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Tottenham loss should be last time Emery plays Xhaka as a central defender

Arsenal took great pleasure in celebrating their comeback 4-2 win against Tottenham earlier this month, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side took revenge last night.

Goals from Son Hueng-min and Dele Alli secured a 2-0 Spurs victory at the Emirates Stadium and booked a place in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.

Both sides made changes from that match but the absence of Rob Holding meant that Unai Emery reverted back to a back four, and deployed Granit Xhaka out of position at centre half.

It is understandable that Emery would not want to hurry Laurent Koscielny back into action, but there are other makeshift alternatives; and Arsenal need them because last night’s game underlined the issues with playing Xhaka back there, especially in a back four.

(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Xhaka’s discipline has been an issue in central midfield and it proved to be even more fatal at the back, as Alli especially exploited Arsenal’s high defensive line, which was shambolic at times.

The Swiss international could perhaps play at left back, with Nacho Monreal moving inside, but it’s clear that he doesn’t have the nous or experience to play at centre half.

Emery must abort the experiment with Xhaka at the heart of defence, or it will cost him dear again.

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