Arsenal’s season just continues to dredge new depths at the moment.
Thursday’s 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt means that the Gunners are now on their worst run of form since 1992, and it looks increasingly unlikely that manager Unai Emery has a long term future at the club.
Chief amongst the controversies and issues that have blighted them this season, however, is the ongoing tension surrounding Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss midfielder was stripped of the captaincy after a public falling out with fans following his substitution against Crystal Palace at the back end of October, and while speculation has been rife about his future at the club, he did make a return to the first team on Thursday for the first time since that incident.
That in itself wasn’t enough to spark ire from fans, but Xhaka’s decision to greet some of his friends who were playing for Frankfurt upon the final whistle did not go down well at all.
The 27-year-old could be seen laughing and joking in the aftermath of the damaging loss, and for many supporters, that was unacceptable.
Xhaka smiling and laughing with Frankfurt players.
Exit him in January. Horrendous player. Needs to go.
— Le Grove (@LeGrove) November 28, 2019
Totally agree! Has to go!!! Should be told to go on gardening leave until January, poison!!!!
— Moz (@MozArsenal1) November 28, 2019
He's already shopping for a new home! In Milan/Germany who knows,get him out
— ??????'? ??? (@Shrikantz89) November 28, 2019
In fairness to Xhaka, this feels a little excessive.
Should he have maybe waited until he was out of sight before catching up with his mates instead of giving off the distinct impression of somebody who wasn’t overly hurt by the defeat? Probably, yes.
But does that mean he deserves to be chastised like this? No, almost certainly not.
Xhaka is allowed friends who play for other teams. To think otherwise is naive, and to get angry about it is a little bit immature, truth be told.
The midfielder actually had one of his better games of the season on Wednesday, making three tackles, three key passes, two successful dribbles, and registering a pass completion rate of around 88%, as per Whoscored.
Instead of focussing on the positives, however, it feels as if some fans are using him as a scapegoat for another underwhelming team display.
Lost all respect for xhaka. Good riddance
— Dazza (@wretchedworm) November 29, 2019
Xhaka laughing and smiling with the Frankfurt players is on a par with Armand Traore's behaviour after that 8-2 disaster against Man Utd in 2011. It's typical of him alas. Thoughtless. Like his tackling.
— Flying Pizza (@pizza1886) November 29, 2019
Swear to god Granit Xhaka is a disgrace. Laughing off the pitch after a pitiful loss. Gtfo
— ? (@ROCKYN1CO) November 29, 2019
What now for Xhaka?
If Wednesday has taught us anything, it’s that Xhaka is still willing to put in the hard graft for Arsenal.
It would have been easy for him to let his head drop after a difficult few weeks, but instead he came out swinging.
That being said, the fact that some supporters have chosen to react like this almost certainly proves that his days at the club are numbered.
It would take a miracle to transform some of the ardent views held by certain factions of the fanbase, and due to that alone, Xhaka may have to go.