It was an electrifying atmosphere at The Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. For the first time in 22 years, a name apart from Arsene Wenger was referred to as the club’s manager.
The Gunners faithful had thronged to the stadium in their thousands to herald the beginning of a new era, but after 90 minutes, it seemed as though Wenger’s large shadow still hung around the terraces of the stadium.
Pep Guardiola had brought his team of champions to North London and see if they’d kick on from where they left last term, and kick on they did. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva condemned Unai Emery to his first competitive loss as Arsenal manager, a far from ideal start to life at the club.
The Gunners lacked pace on the wings, were constantly harried on the ball and lacked a passing flow that could threaten the City rear guard. The likes of Bellerin, Ozil, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan went missing, but the performance of Swiss international, Granit Xhaka topped new levels of below par displays in an Arsenal shirt. The midfielder was downright atrocious, couldn’t get close to the opponents, misplaced his passes, was slow and showed no signs of being a player that deserved to wear the jersey.
Signed in the summer of 2016, he was supposed to be a complete central midfielder but against City, he showed that maybe he’s not up to level of playing for Arsenal or even playing in the Premier League.
He made life extremely difficult for teenage debutant, Matteo Guendouzi as the Frenchman had to mop up for Xhaka. He failed to do his job and perhaps it’s high time the Arsenal hierarchy realized that he may not be the long-term solution in the middle of the park.
For a team that wants to challenge for major titles, having a player like Xhaka could be a counter-productive move. While his passing range is the best at the club, he needs to do more. He is a big lad, but he doesn’t offer enough protection to his teammates. No one seems to know his major strengths as time and time again, he has shown himself to be a liability. Granit Xhaka is running out of time.