We should really stop banging on about Granit Xhaka’s improved disciplinary record.
For years, Arsenal have been burdened with tags like “lightweight”, “fragile” and “pansies”*.
*may not be 100% factually correct…
Clubs like Chelsea, United and, latterly, Spurs have led the way, along with whichever poor club Tony Pulis is working his Frankenstein magic on at any given moment, in being applauded for taking the physical fight to us.
Somewhat depressingly, they have also – Tottenham aside – got a fair measure of success from the tactic.
“Arsenal can be bullied” is the message received, loud and clear.
In recent years, our players have made all the right noises about ‘earning the right to play,’ first by going toe-to-toe physically, but rarely have we seen this attitude manifest, certainly to any real success.
Yes, we’ve picked up red cards, but almost never for a crunching challenge or physicality deemed over the line.
The closest we’ve got, in another season where we topped the tables for ‘lowest cards per game,’ has been Gabriel’s petty (and inaccurate) kick out at Diego Costa, and Coquelin’s stupid, mistimed but ultimately weak challenge on Harry Kane.
Heck, you know it’s bad when Santi Cazorla can be deemed to have been one of the most aggressive in any given match!
We just don’t gave a Vieira, a Petit, an Adams, a Keown in this squad.
We just don’t have those kind of hard men at all any more.
It’s the cry we’ve heard for years now, and one which gives us a reputation for softness.
So where does Xhaka fit in?
Having signed a hard man worthy of the name, we seem intent on Arsenalising him. Instead of pointing out that his three red cards all came by October 17th of last season, with just a solitary yellow card to show for the remainder of the campaign, we should be celebrating his “terrible disciplinary record”.
We may or may not be soft, but as long as other teams think we are then they’ll continue to try to bully us.
It’s high time we put that reputation to bed, and Xhaka has arrived to tuck it in.
So let’s rejoice in the idea that he’s a vicious, aggressive and physical player who’s going to turn us all into slightly more cultured versions of Vinnie Jones.
Let’s shout from the rooftops about how he’s going to let our opposition know what’s what and have them cowering in fear worse than a Spurs team faced with four games to earn a single win.
Even if he has toned it down more recently, and let’s face it, we don’t really want to be playing with ten men too often, then let’s push our new signing as the meanest of the mean, because for us, this is as much about perception as it is reality.
After all, if we successfully convince everyone that we have a destroyer who will take everything they throw at us and return it twice as hard, maybe we won’t even need a destroyer after all.
So all together now, who’s our new lean, mean fighting machine?