendency to miss important away games with what appear to be bogus injuries makes me think his days will be numbered. Then again, all that could change under a new boss.

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