Granit Xhaka pushed the Arsenal self-destruct button against Burnley.
Mikel Arteta gave the biggest indication that his non-negotiable methods are beginning to fall on deaf ears. Neither him nor his Arsenal players have heeded the first words he uttered upon his appointment.
The decision to call out Nicolas Pepe for his own moment of insanity was one that garnered a mixed response, yet nobody could disagree with the sentiment. He let his team down. However, while Pepe has not performed well for much of his Arsenal career, that was his first mistake.
This was not Granit Xhaka‘s.
Thrown a life jacket by Arteta after that fateful October night, the 28-year-old has gradually clawed back his way back into a position of authority and respect, succeeding in convincing Arteta that his macho bravado is a valuable asset. Form and an unsuited profile disagree.
He puts on a front. The silhouette of a man whom others should fear. This big, bruising midfielder who should be avoided by the opposition at all costs.
All he does in trying to portray a menacing foe is exacerbate the issues he’s trying to mask over in the first place. There is no room for this faux persona at Arsenal. Having spoken in the pre-match notes about being a disciplined and organised individual, evidently he wasn’t referring to matters on the pitch.
Pepe’s actions were farcical and unacceptable. Xhaka’s were no different. If anything, they were even worse since he threw away the good spell Arsenal were in to satisfy his own childish need to ‘get one over’ on Ashley Westwood.
Whatever happened to putting the team first? Any reasonable member of this squad, let alone a senior figure, could see Arsenal were in the ascendancy. How disillusioned must one be with the current predicament to selfishly put your own crooked desires ahead of those who are deeply hurting?
The concept of solidarity is lost on him. This was an egocentric act that demonstrated no modicum of care.
Without checking, it’s depressingly certain he’s received disgraceful abuse on social media. Such is the generation. No amount of failings on the pitch warrant the level of animosity directed towards players that stretch beyond their job role.
On this occasion, Xhaka can only blame himself. Not for the public response, but for his actions. Arsenal and Arteta can’t come to his rescue again.