Sunday will give Granit Xhaka his first taste of a north London derby and we have to ask – will he be able to keep himself on the pitch for 90 minutes?
After all, he’s a player who picks up loads of reds, right?
He’s only ever had one straight red at club level and that was the joke of a decision that Jon Moss made this season.
Xhaka arrived in the Premier League this season with a reputation for getting himself into trouble with the ref on a regular basis. I refuse to count his red against Swansea because that was just ridiculous, but there’s no doubt that he brings with him a cynical style that we have been sorely missing.
In the heat of a derby, and with Spurs players no doubt targeting him in an effort to get him to lash out (they’d be better served trying to make sure Dele Alli can calm himself), it’s almost a nailed-on certainty that we will see the Swiss get booked…if he plays, of course.
But a red is not as likely as you’d think.
Xhaka’s career disciplinary record has been the topic of much discussion but it’s well worth noting that a lot of the red cards you read about were picked up at youth level. I don’t remember pundits using the youth records of other players, especially not when they are 24 but there you go.
Let’s look at his record
2016/17 – One red card that was an absolute joke and for an offence that has seen others given a yellow (or no card at all)
2015/16 – 28 Bundesliga appearances, two reds, both for two yellows, no reds in 5 Champions League appearances or 3 cup games
2014/15 – 30 Bundesliga appearances, one red for two yellows, 9 Europa League appearances, 1 red for two yellows, 5 cup appearances, no reds
2013/14 – 28 Bundesliga appearances, 1 red for two yellows, 1 cup game, no red
2012/13 – 33 appearances all competitions, no reds
2011/12 – 38 appearances all competitions, no reds
2010/11 – 34 appearances all competitions, no reds
As you can see from the numbers above, Xhaka has five reds in the past seven seasons – that’s quite different from what the press would have you believe when they include his youth level cards.
Not only that, all of them bar one are for two yellows.
Four, two-yellow reds could show that he has a problem containing himself when on a booking, right?
2016/17 – Not enough data
2015/16 – Two reds for two yellows but he was booked a total of seven times in 36 games
2014/15 – One red for two yellows from 14 yellows and 42 games
2013/14 – One red for two yellows from 10 yellows and 29 games
2012/13 – No reds, four yellows, 33 games
2011/12 – No reds, four yellows, 38 games
2010/11 – No reds, three yellows, 34 games
That’s a total of 42 yellows with only four of those turning into a red from 212 games over six and a bit years – a booking every 10 games, give or take.
What a badass, eh?