Ian Wright has jumped to Granit Xhaka’s defence after criticism from the likes of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher suggested that the Arsenal midfielder was the inspiration behind Liverpool’s 2-2 comeback.
Speaking on Match of the Day 2, the Gunners’ icon hit back at pundits and commenters pinning Arsenal’s draw on the Swiss international after Xhaka riled up the Anfield crowd by alternating with Trent Alexander-Arnold, a dispute that the England international himself actually started.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old Arsenal star was then scapegoated by rival pundits and fans as the reason behind Arsenal’s draw, with Liverpool scoring shortly after Xhaka’s altercation as the north London side lost control of the game to hold on to a 2-2 scoreline.
Indeed, criticism for Xhaka has been a stretch. And Wright was quick to defend the Arsenal midfielder, with the former Highbury striker saying: “It doesn’t take too much to get that crowd going. Even if Granit Xhaka went in there and slapped someone it’s not going to get that crowd any more going than they were gonna get going.
“The fact is he’s been brilliant for us this season. I think the narrative is people are trying to point at someone. That’s how he plays, that’s probably how he plays in his back garden. I wouldn’t put that on him.
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“What I would put on us is how we weren’t able to see out and continue to play as we did in the first-half but I think we will have learnt a lot from that game. A lot of people have gone to Liverpool and not gotten that. We should be delighted with that point. We haven’t won there since 2012 so we’ve got to take that point and be very happy.
Xhaka criticism for Liverpool draw is as ridiculous as it is boring
Xhaka has long been viewed as a pantomime villain of sorts in the Premier League, and whilst the midfielder has bene justified for this tag in recent years, the Arsenal maestro is now a completely different player, with this latest barrage of criticism ridiculous as it is boring.
The 31-year-old wasn’t the reason Liverpool got back into the game, nor was Xhaka the sole cause for Arsenal’s collapse. Whilst the incident no-doubt woke up the Anfield crowd, it’s hard to pin the draw on the midfielder, who this season has been nothing short of incredible for Mikel Arteta’s side.