Arsene Wenger may have been trying to show support for the Arsenal and Switzerland international star when he spoke about the treatment that Granit Xhaka has been getting from the referees and their assistants since his move to north London in the summer.
The boss is clearly concerned, though, and he also admitted that Xhaka’s tackling technique is not helping to keep him out of trouble. Wenger did claim, however, that his player is getting harsh treatment from the Premier League officials who have sent him off twice and shown him a yellow card nine times, reports The Telegraph.
The fact that five of those yellows have come in the last five games, since Xhaka returned from his second suspension, suggests that Wenger is right when he says that the midfielder’s reputation is causing the refs to clamp down harder than they do with other players.
The Frenchman said, “He is a victim a little bit of his reputation. You see tackles of some players who are much worse than what he did who don’t even get a yellow card and he got a straight red because he had a history of that in Germany I think he is a bit of a victim.
“I believe he is now in a position where on the first foul he gets a yellow card. For example last Saturday; first foul, soft yellow card. It is the way he tackles. He does not try to hurt people; it is more the consequence of the fact that he doesn’t master well the technique of tackling. He has improved a lot since he has arrived I think but he still has to work as you can always improve.”
The upshot of it all is, though, a real risk of Xhaka picking up another booking or worse, another sending off. Against a Tony Pulis team West Brom, it is likely that Arsenal will have to battle today and I think that Wenger will not feel able to risk Xhaka in the starting line-up.