Granit Xhaka has responded to criticism of his performance after Sunday’s north London derby by suggesting that missed chances had a bigger bearing on the result than his penalty concession.
An entertaining clash at the Emirates ended 2-2 after Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang struck to cancel out an early Christian Eriksen opener and a Harry Kane penalty.
Kane’s penalty put Spurs 2-0 in front in the first half and it was Xhaka who conceded it following a needlessly rash challenge on Heung-Min Son.
A number of pundits piled into Xhaka after the game, including Paul Merson who questioned what he brings to the team and Ian Wright who took a subtle dig at his tendency to mistime slide tackles.
Xhaka responded while on international duty with Switzerland, by saying: ‘Of course, critics are always there.
‘In the London derby, I think we had a good game, I made a mistake with the penalty, yeah, but if you see the game we could have won.
‘We had a lot of chances, but this is football, nobody speaks about the chances, how many we missed, always they speak about mistakes. That’s a part of football.’
Only Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic with 16 has committed more fouls than Xhaka (10) in the Premier League this season and seven of those came during Sunday’s game against Spurs.
Merson slammed his overall game afterwards, saying: ‘He doesn’t score a goal, he doesn’t have assists, he gets booked, he makes rash challenges, he gives away cheap penalties, he doesn’t sit in front of the back four as a number six to break things up.
‘If you asked me what has he got, I’d say he’s got a hard shot. I don’t want to be disrespectful but I’ve got to say I don’t know what he brings.’
Wright was less damning but while praising Matteo Guendouzi for winning a tackle, he commented: ‘If you’re going to ground, win it. People in his team can learn that to be honest.’
‘Xhaka is good on the ball, he’s decent! He can spray passes 25 or 30 yards no problem, he’s very good at doing that,’ he said.
‘Sometimes he fits in and keeps it simple, but at the weekend he didn’t have a good game.’