By 90Min
September 27, 2019

It's Granit Xhaka's birthday, and you know the Arsenal man is having a good day after he was named as the club's permanent captain. How's that for a birthday present?

Xhaka is no stranger to gifts, having regularly gifted his opponents with goals and points out of the blue. Maybe he's just generous, or maybe he is a mistake waiting to happen.

Here are seven presents he's given other teams during his Arsenal career. Happy Birthday.


Disasterclass vs Crystal Palace

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After Arsenal fell to a 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace in April 2017, the Gunners were criticised for their shambolic performance, and their struggles were perfectly summed up by a short clip of Xhaka.

In acres of space in attack, Xhaka proceeded to fire the ball directly at the only defender who was anywhere near him, and then managed to slip over in slow motion as he tried to get back.

It did not lead to a goal, but it was perhaps the perfect summary of Xhaka's career at the Emirates Stadium. A real gift for anyone watching.


Ball Watching vs Watford

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2017 was a rough year for Xhaka. In October, he watched Arsenal throw away a lead to lose 2-1 against Watford. He literally watched it.


With 92 minutes on the clock and the two teams tied at 1-1, Xhaka found himself outside the penalty area with Tom Cleverley. The Watford man began to jog into the box, and eventually pounced on a rebound to fire home, but Xhaka - the man who was a matter of yards away just seconds ago - was nowhere to be seen.

It turned out he was just stood completely still outside the box, staring directly at Cleverley as he netted the winner. Not feeling it that day, Granit? That's alright, nobody actually wants their defensive midfielder to defend anyway.


Missing Paul Pogba vs Manchester United

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Arsene Wenger went for quite a youthful side when Arsenal faced Manchester United in April 2018, so he will have wanted Xhaka to take responsibility and lead by example. Of course, that's not how it went down.

Early in the game, with Paul Pogba running towards him, Xhaka went flying into a challenge with real power, but Pogba just sidestepped him like he wasn't even there. Xhaka was nowhere near the ball.

Pogba waltzed into the penalty area to net the opening goal in the 2-1 win, whilst Xhaka picked himself up and watched, pulling up his socks as the ball hit the back of the net.


Bizarre Dummy vs Wolves

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When Wolverhampton Wanderers visited Arsenal in November 2018, the Gunners knew they could not afford to give the visitors any opportunities to counter attack. Maybe somebody should have told that to Xhaka.

In the early stages of the game, Sead Kolasinac passed the ball to Xhaka who, in his own half, inexplicably decided to dummy the ball and allow it to roll past him. Wolves' Ivan Cavaleiro ran on to it and eventually went on to net the opener.

Arsenal grabbed a late equaliser through Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but that again felt like a game the Gunners could have won.


Shocking Header vs West Ham

Marc Atkins/GettyImages

The London derby between Arsenal and West Ham is always one of the most fiercely contested games of the season, but the meeting between the two sides in January 2019 was one to forget for Xhaka.

Shortly after the half-time break and with the game still goalless, West Ham whipped a tame cross into the box which was met by Xhaka. Unfortunately, he put absolutely no power on his clearance whatsoever and it almost looked like he intentionally passed it to Samir Nasri.

Nasri laid the ball off to Declan Rice to fire in the game's only goal, and fans were furious that Xhaka had again been directly responsible for Arsenal losing points.


Misplaced Pass vs Portugal

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Don't worry, Arsenal fans, it's not just at club level that Xhaka makes these mistakes. Switzerland know all about them as well.

The Swiss met Portugal in the UEFA Nations League semi-final during the summer, and they were 2-1 down late in the game. Xhaka was given the responsibility to carry the ball forward in search of the equaliser, but he completely fluffed his lines.

It looked like he went to fake a pass, but actually still kicked it as the ball trickled to the feet of an opponent, who slotted through none other than Cristiano Ronaldo to net a third to kill the game off. Not ideal.


Awful Challenge vs Tottenham Hotspur

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Beating Tottenham Hotspur is about as important as it gets for Arsenal. It's vital that players don't make stupid mistakes to cost the team a goal. Enter Xhaka.

Already 1-0 down when the two sides met in early September, Arsenal found themselves under pressure as Son Heung-min picked the ball up in the box. What does Xhaka do? Does he stand the South Korean up and snuff out the danger, or does he two-foot Son and give away the clearest penalty of all time? No prizes for guessing the right answer.

Challenging like that was an awful decision, and the fact that it was in the penalty area only made it more perplexing. Then again, that's just Xhaka for you.

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