Arsenal news: Granit Xhaka sent-off for sixth time in 78 matches as Switzerland beat Euro 2016 champions Portugal

Xhaka's disciplinary record is cause for concern at Arsenal after he received his marching orders in Tuesday night's 2018 World Cup qualifier
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka’s rollercoaster week took yet another turn on Tuesday night as the Switzerland international was sent-off during the 2-0 2018 World Cup qualifier victory over Euro 2016 champions Portugal, earning his seventh red card since April 2014.

£35m Xhaka is seen at the Emirates as the man to give Arsenal their bite back, with many fans of the firm opinion that the club’s failure to replace Patrick Vieira in 2005 is the main reason behind their 12-year Premier League title drought. The 23-year-old is yet to mark his arrival at Arsenal with any significant contribution, but there are high hopes that he can go on to justify his hefty price tag in the heart of Arsene Wenger’s midfield.

Yet Arsenal fans who witnessed the 4-3 defeat by Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season will have seen a sign of things to come. After coming on in the 67th minute, Xhaka made seven attempted tackles, succeeded with none and conceded four fouls, picking up a booking 19 minutes into his Arsenal debut in the process.
That only got worse on Tuesday when he was sent-off in Switzerland’s opening 2018 World Cup qualifier after receiving a second yellow card in injury-time for a stupid foul on Joao Mario. Having initially been booked for catching Portugal midfielder Adrien Silva on the thigh with a high challenge, Xhaka received his marching orders as he slid through the back of Mario with no chance of reaching the ball.

Xhaka protested his innocence, but the damage was already done. More concerning though – especially for Arsenal – is the fact that the dismissal represented Xhaka’s sixth red card in his last 78 matches and his seventh since April 2014 for both club and country.

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Xhaka leaves the field after being sent-off for Switzerland (Getty)
 
The Swiss international was sent-off three times last season – more than any other player in the Bundesliga during his stint with Borussia Monchengladbach – to add to two red cards in 2014/15 and one the season before, and he finished the campaign by conceding the third-most fouls in the German league by giving away 73 free-kicks or penalties.
While Arsenal supporters may decide that he offers the bite needed in midfield, his disciplinary record is certainly a concern given Francis Coquelin, his Arsenal teammate, is rather susceptible to a booking himself.

The French midfielder has already picked up two bookings this season and was sent-off for a similarly needless second booking in last season’s north London derby with Tottenham. If Wenger decides the deploy the two gung-ho midfielders together, Arsenal may finally have the aggressive backbone they’ve lacked for the last decade – or alternatively end up with a lack of central midfielders on the pitch at all.

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