Since the start of the season, things have started to unravel at Arsenal.
Things weren’t great in the closing chapters of last season, when our Premier League form was disastrous and we somehow missed out on 4th place, after dropping points against teams we should have easily beaten – and then we collapsed in the Europa League final.
It all started when Laurent Koscielny went on strike.
When has a player ever gone on strike at Arsenal? We’ve had issues with players like Ashley Cole, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor, but they’ve never refused to play or follow club orders. After 22 years under Arsene Wenger, this was a first and it was under Unai Emery.
With Koscielny’s departure, went our captain. And if losing our best defender wasn’t enough, it spawned another problem. Who would be the next Arsenal captain?
The fans seemed to have a good idea. We watch our team week in, week out, and some obvious candidates appeared. Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin would have been popular choices, and there were even shouts for players such as Lacazette and Aubameyang, who had a lot of fight and desire, and would lead by example.
But what started was one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen – Emery would conduct a players vote.
Unai Emery couldn’t make a decision that a manager should be making, showing his lack of authority and lack of decisiveness in the process.
And the million dollar question, why is this?
We know Granit Xhaka was annoyed that Emery didn’t just name him captain as soon as Koscielny left, with the process taking a couple of months. It has been rumoured that Emery asked at least one other player if they would be interested in being captain but they refused, resulting in the captaincy eventually going to Xhaka.
The players vote resulted in Granit Xhaka getting the most votes, and it’s clear that he is hugely popular in the dressing room.
Who does that sound like?
Is it that Granit Xhaka has too much power at Arsenal? Here are the facts:
- He is loved and respected by his fellow players
- He refuses to apologise for his unacceptable actions, despite the club telling him he should do so
- He won’t relinquish the captaincy
- He has constantly undermined the manager
- He always gets picked, despite being out of form
The last few weeks have been revealing. Emery has stated several times that Xhaka should apologise – Xhaka refuses to apologise. Emery hasn’t stripped Xhaka of the captaincy – because Xhaka wants to remain Arsenal captain. Xhaka has made mistakes and played poorly this season – Emery is too scared to drop him.
People have been quick to judge Emery and say that he lacks authority, but it appears to me that Granit Xhaka has too much power and has gone power mad. He is like a John Terry figure who for whatever reason, is loved by his teammates, apparently, and we know that some of the senior players went to his house after his outburst at the Crystal Palace game.
What will happen next between player and manager? Well if things continue as they are then it won’t be Granit Xhaka leaving, that’s for sure.