Former Arsenal midfielder and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has confessed that he is still unconvinced by Granit Xhaka's performances for the Gunners, and questioned the midfielder's positioning.
Swiss international Xhaka is one of many Arsenal players to have come in for severe criticism this season as the Gunners have faltered in the Premier League. Xhaka has started every league game this campaign, but remains largely unpopular among Arsenal fans.
Granite Xhaka's can't control the ball, can't defend, can't pass, can't read the game, offers close to nothing. Sorry I once compared him to Paul Pogba.— Danny Welbeck (@WelBeast) February 10, 2018
Xhaka did contribute to one bright spark in Arsenal's season, as he scored the winning goal against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final. But Merson said that even in scoring that goal, Xhaka was showing a worrying lack of discipline.
“I look at Xhaka the other week," said Merson on Sky Sports show The Debate. “He scored the winning goal against Chelsea. Everyone was going mad.
Xhaka must be the biggest waste of £35m in football history.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 10, 2018
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"My first thought was what are you doing in the box. He is a defensive midfielder.”
It seems an odd criticism for Merson to have made, seeing as Xhaka's goal against Chelsea may be a season-defining one for Arsenal. It took Arsene Wenger's team to Wembley, where they will face Manchester City.
Xhaka-elneny is a pairing that has the advantage of offering neither physicality nor dynamism.— YankeeGunner (@YankeeGunner) February 10, 2018
Arsenal are also in with a chance of winning the Europa League. They won 3-0 at Ostersunds FK on Thursday night, although they will have to overcome much sterner tests if they are to win their first European trophy since the 1993-94 Cup Winners' Cup.
Other competitions have not been so profitable for the Gunners. They are 8 points adrift of the top four in the Premier League, and were also knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest last month.