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Xhaka has covid and has refused vaccination. So should we blame him?

By Tony Attwood

Such is the state of the media, it is getting hard to find many Arsenal players who have been with the club for a while who are considered worthy of driving the lawnmower to cut the grass on the pitch, let alone turn out for the team.

Leno is considered an absolute disaster (despite being Germany’s number two keeper in the Euros, and being the keeper in the third best Premier League defence last season).

Rob Holding is always on the list of players to be “shipped out” with occasional mentions of the fact that he was a £3m transfer from Bolton.  Calum Chambers is injured too much, Sead Kolasinac is simply a disaster, Maitland-Niles is a forgotten leftover, Mo Elneny is always expected to leave no matter how he performs on the pitch, Pepe a ludicrously expensive failure, Nketiah simply not up to it.

But most of the aprobriam is reserved for Xhaka.  

We’ve tried to add a sense of realism as with articles such as How 8 Arsenal players swept to the top 20 table in Europe this month in which we quoted the Football Observatory monthly figures which showed player rankings for games played at big-5 league level over four different time periods.   But prejudice, it seems, always wins through.

And this was so even when we showed where Arsenal players were positioned, in relation to the whole of Europe.

  • 1. Nicolas Pépé: 94.8% 
  • 2. Granit Xhaka: 93.7% 
  • 7. Martin Ödegaard: 92.3%
  • 10.  Mohamed Elneny: 91.0% 
  • 13. Gabriel Martinelli  90.0% 
  • 13. Bernd Leno.  90.0% 
  • 18. Gabriel Magalhães  89.2%
  • 31. Calum Chambers  87.6%
  • 32. Rob Holding 87.5% 
  • 32. Emile Smith-Rowe 87.5%
  • 35. Thomas Partey  87.4% 

But of course it wasn’t mentioned in England because it suggests the Arsenal management know what they are doing – and that is not acceptable journalism these days.

Now Granit Xhaka has covid although because he is deemed useless by the English media no one cares much.  But in Switzerland it is a different matter.   Because Xhaka is the hero of his adopted country.

As the right wing Swiss newspaper Blick puts it, “If Switzerland achieved a historic journey to the Euros, it owes much of that to Granit Xhaka.   He was admired not just for his performances on the pitch but also his ability to mobilize his troops, to take them to a higher level that allowed them to achieve the impossible and eliminate France.”

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But after a negative rapid flow test, his PCR test was positive and now the story has emerged that he was the only member of the Swiss squad who was neither vaccinated nor immune after contracting the disease.

The Swiss coach Murat Yakin, was very reasonable about the issue saying, “We can only give recommendations and respect everyone’s choices.” 

So the point was put to him that Xhaka should be leading by example… to which the manager very reasonably replied, “Yes, but a captain remains a human being.”

In short they acknowledged that the timing might be a disaster but his decision is a personal choice in a country where freedom of choice is valued.

The question of vaccination is a major topic in Switzerland, and only 52% of the adult population has received a jab.   The Swiss Football Association is officially telling all its 300,000 members across 1,400 clubs to have the vaccine, but it remains a matter of choice – just as vaccinating children in the UK against a variety of diseases, is a matter of parental choice. 

So it can be argued that Xhaka made a selfish decision which put his beliefs ahead of the team and inevitably Xhaka is starting to receive some of the opprobrium that he gets on a daily basis in England.  And undoubtedly at some stage those who want Xhaka out of the Arsenal team, along with other players who ranked so highly at the end of last season, will join in the calls for him to go.

But there is another side – and I write this as a person who was vaccinated on the first day I could get each of the jabs.  Rightly or wrongly the UK, like Switzerland, is a country where beliefs are recognised and acknowledged.  

I never hide the fact that I am an atheist and I personally find religious beliefs no different from fairy stories.  But if people want to believe them, fine.  I won’t interfere with their beliefs, as long as they let me have mine.  If Xhaka wants to believe that he is better off not having the vaccine than having it, ok, that’s his choice.  I think it’s bonkers, but people having bonkers beliefs is part of the price we pay for democracy.

I’d sooner people have beliefs that I think are ludicrous, than all of us be told “this is what you have to believe, and anyone who doesn’t will be marched away.”  I think everyone knows where that leads. 

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

21 comments to Xhaka has covid and has refused vaccination. So should we blame him?

  • Brad

    Such arrogance and stupidity.
    Xhaka is a total dick.

  • Mike T

    Tony

    Not quite sure that I would put too much sway on those Football Observatory figures.

    Indeed in you look at the most recent version you will struggle to find any Arsenal player in the top 200 and if you use the last six months the only name that seems to appear in the PL selection. Is Xhaka who comes in around 32nd

    https://football-observatory.com/-rankings-_none

  • porter

    Personal belief is fine but it begs the question that given the spate of covid cases in the camp , how many others have taken the same stance ?

  • Laos Gooner

    Covid diagnosed with an analytical tool the inventor says does not function in the manner used, as a reason to get an injection of a substance that does not stop contraction or transmission of the non isolated disease. I see where Granit is coming from and respect his individual right to choose which medical treatments he has. When we add to that that 70% of hospitalisation are double vaxxed people and new variants are being generated by the vaxx lets leave the choice with each person themselves to make.
    These are healthy people who have immune systems, lets just let them recover quietly and talk football instead

  • jod

    Many companies across the developed world are making vaccination a condition of employment. So this “freedom of choice” doesn’t apply to everyone. But as always footballers are a special case and can do what the hell they like regardless of any damage to their clubs or national teams.

  • Chris

    @Brad,

    I guess you need to add quite a few PL players to your definition of dick, among which Olivier Giroud will have to feature.
    As well as the millions of Britons who did not get vaccinated.

  • Kevin Marckus

    Xhaka is everything that is wrong with Arsenal.
    Over 4.5 million people have died world wide from COVID-19 and they are still dying, and he refuses to vaccinate.
    His tackling has been awful from day one, he is a total liability, having been sent off four times at Arsenal.
    Arteta should of let Roma take him, so many good Arsenal players have gone for nothing, and they hold on to him.
    Arteta will go down as the most ineffective manager in the entire Arsenal history.
    Bring in Conte clear out Edu and start the cleaning house process.
    And we don’t need Jack Wiltshire another injury prone liability. If he was a horse they’d take him to the knickers yard.

  • Nitram

    Mike T

    “Not quite sure that I would put too much sway on those Football Observatory figures”.

    It seems you don’t put too much ‘sway’ in to any figures you don’t like.

  • Kevin your attack on Xhaka would carry more weight if you can explain why both his country and Arsenal have used him as captain, and how come the Football Observatory figures rated him so highly. Without those explanations your comments are just a personal rant.

  • porter

    It’s just a personal observation but Xhaka slows our play down . When transitioning ( new termology ) he tends to always play the safety first ball which is why his passing stats are so good . Frequently you can see Auba , Laca , Pepe etc making a run into space or Saka and ESR interchanging for Xhaka to play the way he is facing and go sideways or back .
    That’s my frustration with him .
    I have no doubt that he has been relatively popular in the changing room but maybe now other players may well be giving him a wider berth . I know that I would.

    And to Laos , I don’t know if you are in Vietnam but I do know that in the U.K the greater number of people hospitalised with covid are in the the 20 to 35 years old bracket , many of whom have not had a single yet alone a double jab.
    This is where social media and internet access has replaced the bar stool expert and affected the minds of so many.

  • Mike T

    Nitram

    Ok let’s say how accurate and how good these figures are

    Was really impressed to find Xhaka as the leading Arsenal player in the latest report indeed being joint 1135th really is cause for optimism

  • lolerinho

    This headline is absolutely in sync with the idiocrazy unfolding in our society. I love your work, but this is just WRONG! This type of language is clearly not helpful and is furthering the division today, which we obviously do not need. Please, refrain yourself from commenting on medical and political issues with so many conflicts of interests. You are clearly out of your debth on this topic, and so are most of the people commenting on football pages. Stick to the sport, that is your strong suit. Xhaka should not have to defend his personal medical choices to anyone! Just by writing this post you are complicit in discrimination, and there is a very fine line here, so step lightly. And for your information, more children have died from the vaccine than from the virus itself now. Its a big red flag that nobody is willing to discuss in the media. 80% of the dead are overweight, 95% have on average 4.1 comorbidities. Survival rate above 99% in all age groups except 80+ yrs. Do you know what the life expectancy is? 78,5. The powers that control the very fabrics of our society is acting in their interests. I will not conspire regarding the ifs and buts, but it is clear that the threat we are facing does NOT match our response. Now would be a good time to read the bible, bless your heart.

  • Lolerinho: you make a bit claim: “And for your information, more children have died from the vaccine than from the virus itself now”.
    Now I fully admit I am not qualified in the medical world, but I do have a science degree which incorporates the link between biology and behaviour, and as I such I am able to read and by and large understand a fair amount of medical information.
    And two things arise here. One is that I have never seen anything like that published. what I have seen is evidence from the JCVI which I have followed in some detail to the effect that “only 25 children and young people in England died from COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic – just 0.005% of those who were infected with the virus.”
    I would invite you to give evidence and a source for that evidence to back up your very strong claim, and thus justify your attack upon what I have written.

  • Mike T

    Lolerinho

    You talk as if it’s ok to sacrifice those overweight, those with 4.1 + comorbidities. While your at it let’s say bye bye to the over 80s

    You say this

    Just by writing this post you are complicit in discrimination, and there is a very fine line here, so step lightly

    I have re read Tony’s comments and to be honest I find it hard to disagree with this take on this and am surprised with your response because unlike Tony’s live and let live approach yours clearly comes over as you know it all whereas you clearly haven’t a clue about how the vast vast majority feel about matters COVID

    Did man go to the moon ? Was it the FBI who killed Kennedy no doubt you won’t accept anything and find a bogeyman hidden around every corner.

    You are entitled to your views, and that’s what Tony acknowledges but your arrogance in dismissing others dilutes the impact of your arguments 100%

  • Emilio

    Who owns the big multi-national organisations? Who owns and funds the news outlets? The BBC full of former Murdoch executives/employees. As soon as you mention Bill Gates you are labelled “one of them!” So why did he make a sizeable donation to the BBC? What’s the motivation there? I find it amazing that the people who’ve told some of the worst lies, hacking scandals, no proper condemnation about all those “back hander” contracts, “Dodgy Dave”, the most important journalist in the world locked up in Belmarsh for exposing atrocities and the suppression of debate Orwellian style. Nothing! No questions. We are walking around like zombies without even wanting to investigate, challenge and ask the difficult questions. We are so conditioned to our mobiles and tvs, that we have lost the power to think and analyse. For those in charge, that is exactly what they want. The younger generation turning into no personality automatons who are incapable of putting their phones down and will do as their told because that’s what they are being conditioned to do.

    I do not want to be jabbed because there are not enough safety tests, which can take years to conclude. I believe in healthy, tested vaccinations which I have had all my life. That is my point of view and that of a lot more people than you think. But they are scared and don’t want to fall out with family or friends. Fucking Hell, do you know how difficult it is to have a proper debate or discussion. Why? That’s what people should be enquiring about. This massive Red Flag tells me that something is wrong.

  • Chris

    @Lolerinho,

    I agree with one point : Xhaka should not have to defend himself. Or all unvaccinated players in Europe ought to. And visibly you did not read the post which defends his right to decide for himself. And the headline has a question mark to it. You know : ?
    It is asking a question. Not stating a fact.

    As for the rest….not sure your stats stack up. Or more precisely, I’m sure they don’t. The equation you seem to present is : co-morbidity = death sentence and loss of any solidarity in case of any problem. Can’t follow you down that path.

  • Mike T

    For clarification earlier I wrote

    “ I have re read Tony’s comments and to be honest I find it hard to disagree with this take”

    It should have read

    “ I have re read Tony’s comments and to be honest I find it hard to disagree with HIS take

  • Chris

    @Emilio,

    you need to read the information before just stating stuff. The Bill and melinda gates Foundation has given a 5 year grant to the BBC oer 5 years. This grant is earmarked to disseminate public healthe information is the indian state of Bihar.

    Having seen personnaly how the Foundation follows up on such grants I have no doubt the money will go for the project. So here you have the motivation and the reason which any search on the internet would have given you in a few seconds.

    As for the young generation….well I don’t share your vision. They know what to do with their phones once they decide they care.

    As for getting jabbed, it is your choice, for whatever good or bad reason. My question, which I asked to my sister (who explained to me that the fact (F.A.C.T.) that Bill Gates had bought (B.O.U.G.H.T) a 70% share in the WHO and was working with the vaccine manufacturers to include nano chips which, via 5G would make zombies of us was the reason not to get a vaccine) is simple : when Ebola, Marburg, West Nile, Chikengunya will come knocking (and it is not a question if but when), will you expect a novel vaccine to be developped quickly ?

    Finally, Untold is asking quite a lot of difficult questions. has been for 15 or so odd years. So your rant seems a little bit off topic and out of place.

  • Menace

    @Chris – ignore the tiny prick that calls Xhaka a dick. (Brad – a slender nail with a protrusion from a small head). Now ain’t that peculiar.

    Covid immunity has not been understood completely so Xhaka might be more correct than those of us that have taken the double dose.

    The Gates do not open into heaven but certainly lead to hell. But then again heaven and hell just scare the ignorant.

  • TalkSport’s report on Arsenal injuries (brought to you by Phil Spencer) was up to their usual standard of reporting.

    On Gabriel Magalhaes:-

    “The Brazilian suffered a knee injury during the Olympics this summer”

    He was diagnosed with tendonitis on or before July 7.

  • Micko

    @Emilio
    Yes people do seem to be wandering around like zombies now. No need to question anything, just do as you are told even if it makes no sense at all!
    Vaccination passports to get into nightclubs, what is that meant to achieve? If ‘vaccinated’ people can still catch it and spread it what is the point of a vaccination passport.
    It’s all about control.

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