Granit Xhaka gets eighth red card since April 2014 but Arsene Wenger says 'he's not a dirty player'

Xhaka has also picked up 29 separate bookings over the last 30 months

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The Independent Football

Granit Xhaka picked up the first red card of his Arsenal career on Saturday as he was sent off for a blatant trip on Swansea’s Modou Barrow, but it was a long way from the first dismissal of his career.

In fact, the midfielder has been sent off eight times since April 2014, and has one of the worst disciplinary records in European football. He will now miss Arsenal’s next Premier League match against Middlesbrough on Saturday, although the Swiss is available for Wednesday’s visit of Ludogorets in the Champions League.

Xhaka’s arrival at the Emirates Stadium – a £35m acquisition from Borussia Monchengladbach – as greeted with plenty of optimism, with Arsenal lacking a physical box-to-box midfielder of his type. However, there was also the acceptance that he could fall foul of referees on occasion, and the first sign of this came when he was booked 19 minutes into his debut for the Gunners.

That has now developed into his first red card for the club, although it is not his first dismissal of the season. Xhaka was sent off in Switzerland’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Euro 2016 champions Portugal, where he received two bookings for irresponsible challenges in the second half.

Since he was sent off in Borussia Monchengladbach’s 4-2 defeat by Freiburg on 19 April 2014, Xhaka has received 29 yellow cards that have not led to one of his eight dismissals – 21 for the German club, seven for Switzerland and one for Arsenal. With one dismissal for both Arsenal and Switzerland, Xhaka has been given his marching orders on six occasions while he played for Monchengladbach, and he finished last season with the third-most fouls conceded in the Bundesliga.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke after the match at the Emirates Stadium to stress that Xhaka “is not a dirty player”, but did admit he needs to cut out the stupid challenges that lead to his dismissals from his game. Wenger also claimed the foul was more of a “dark yellow” challenge than a red card tackle, but his decision not to appeal the sending-off suggested that the Frenchman had accepted that there was enough in the deliberate trip to dismiss the 23-year-old.


“He is not a dirty player at all, but is sometimes clumsy,” Wenger said. “He is not a natural defender. He is a guy who likes to play forward, and Barrow made a lot of it as well. Because he was gone, the referee saw a bad tackle. It is what it is, he has to learn from it. Intelligence means that you do not make the same mistake twice.”