Premier League • England

Xhaka slams Arsenal red card critics with major Jota, Liverpool admission as defence

Granit Xhaka red card Liverpool v Arsenal January 2022

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has said that he will never change the way he plays following his fifth red card for the club against Liverpool.

The Switzerland international put his side on the back foot in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. Arsenal had made a solid start at Anfield, but went into damage limitation after going down to 10 men.

Xhaka received his marching orders after bringing down Liverpool forward Diogo Jota and preventing a goalscoring opportunity.

The 29-year-old subsequently faced criticism for his decision to make the tackle as Arsenal’s last man. Still, that was his fifth red card for the Gunners since signing.

Speaking to Sky Sports, though, Xhaka insisted that he will never change the way he plays.

What’s more, he admitted that Jota put him in a tricky situation by bearing down on goal.

“It’s not like I’m planning this,” Xhaka said. “It’s not like I’m doing this on purpose. This is who I am. I can’t change myself from today to tomorrow. Of course, I need to improve and I know I need to improve.

“But sometimes, I am in a position where I have to take a 50:50. It’s risky, of course. Now people will say, ‘Yeah, but why do you always [take] risks?’

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But in this moment, if Jota takes the ball and he scores, they will say again, ‘Why didn’t you stop him?’ Now, I stop him, they say, ‘Why do you get the red card?'”

“In the end, after the game, everyone is smarter than in the moment – myself as well. Of course, when I see it back now and say, ‘Do I need to go into the duel or not?’ No.

“But it is a moment, a second, where I have to make a decision and this time I made the wrong one and I feel sorry for the team, I feel sorry for the supporters, but thanks God they did an amazing job after that.”

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Arsenal held on for a 0-0 draw at Anfield to set up an all-to-play-for second leg at the Emirates Stadium.

But Liverpool marched into the final on Thursday, with Jota netting two goals either side of half time to set up the Wembley clash with Chelsea.

Xhaka and his five Arsenal red cards

Granit Xhaka Arsenal

Xhaka made the move to Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2016.

He received his first red card only a couple of months into his Gunners career in a 3-2 win over Swansea.

Xhaka then received successive reds against Burnley just under three years apart – in January 2017 and December 2020 respectively.

The final two sending-offs have come this season. Before his tackle on Jota, the midfielder got his marching orders in a defeat to Manchester City at the start of the campaign.

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