Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown feels Granit Xhaka must iron out his disciplinary record and improve his tackling otherwise further red cards could put his Arsenal career in jeopardy.
The Swiss midfielder is currently serving a four match ban for a second red card of the season picked up against Burnley on Sunday, and has shown his ineptitude with tackling after conceding two penalties already this season and has made several poor decisions in Arsenal’s third.
He will miss this weekends FA Cup trip to Southampton, in which footballbets.tips are suggesting Arsenal will be in for a difficult evening, while the combative midfielder will also sit out crucial ties against Watford, Chelsea and then Hull City.
Arsene Wenger revealed rather harshly in his pre-match press conference that Xhaka “is not naturally a great tackler,” a concerning admission considering the midfielder has often played a deep role to help protect Arsenal’s back four.
Keown believes the Frenchman is the man to iron out Xhaka’s creases, and focus the Switzerland international on staying on his feet. If the midfielder continues to get his marching orders, his relatively new Arsenal career could be at stake if he costs the team with his ill-discipline.
“With both of his red cards for Arsenal this season, Xhaka cleaned out his opponent with no chance of winning the ball. The 24-year-old needs to eradicate that mentality from his game,” Keown said in the Daily Mail.
“He must also practise one-v-one situations with players running at him in training so he can learn how to slow them down before tackling them. … Xhaka cannot go on like this. He needs to get out of the habit of trying to win the ball straight away. If he keeps getting sent off then it will only shorten his stay at Arsenal.”
Xhaka’s red against Burnley is particularly infuriating considering the lack of midfielder’s available at present. However his first dismissal against Swansea was bizarre and certainly did not warrant a straight red. His discipline record this season isn’t actually that poor (when you remove the ridiculous sending off v the Swans), but it’s the numerous poor decisions that have resulted in either goals or free-kicks in dangerous positions that is a particular concern.
One only has to look at the odd sliding tackle where he completely missed the attacker against Burnley that left us wide open for a counter, or the two very poor penalties he conceded against Stoke City and Bournemouth respectively.
The Swiss midfielder is obviously a very tidy player with immense potential, but playing so deep is certainly not his position unless he can learn to curb his enthusiasm and not dive in so often until he learns to time his tackles.
What are your thoughts Gooners? Share them below..