Granit Xhaka’s career at Arsenal effectively seemed over after his incredible fallout with supporters during the game against Crystal Palace in October. He was stripped off his captaincy and he was not selected for subsequent games. Manager Unai Emery even went to the extent of saying that the Swiss international had played his last game for the club. There is no doubt that Xhaka’s reaction was totally inappropriate and his relationship with supporters is damaged beyond repair.
According to the Guardian, Emery said: “He is coming back better in his mind. His mindset is better to help us and to be closer to playing when we need him. I spoke to him this morning and we had a very good conversation.”
Now, however, Emery has surprised everyone by claiming that Xhaka could feature in this weekend’s game against Southampton. It would be a huge decision to include unnecessary volatility into the atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium especially when the Gunners are badly in need of three points.
Arsenal are one point ahead of Manchester United, but only three points separate us from Everton in the 15th spot. A favourable set of fixtures are coming to Arsenal’s doorstep. There are four perfectly winnable games before we take on Manchester City in the middle of December. Is it necessary to introduce a debate about Xhaka rather than focus on improving form?
Emery points out to the way Arsenal supporters accepted Hector Bellerin, although the Spaniard’s problem was far lighter.
Xhaka’s comments just after the international action with Switzerland indicate that the player has learnt from his mistakes. The 27-year-old was fit for the recent encounter against Leicester but he decided against being part of the squad. The midfielder claimed that he was not in the right frame of mind to be part of the game.
Xhaka has shown interest in holding discussions about to his future. Only a few weeks ago, he did not seem to have a future at the club. This opened the doors to a potential exit in January. A number of clubs have shown interest in taking Xhaka on a loan deal in January. The two Milan giants – AC Milan and Inter Milan – are credited with showing interest from abroad while Newcastle are showing interest closer to home.
Yet, it is quite remarkable that Xhaka has not come out with an apology for the incident. He has spoken about planning his future or his current plight but there has been a conspicuous absence of the apology. Arsenal fans are unlikely to remain silent if Xhaka is in the squad this weekend.
The focus on Xhaka is likely to shift focus away from Emery’s own future. The Arsenal boss is under great pressure after a run of four consecutive league games without a win. In fact, Arsenal have managed just one win in the last seven games across all competitions.
Emery appeared on the verge of losing his job with Jose Mourinho being lined up to replace him. However, this all changed in the matter of a few days with Tottenham moving in to appoint the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss. With January window fast approaching, Arsenal will have to make a swift decision about the manager who will have a say on the squad. If things continue to be a struggle, it would not be a surprise if both Emery and Xhaka went out of the club.