By Walter Broeckx
I think the people who do the arsenal.com website and certainly those who run the facebook page have a good sense of humour. I couldn’t help but grin when I read the words on the Arsenal facebook page that accompanied the news that Swiss international Granit Xhaka has signed for Arsenal.
As I am a very patient man I never really worry about when a signing will be announced officially on the Arsenal website. If not today, the tomorrow is another day and is fine for me.
That he was going to sign was the worst kept secret of course. With his brother (as far as I have heard) putting pictures from behind the scenes of the official photo shoot on line and flooding the whole internet with our man from Granite.
In Dutch and in English the name Granit is pronounced almost in the same way. And it also is just short of one “e” to make it granite or Graniet (dutch). Granite is an igneous rock (I had to look that up I do admit as it is not in my every day vocabulary) and is known for being a hard type of rock. Remember this.
Granite came from cooling and solidification of magma or lava. So it comes from a volcano. As we know volcanos are usually rather hot or at least the magma or lava that comes out of it. Remember this too.
So have we bought ourselves a rock hard hot man? Let us look at some of his stats.
He is 23 years young. He is 1.85 meter tall and his weight is 82 kg. If that is in the morning or the evening is not known.
So far he has made 150 appearances in either the Swiss league or in the Bundesliga. And that is not bad for a young man.
He first came in the first team at Basel in the season 2010/2011. And after 2 seasons he went to Borussia M’Gladbach. (that is short for… well you know). In those 150 matches he only scored 7 goals but that is not really his main task on the field.
What I find interesting is his disciplinary record.
In 150 matches he managed to get 40 yellow cards, 4 times he got double yellow cards and was removed from the field and one time he got a straight red.
So he seems to be a bit of a hard man and a bit (hot?) tempered. Now what I find interesting is that when a certain German defender came to Arsenal he was known for being the cleanest defender in probably the world. Yes I talk about Per Mertesacker.
The man who in 7 seasons in the Bundesliga managed to get only 8 yellow cards that is around 2 card each season on average. This same player in England managed to get 11 yellow cards in 5 seasons. That is on average twice as much. And was given a red card twice in that period also.
So I really do wonder how many yellow and red cards our granite man will face before he will settle with the English refereeing system. I can imagine the media bringing up all kinds of numbers to prove what a dirty team Arsenal is under Wenger.
If Xhaka faces the same fate as Per he will end up with something between 15-20 yellow cards and will be red carded at least twice.
Now of course it might be that German referees are giving more cards (I think they do in fact) and English referees are averse of giving them. Apart from when the player is wearing an Arsenal shirt that is. Then he gets booked for almost nothing.
So how will they treat Xhaka? On the standards of Chelsea-Tottenham or on the Arsenal measuring stick? We will soon find out once the league has started I guess.
So his stats seem to indicate he is a bit of a hot and hard fighter on the pitch. As someone pointed out to me (thank you Josif) a bit in the mould of Emmanuel Petit maybe? Same height, loving to play a long ball, hard battler, but also a stylish footballer with the ball at his feet. Oh weren’t those the days the media came up with the 50th Arsenal player being red carded and how awful that was? It was Wenger’s fault of course.
Anyway this Swiss player from Albanian parents will become an Arsenal player starting from July 1. I must say that because of this I might force myself to see a few matches of the European mess up the players tournament that takes place in a few weeks in France.
I admit I have never really seen him play before or had an eye on him. But people who have seen him say he is a player who covers a lot of ground, has good technical skills, an eye and a good execution for the long ball and scores a few goals each season in the last years.
So for me I give a warm welcome to Granit Xhaka, our man from granite.
And I hope we can sing his name Boom – Xhaka – laka as in the song. But then again I always said they should sing Özil’s name with the Brazilian song but I am probably the only one who wants a real cracker that is immediately recognisable song for him. Like the Santi and Giroud songs. You hear it starting and the whole stadium can fill in immediately.
Anyway, big welcome Granit and may you hit the ground running and prove to be a great player for The Arsenal.
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