Petit lays into Arsenal captain Xhaka: Can anyone tell me his best quality?


The former Gunners midfielder has been left unimpressed from what he has seen from the Switzerland international and can’t understand why he’s skipper

Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit has criticized Granit Xhaka, insisting that he cannot understand why he has been made captain and that he is not sure what the midfielder does best.

Switzerland international Xhaka has often divided opinion among supporters, with many not convinced that he is good enough to be one of the Gunners’ key players.

He was, however, made Arsenal captain after a blind ballot back in September, and Petit claims he does not know why the former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder was given the armband.

Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United saw the north London club’s dismal away record continue, and Frenchman Petit believes compatriot Matteo Guendouzi is the only midfield player showing any leadership qualities.

He told Paddy Power: “Can you imagine Patrick Vieira on the pitch on Monday night? He would have been shouting at his team-mates, asking them: ‘What the f*ck are you doing?’

“I don’t see that with Xhaka. I do with Guendouzi – he’s one of the few who shows he wants to win every game. He’s got a lion’s heart.

“Guendouzi is relied upon a lot by [Unai] Emery, and that’s because he’s showing anger on the pitch. He hates to lose games, you can see that he’s ready to fight for every single ball. He plays to his strengths and he does that well.

Matteo Guendouzi, Arsenal

“That’s more than you can say for some of the other midfielders. Can anyone tell me what is Xhaka’s best quality? I don’t know why he has been made captain. The leadership is absent.

“To be fair to Emery, it’s a good thing that he’s picking a lot of young players, including players grown at the club. Gabriel Martinelli has caught my eye, as has Joe Willock. And, of course, Kieran Tierney – I can’t wait to actually see him playing, it’s time – Arsenal needs something else in defense.

“I’m happy to see these players getting a chance. Some of them have quality, though they need to improve. For that, they need help from older players, who don’t seem to be showing the way to these youngsters.

“These experienced heads must show the responsibility and personality needed to succeed as an example for their younger team-mates.”

Mesut Ozil continues to be overlooked by Emery despite declaring that he is fit and ready to help the Gunners’ cause and Petit has suggested the club are not being completely honest over the reasoning behind him being left out.

He added: “Emery said last week that Mesut Ozil was ready to play. Yet he didn’t even make the bench. That left Arsenal without any quality to bring on. The players Emery picked to start in Sheffield – honestly, come on!

“Were there really no other options? What about Dani Ceballos? He’s one of the few Arsenal players who can create something with his passing. I don’t want to focus on Granit Xhaka all the time but, well, show me something else!

“Regarding Ozil, I don’t think the club is being completely honest. Ozil seems to be ready to play, he has been training for weeks – if he’s not fit now, when is he going to be fit? There’s a problem somewhere.

“Maybe it’s a mental issue or maybe Emery simply doesn’t like him or doesn’t trust him.”