'Xhaka may be on borrowed time' – Keown slams Arsenal midfielder for North London Derby display

Home / 'Xhaka may be on borrowed time' – Keown slams Arsenal midfielder for North London Derby display

A former Gunners defender has singled out the Switzerland international for criticism after his erratic performance against Tottenham

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka “may be on borrowed time” at the Emirates Stadium following his display in the North London Derby on Sunday, according to Martin Keown.

The Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Spurs, which saw them slip five points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after four matches of the new season.

The home side got off to the worst possible start when Christian Eriksen tapped into an empty net after ten minutes, with a moment of madness from Xhaka compounding their misery half and hour later.

The 26-year-old lunged in on Tottenham’s Son Heung-min in the penalty area, completely missing the ball and giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Harry Kane dispatched the resulting penalty to double the visitors’ advantage, before Arsenal staged a compelling fightback.

Alexandre Lacazette pulled a goal back just before half time and the Gunners took control of the game thereafter, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang eventually finding an equaliser in the 71st minute.

Unai Emery’s side had to be content with a point in the end, but Keown has highlighted Xhaka’s performance as a real cause for concern.

The former Arsenal centre-back questioned the Swiss star’s tackling ability in his latest column for the Daily Mail, stating: “Granit Xhaka is so bad at tackling that Arsene Wenger once admitted he had told the £35 million midfielder not to bother anymore.

“I would encourage him not to tackle, to stay on his feet,’ Wenger said, and what we witnessed against Tottenham was classic Xhaka.

“He gifted the visitors their spot-kick by sliding in on Son Heung-min, right under referee Martin Atkinson’s nose. Did he really think that would end well? Then his constant fouling interrupted Arsenal’s flow.

“The hosts lost momentum because he kept breaking up play. This is what Xhaka does. He is like a fire engine that turns up and discovers the house has already burned down – he’s that late!

“He does more damage than good when it comes to tackling, so no wonder Wenger told him to stop trying. I suspect Xhaka may be on borrowed time in this team. He could soon find himself behind others in the pecking order.”

Keown insists Emery has a big decision to make when it comes to Xhaka’s future, but he also reserved praise for Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos. 

He felt all three men stood out against Spurs and that Arsenal have plenty of “firepower”, albeit without a strong defensive set up to match.

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“Matteo Guendouzi put in possibly the best performance I’ve seen from him in an Arsenal shirt,” Keown added.

“Lucas Torreira has to be a starter for me, and Dani Ceballos is looking good. Emery will have to look at the pros and cons and decide whether it is even worth persisting with Xhaka.

“Overall, this was a great game for the neutral. It was like basketball. You attack, we attack. But Emery has work to do. Arsenal looked lethal up front, but vulnerable at the back. Emery will want to balance that out.”

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