Arsenal lost for a second time in three days when they were sent out of the Carabao Cup by rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, and after the loss many questioned a move by their manager Unai Emery on social media.
The Gunners were in the middle of a 22 match unbeaten run in all competitions when they went to Southampton on Sunday, but having been beaten at St Mary’s Stadium, they were unable to get back on track against Spurs, despite having the better of the early stages of the match.
Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan combined well in the first 15 minutes of the contest, but could not find a breakthrough, and then Arsenal surrendered the advantage by falling behind before half time, and never managed to find a way back into things.
Granit Xhaka is a bit like marmite among the Gunners faithful. Some see his worth, and others believe he is a liability but despite that, it was still a surprise to see the Switzerland international operating at centre-back for the match.
Emery has a number of injuries to his Arsenal squad in defensive areas, but despite that few expected to see the midfielder moved out of his normal position.
It would not have been so bad had Xhaka not struggled so badly in the heart of the Gunners defence. Given that it was a makeshift set up lining up in that part of the pitch it would be harsh of supporters to be too critical of the 26-year-old.
Indeed, some Arsenal supporters took sympathy with him and turned their angst to Emery for making the decision to play him there in the first place, while others, who clearly don’t rate the Swiss star, made their point why that is the case when reacting on Twitter after the final whistle.
Here are some of their messages:
Xhaka can't play centre back. #AFC
— Fabian Månsson (@fabianmansson_) December 19, 2018
Look how important xhaka seems to be now in our midfield #AFC
— عَبْدُ اَلْرَّزَّاقْ Opeyemi 🇳🇬 (@ABDVRRAXAQ) December 19, 2018
— J Crowhurst (@seasidegunner) December 19, 2018
Xhaka experiment hasn't worked at all.
Not picking laca who is fresh was stupid too.
Few odd decisions in past few weeks from emery. #afc
— robdagooner (@RobWoodfin1) December 19, 2018
— Rares (@raresn45) December 19, 2018
Xhaka needs to be in midfield, he's awful at CB and our midfield looks lost without him. #AFC
— JD™ (@JD23PO) December 19, 2018
— Sleeka_gunner (@sleeka_) December 19, 2018
— Ismail Mostafa (@isher92) December 19, 2018
Bad night at the office. Sort the formation out and take xhaka out of defence Saturday ok thanks. #afc
— Athos Paps (@AthosPaps) December 19, 2018
Terrible lineup again. Emery is at complete fault for picking Xhaka at CB again. It didn’t work on Sunday, and it didn’t work tonight. Terrible performance! #afc
— トミー 🤙🏼 (@ShinjukuAFC) December 19, 2018