The Switzerland international was sent off inside 25 minutes as Arsenal battled hard to earn a 0-0 draw away at Liverpool in the first-leg of their Carabao Cup clash
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- 06:30, 14 Jan 2022
Fair play to Granit Xhaka, he does not just get sent off against anyone nowadays.
He has done the red card double against Manchester City and Liverpool this season, taking his Arsenal career total to five, alongside the fifty-plus yellow cards.
As Andy Robertson’s pass hung in the air like a kestrel looking down for a mouse, you could see Xhaka’s offence – and his suspension from this weekend’s North London derby – coming a mile off.
The volleying of Diogo Jota was not deliberately violent nor was it a cynical attempt to prevent a goalscoring opportunity.
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Granit Xhaka was sent off inside the opening 25 minutes against Liverpool
In fact, whether it was actually an obvious goalscoring opportunity is slightly debatable.
Jota diverted the ball into the path of Ben White but, then again, his touch might have been a bit more subtle without Xhaka’s boot belting him in the belly.
Even so, Michael Oliver, who let all sorts of things go when taking charge of the Manchester United-Aston Villa game on Monday, could not wait to dismiss Xhaka.
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That is not to say it was a bad decision, an incorrect call. It was not. When the main argument is about whether the card should be for denial of a chance or for violent conduct, you know there was a pretty serious offence committed.
But that is Xhaka for you.
This one was not cynical or thuggish, this one was just amateurish. This one was Sunday League.
Mikel Arteta didn't look up at Xhaka as he made his way off the pitch
Michael Regan/Getty Images)
And there is your fundamental problem. Xhaka has quite a few qualities, can be relatively effective but, as a senior player, is, too often, either irresponsible or irrational.
That is why Arsenal, who defended resolutely after Xhaka’s dismissal, will be down to seriously bare bones for Sunday’s game at Spurs.
And that is why Xhaka will continue to be a regular liability.
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