Time for Arsenal captain Xhaka to repay Emery’s faith

Updated 29 September 2019

Time for Arsenal captain Xhaka to repay Emery’s faith

  • Xhaka’s discipline and defensive awareness have repeatedly been questioned since joining the club from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016

MANCHESTER: Granit Xhaka will lead Arsenal into Monday’s Premier League clash at Manchester United as the club’s new captain, but the Swiss midfielder has to win over plenty of doubters that he is fit to wear the Gunners’ armband.

Xhaka’s discipline and defensive awareness have repeatedly been questioned since joining the club from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016, but both Arsene Wenger and current Arsenal boss Unai Emery have consistently put their faith in the 27-year-old.

That trust is not replicated by the club’s fans. On one of the few occasions he was replaced by Emery with the Gunners trailing 2-1 to Aston Villa last weekend, Xhaka was booed as he trudged off the field.

Despite being down to 10 men, Arsenal turned the game around with the energetic duo of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira buzzing around the midfield.

That is a combination many supporters would like to see on a more regular basis, but Xhaka’s elevated status in the dressing room means he will remain a fixture for some time to come.

Emery sought votes from his squad before naming a five-man leadership group on Friday, of which Xhaka came top, but the Spanish manager is aware of the doubters questioning his decision.

“In the dressing room the players voted him as the first (in the) leadership (group),” said Emery on Friday.

“I spoke with him, we want to change that opinion outside. That respect he has inside is very, very important.

“Each match is for him, for me, for us, is a very good opportunity to show our capacity.

“Really I trust and believe in him. He is a good man. A good professional. A good player.”

Emery’s trust in Xhaka could easily backfire.

Arsenal have a break clause in the contract they handed the former Sevilla manager in 2018 that could see him released at the end of the season if he fails to deliver Champions League football to the Emirates for the first time in four years.

“It is a brave decision from the manager,” said former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, who described Xhaka’s performance against Tottenham earlier in the season as being “like a fire engine that turns up and discovers the house has already burned down.”

A stereotypical late lunge conceded a penalty that day in the north London derby as Arsenal had to battle back from 2-0 down to salvage a point.

Xhaka also described his side as “scared” when they threw away a 2-0 lead at Watford to draw 2-2 earlier this month.

Monday’s visit to an injury-ravaged United offers Arsenal a great chance for their first league victory at Old Trafford since 2006.

Do so and they will also open up a six-point lead over one of their rivals to break into the top tour.

For Emery to show to his superiors that he is making progress as Wenger’s long-awaited successor, he needs Xhaka to start to inspire his side to rise to the occasion.


IPL gets government clearance for UAE edition

Updated 10 August 2020

IPL gets government clearance for UAE edition

  • Due to the rising coronavirus cases in India, the 13th edition of the Twenty20 tournament is scheduled to take place between Sept. 19 and Nov. 10 in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai
  • The world’s richest cricket league will be played outside India for the third time after being held in South Africa in 2009 and the UAE in 2014 because it clashed with the national elections

NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League has received final clearance from the country’s government to host this year’s edition in the United Arab Emirates, its chairman told AFP on Monday.
Due to the rising coronavirus cases in India, the 13th edition of the Twenty20 tournament is scheduled to take place between September 19 and November 10 in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed this month that the league will be shifted outside its home country, and IPL chief Brijesh Patel said he had received the official confirmation from the government.
The world’s richest cricket league will be played outside India for the third time after being held in South Africa in 2009 and the UAE in 2014 because it clashed with the national elections.
IPL is searching for a new lead sponsor after Chinese phone maker Vivo pulled out of this edition amid a backlash after a deadly border clash between the two countries in June.
The tournament normally starts in March, but was repeatedly postponed this year because of the pandemic.
India currently has over two million coronavirus cases, the world’s third highest figure.