EPL

Xhaka does not think he can change despite red card tally

By Sports Desk January 22, 2022

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka accepts he needs to "improve" his disciplinary record, but he does not think he can change his approach.

Xhaka attracted widespread criticism after he was sent off in Arsenal's EFL Cup semi-final first leg draw with Liverpool.

The Switzerland international made a wild lunge on Diogo Jota in the first half, with the Liverpool man looking to bring down a lofted pass before he received a high kick from Xhaka.

It was by no means the first time Xhaka's discipline has been called into question – that was his fifth red card since joining Arsenal in 2016, the joint-most of any Premier League player in that time.

But he does not think changing his game is possible, pointing out that it is not as if he is doing it on purpose.

"It's not like I'm planning this," he told Sky Sports prior to Liverpool's 2-0 win in Thursday's semi-final second leg. "It's not like I'm doing this on purpose, but sometimes I am in a position where I have to take a 50:50.

"It's risky, of course. Now people will say, 'Yeah, but why do you always [take] risks?' This is who I am. I can't change myself from today to tomorrow.

"Of course, I need to improve and I know I need to improve, but in this moment, if Jota takes the ball and he scores, they will say again, 'Why didn't you stop him?' Now, I stop him, they say, 'Why do you get the red card?'

"In the end, after the game, everyone is smarter than in the moment – myself as well. Of course, when I see it back now and say, 'Do I need to go into the duel or not?' No.

"But it is a moment, a second, where I have to make a decision and this time I made the wrong one and I feel sorry for the team, I feel sorry for the supporters, but thank God they did an amazing job after that."

Concerns over Xhaka's decision-making has not been limited to just red cards, though, as he also has a poor record when it comes to conceding penalties.

He has committed six offences that led to spot-kicks during his Arsenal career, with only David Luiz, Fernandinho (both seven) and Wilfred Ndidi conceding more over the same period.

The most recent of Xhaka's six came against Manchester City on New Year's Day, with the Arsenal man penalise for a coming together with Bernardo Silva – while there was contact, the Portugal star appeared to throw himself to the floor in a theatrical manner.

Referee Stuart Attwell did not immediately award the penalty, only doing so after a VAR check, and Xhaka voiced his frustration with situations like these.

"If you if you look in slow motion, every duel, every foul looks too much," he added. "[Against City], he [Attwell] had decided already it wasn't a penalty.

"But after, they go to VAR and check and check and check. The thing is, they are checking two pictures, three pictures, and they are not seeing all the action.

"I hope that in the future the referees can make their own decisions. Don't let the people from outside look in slow motion and stuff like this because I believe in a slow motion, everything looks harder than it is.

"In the end, they are human beings as well. They make mistakes as well. This is part of the job. Everyone makes mistakes. We have to accept decisions and look forward."

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