Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up his second red card of the season last Sunday at home to Burnley, a dismissal that put significant pressure on his teammates.
It took a stoppage time penalty from Alexis Sanchez to bail the Gunners out and it’s a sending off that could have had a severe impact on Arsenal’s campaign as a whole.
Now Arsene Wenger sees the defensive midfielder’s tackling contribution as such a liability that he’s offered some bizarre advice: stop doing it.
Quoted by The Guardian, Wenger said:
He’s not naturally a great tackler. In his decision making he is quite intelligent on the pitch. But it’s more the way he tackles that is not really convincing. He doesn’t master well the technique. I would encourage him not to tackle, to stay on his feet. Tackling is a technique you learn at a young age. You can improve it but when you are face-to-face with somebody, it’s better you stay up.
Xhaka is now suspended for four matches and it couldn’t come at a worse time the season with Arsenal needing results more than ever in order to keep pace with Chelsea.
The Swiss midfielder’s season has been a mixed bag since his big money move from Borussia Monchengladbach last summer. He hasn’t quite been in the instrumental figure Arsenal fans were hoping for when he arrived and while undoubtedly a classy performer on his day, hasn’t been able to produce a consistent level of high performance.
Now replacements will have a chance to cement their place in the midfield in the coming matches and Xhaka will have to work hard to prove himself again to Wenger, especially if his manager is now telling him to stop performing a key part of a defensive midfielder’s duties.