Arsenal’s poor start to the 2021-22 Premier League continued on Saturday when they were pummelled, bruised, and battered by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. After dismal losses to Chelsea and newly promoted Brentford earlier in the season, the Gunners suffered their third consecutive league defeat in as many outings. If there’s a single-player who typifies the direction Arsenal are currently heading, it’s certainly Granit Xhaka, who recently signed a contract extension till 2024. The 28-year-old has proved to be a loose cannon, whose reckless decisions have cost the club many times since his arrival. He was once again the villain on Saturday after receiving an avoidable red card for a dangerous challenge on a City player.
Granit Xhaka’s madness costs Gunners
Arsenal was already on the back foot before Xhaka’s red card, but the Swiss international’s outburst only made matters worse for his teammates.
Xhaka disappointed everyone, but Arteta’s reaction to this moment of crazy summed up Arsenal’s woes. Rather than putting Xhaka in his place, the Spaniard strolled off the pitch patting the midfielder on the back.
Worse, Arteta went on to defend Xhaka in his post-match press conference, instead blaming the referee:
“I am (angry) because of the consequences that it had to the team,” Arteta said after the game, as quoted by Sky Sports. I must say that the line we are being judged with is really, really thin because we have seen actions like that in the first two Premier League games, and nothing happened, so I am disappointed. I am very disappointed with the second goal because of the way that they allowed that goal.”
No player has received more red cards (4) than Granit Xhaka since making his Premier League debut for Arsenal at the start of the 2016/17 season.
Heading for an early shower. pic.twitter.com/VDXLoEmGIH
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 28, 2021
If you’re wondering what kind of message that sends, I believe it’s a clear display of weakness from the Arsenal manager, which explains the club’s current state of things.
Arsenal’s Transfer Policy under the Spotlight
One of the jokes circulating on social media is that Arsenal has spent more money this summer than any other team in Europe and yet has not improved.
While that is pure nonsense, when you consider the Gunners’ transfer policy in recent years, there is some truth to it. They have spent a lot of money on players, but their acquisitions have not been wise enough.
It is always a good idea to invest in development, but Arsenal needs proven players if they want to compete for titles. The club, on the other hand, appears to be stuck in the past and hesitant to go forward.
Xhaka is a classic example of a competent but not great player, and his ongoing presence at the Emirates reflects the club’s current situation. Despite proving time and time again that he is not good enough, the Swiss midfielder has been given a new contract.
With us right to the final whistle 👊
Thank you, Gooners ❤️ pic.twitter.com/fWX0TxY9XX
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 28, 2021
The Gunners, like Willian, Sead Kolasinac, and many others, may difficult to sell him in a year.
Arsenal are currently outside of the Premier League’s top six, and unless they amend their poor transfer approach, they will continue to fall further behind Europe’s greatest teams.