Mikel Arteta needs to pull Granit Xhaka into his office for a word after his unnecessary yellow card during Arsenal’s clash with Liverpool on Sunday.
That is the view of Craig Burley who was speaking to ESPN in the wake of the incredible game at Anfield which leaves plenty of questions to be answered in the Premier League title race.
Of course, much of the talk since the game has focused on whether Granit Xhaka cost Arsenal by firing up the Anfield crowd when Arsenal were 2-0 up. He got involved in a clash with Trent Alexander-Arnold that led to both players being booked.
It certainly seemed to turn the atmosphere up several notches. And with Liverpool getting a goal back shortly after, some have criticised Xhaka for being the catalyst for the change in the game.
Obviously, it is impossible to know whether Xhaka’s actions really inspired Liverpool to fight back. But Burley believes that there is no question that the Swiss midfielder did hurt his team due to the fact that he was taking a huge risk if he made any further challenges.
Burley criticises Xhaka for yellow card
“He’s one of the most physical players in the Premier League who could not, after that point, make a tackle because he’s on a yellow card. Stupid yellow card,” he told ESPN.
“Now if he gets booked for a late tackle, I really don’t have a problem with that. That’s part and parcel of the game. But as a central midfielder myself, you’re in the engine room, you’ve got to make tackles, you’ve got to try and toe poke things away, you’ve got to be physical on 50-50s.
“If you get yourself yellow carded for stupidity so early in the game, you’re walking the finest of tightropes. And if anybody tells me that doesn’t affect your game, they don’t know what they’re talking about, because your game in the middle of the park is not only to play, but it’s go and win second balls.
“I really hope, for all he’s done this season, Mikel Arteta pulls him in and says: ‘listen, screw the head on between now and the end of the season. No more stupid decisions, no more stupid yellows. Be physical, be yourself, but come on. Don’t get involved in situations that are unnecessary’.”
Clash definitely hurt Arsenal on some level
It is a valid point. Granit Xhaka was not able to take an easy yellow later in the game because of the caution he had already received. And given the quality Liverpool do still have, there is always the possibility that Arsenal would need someone to take one for the team with a tactical foul.
It was unnecessary from Xhaka to get involved with Alexander-Arnold. He had potentially been fouled by Ibrahima Konate. But that was no reason to then leave something on Alexander-Arnold after the ball had already gone.
It was not one of the worst moments of Xhaka’s Arsenal career by any means. Unfortunately, they would take some beating. But it is the kind of incident which could end up in folklore – rightly or wrongly – if Arsenal do go on and miss out on the title this season.