In the eyes of many, Arsenal’s £35 million signing Granit Xhaka has had an underwhelming debut campaign in London.
Collecting eight yellow and two red cards and sitting out seven games through suspension, he has carried his Bundesliga reputation to England as observers view him as a hothead who hardly bothers about the repercussions of lunging into a two-footed tackle.
Given his two screamers early in the season and exquisite forward passes, the Emirates Stadium faithful have been reluctant to brand him a lost cause though a sizable chunk of those have already given up on the idea of Aaron Ramsey and struggling Bournemouth loanee Jack Wilshere realizing their potentials.
Needs more time for a proper evaluation
In the cases of the oft-denigrated British midfielders, it is safe to assume familiarity has bred contempt, but the opposite can hardly be said about the Swiss, who earned a place in the Bundesliga Team of the Season only last season.
He has hardly been fantastic, but a season that has witnessed even Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech come under scrutiny shall never be utilized as a measure of a debutant’s ability.
In Santi Cazorla’s absence, Arsene Wenger has been forced to deploy him as the deepest midfielder with Francis Coquelin pressing high up the field.
Thanks to his subpar tackling ability, he has given away numerous avoidable free-kicks this season.
Despite his otherwise respectable defending ability, his performances have suggested that he should never be the most defensive player ahead of the backline.
Alongside an N’Golo Kante is where he can be the most effective against stellar sides as he can then proceed to spark quick counters, finding the wingers in unconventional areas through pinpoint long balls; additionally, playing alongside a slightly more defensively disciplined Aaron Ramsey can obliterate less-than-stellar sides such as West Bromwich Albion.
Not the end of the road
As things stand, though, he finds himself offered an unfamiliar role, thereby failing to make an impact in his debut season.
However, it is not the end of the road as, at 24, he still has four more years on his contract to salvage his Arsenal career.
Many label his temperament as the primary hindrance to his development although the same persons had ironically pigeonholed the Arsenal sides soft and devoid of passionate individuals who would seldom stand up for their teammates in the past.
With his major perceived flaw being an area that can definitely be worked upon, he can turn out to become the finished product many had already thought he was.
One shall also note that a few of his cards have come on the back of rather soft offences that, on another day, would not have resulted in his getting on the referee’s books; thus, his tackling has not been as terrible as it is made out to be although there definitely is room for improvement.
Legend has it that the Arsenal manager has put pen to a one-year extension.
With this season’s absentees returning to the fold, perhaps, he will build a formidable midfield with the underperforming midfielder who had cost him as much as Alexis Sanchez for his successor to adopt.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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