‘I nearly burst into tears’ – Ian Wright criticises Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka over ‘negativity’ and lack of creativity

Ian Wright slams Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka over 'negativity' and lack of creativity
The Gunners legend is unhappy with the lack of probing, forward passes (Pictures: PLP / Getty)

Ian Wright has criticised Granit Xhaka’s ‘negative’ football and says the Arsenal midfielder’s inability to play penetrative, forward passes is hurting the side’s style of football.

The Gunners have failed to win their last three Premier League matches, only scoring one goal, while skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not netted a goal from open play since the opening weekend of the season.

Arsenal legend Wright attaches much of the blame on the midfield, suggesting they are more concerned with preserving their pass completion stats than providing for the forwards.

Mikel Arteta Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Arsenal lost to Wolves in their last Premier League outing (Picture: Getty)

‘It needs to go to the Plan B, and what is Plan B at the minute? That’s what needs to happen,’ he said on the Kelly & Wrighty Show.

‘Is Arteta going to go with some of the youngsters, [Mohamed] Elneny’s maybe playing, is he going to stick with Willian? I don’t think that’s working out at the moment, too negative.

‘I think Xhaka at the moment has kind of reverted to type, it’s very negative, this is why we’re getting this stat of 58 passes per shot. We’re passing [too much].’

Asked to explain the lack of forward-thinking from Arsenal’s midfielders, Wright continued: ‘It’s lack of confidence, hesitancy and nerves. It’s all of those things.

‘The gaffer [fellow pundit Glenn Hoddle] will know because he played in that position, yes it might look like a tight fit to put [the pass] in there, but you have to try and put it in there.

‘Now the more you’re afraid to put it in there, then you’re starving Aubameyang, because he might need that.

‘But you’ve got midfielders who are not willing to take the chance of putting it in there, and they want to get these stats where they’re passing it sideways and they’ve got 99% pass accuracy, passing it five yards to the side.

‘If you’re not taking chances, you’re not going to create anything.

‘I think one of the stats the other day was the most interaction between two Arsenal players was Xhaka back to Gabriel – it nearly made me burst into tears!

Granit Xhaka Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League
Wright has been far from impressed with Xhaka and Ceballos this season (Picture: Getty)

‘Look at the gaffer laughing at me. But these are the problems Mikel Arteta has.’

He added: ‘Listening to Arteta, he’s saying he hasn’t got the right pieces to do what he wants to do, because we know he wants to play 4-3-3 eventually. But he hasn’t got nowhere near what he needs.

‘When you look at Xhaka and [Dani] Ceballos, they can’t progress the ball really, they haven’t got that kind of energy to progress the ball.’

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