Granit Xhaka has been speaking to the press while away on international duty with Switzerland this week and admitted he’s not happy with how Premier League referees have been treating him.
The midfielder used Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s elbow on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings as an example. The striker didn’t even see yellow during the match for the obvious foul, whereas Xhaka has now been given two reds for far smaller offenses.
“But if all these accusations were correct, I would not be at Arsenal. This is not going on for me,” he said.
“[I have] No idea [why my critics think I’m reckless]. I only know: I do not destroy anyone. They can write and talk about what they want. I know my qualities, and the boss knows them, or I would not be where I am today.
“I think I have a bad picture with the referees. I saw two red cards this season, okay. But if I compare this with the actions of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has not even seen yellow for an elbow, then I have trouble with it.”
When asked if the referees were giving him ‘special’ treatment, he added, “I will not get rid of this feeling – as often as I have been punished with yellow for the first foul.”
Does this mean Xhaka’s going to be more cautious? “Not at all,” he said. “When it happens, it happens. I go there in the double combat, where it is necessary. Pulling back the foot does not exist.”
Saying this, when speaking about his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach, the midfielder did admit that, at times, he could be a little silly.
“Against Sevilla there were two yellow cards, and I have to admit: It was simply stupid of me,” he said. “I have to learn that I can not let myself be provoked so quickly. And to this day what happened against Seville has not happened again, so I am on a good way.”
The 24-year-old does appear to quite literally have his card marked by referees and although there’s no denying that he can be a little frustrating when it comes to winning the ball back, the majority of tackles he’s pulled up for are – or at least should be – just part of the game and other players get away with them all the time.
When Xhaka received a yellow card for Emre Can’s challenge on Theo Walcott, it proved that the official’s vendetta against him has just gotten out of control.
At least he recognises that he’s not a nasty player and is trying to shrug off his ‘bad boy’ image. In another interview with Blick, he had more stern words for his critics, claiming that they don’t let them bother him at all.