Arsenal have had a miserable year. One that reflects on supporters.
Which is why Christmas comes around at the perfect time. It’s a far cry from a ‘normal’ Christmas, but it arrives to provide us all welcome respite from the weekly agony that is Arsenal Football Club.
Just as us fans and regular folk buckle down for the holidays, so too do many of the professionals who – sometimes – bring us joy on a whole new level. Watching your team secure three points (whatever that feels like) or even just score (whatever that also feels like) is a pleasurable side-note to the rest of what we do with ourselves.
Likewise, when none of that is forthcoming, it can ruin our weekend. We’ve had plenty of those this season.
Without delving deep into the reasons behind that, a lot of it comes down to the players. Too many of this Arsenal squad have either underwhelmed or completely nonwhelmed(?) this season, whether that is performance-related or otherwise.
Picking out three in particular who aren’t deserving of Christmas presents this year is no easy task, although this trio, it’s fair to say, deserve coal this year.
Nicolas Pepe & Granit Xhaka
These two come as a package.
Arsenal have received a foolish number of red cards under Mikel Arteta‘s tenure, the like of which has prompted discussion over the the disciplinary issues within this squad.
Are they overworked? Are their attitudes not in line with the festive spirit?
While a few of the red cards had no malicious intent, two of them – four Premier League matches apart – were totally un-Christmas-like responses that can’t be excused.
While we don’t know what was said to Nicolas Pepe at Elland Road, no amount of winding up or dirty tactics from opponents can justify headbutting someone. Yes, it was more like a headprod, but the outcome is the same. Pop off for an early shower and hamstring your team.
Granit Xhaka was no better. He reacted aggressively having given away a foul, opting to put his hands around Ashley Westwood‘s neck out of the view of the referee. Needless, pointless and stupid. Of course VAR picked it up on the cameras, and off he went.
It’s coal for these two this year.