Paul Merson hits the nail in the head with Granit Xhaka’s comments prior to expulsion

Xhaka received a direct red card in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final for Arsenal after dropping Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, his second sending off this season.

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Granit Xhaka received his second red card of the season when Arsenal faced Liverpool in the Carabao Cup, just moments after Paul Merson signaled the Swiss midfielder’s tendency to be sent off.

The 29-year-old was sent off midway through the first half against the Reds, trying to stop Diogo Jota pressing on goal but instead dropping the opponent’s forward.

This was only Xhaka’s ninth game since going red in the defeat in August against Manchester City, ever since he opened up about his disciplinary issues.

The former Arsenal favourite, Merson, in his assessment of the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach player’s contribution to the team before the match started, hit the nail in the head.

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Xhaka was sent off in the first half against Liverpool
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picture:

Reuters)

“He’s one of those guys who plays… I watch him play in those games and I’m like ‘What are you doing?’ “But when he’s not playing he misses,” Merson said on Sky Sports coverage (via Metro). It’s strange.”

“He’s always playing and he’ll run across a brick wall for you.

“He will make his mistakes and send him off and get ridiculous yellow cards but he always plays.”

Xhaka’s final red card comes after he claimed that he is more likely to be sent off by other players due to his reputation.

“When you see some interference and imagine if I’m in this situation? I will be fired immediately,” Xhaka told The Athletic in December.

“It makes me do things differently sometimes because I know my risks compared to the risks of other players are not the same.

“If I take the risk I know I’m closer to the red card than any other player in the Premier League. I might be wrong but that’s how I feel.

“So sometimes in a game I stop myself from going to take a risk because if I get a red card it all starts again. I don’t want to give arguments to others to talk about me for stupid things. I try not to do too much risk.”







The red card is Xhaka’s second this season
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picture:

Getty Images)

Xhaka’s dismissal leaves Arsenal more nimble in midfield as they prepare for the north London derby on Sunday.

Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny will miss the Africa Cup of Nations finals, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles joined Roma on loan and Martin Odegaard missed the Liverpool game due to illness.

Ben White may be asked to deputize for midfield against Tottenham, having previously played for Leeds United, while Albert Sambi Lukunga remains available to manager Mikel Arteta.

Although he admitted he had concerns about the player, Merson still praised Xhaka before the match.

“I think they are a better team with him although I don’t want to underestimate him,” he said.

“That’s a compliment. They are a better team, Arsenal, when he’s on the team.”

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