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Merson blames 2021 Arsenal signing for Granit Xhaka's red card

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Paul Merson believes that Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale could’ve helped Granit Xhaka avoid his red card against Liverpool last night.

The Swiss international returned to the side after recovering from COVID-19 but he lasted just 24 minutes on the pitch. A badly-timed last-man challenge on Diogo Jota gave the referee no choice but to send him off.


Arsenal did extremely well after the red card and salvaged a draw. Ramsdale didn’t really have a lot to do in the game, but Merson believes that if the 2021 Gunners signing had charged out to get to the ball before Jota, Xhaka would’ve stayed on the pitch.

Paul Merson: Aaron Ramsdale let Granit Xhaka down last night

The Englishman said on Sky Sports (Thursday, 13th January, 09:52 PM): “The goalkeeper’s been outstanding [this season, but] he has to come. And if he comes, Jota has a major situation: does he even go for it?

“If a goalkeeper comes steaming out from 30 yards away, you’re looking at Victoria Cross if you want to get involved in that. Very rare someone’s going to get involved. I think the goalkeeper’s positioning, as soon as they all go out and chase and he sees that the centre-half’s gone in as well, he’s got to be another 10 yards up on his box.

“No one is going to score from 60 yards. If he’s up there, I don’t think Robertson even hits that ball. Robertson’s that good a player where he will see where the goalkeeper is. And I just think the goalkeeper, who’s been outstanding, I think there has let Xhaka down, really, because he wouldn’t have got sent off.”

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The Insider’s View:

All the focus has been on Xhaka since his mistake last night and rightly so. However, Merson does make a really interesting point here.

If Ramsdale was 10 yards higher up, he would have been the favourite to get to the ball before Jota. That would’ve saved Xhaka and Arsenal would’ve had the opportunity to show Liverpool what we’ve got 11v11.

However, it’s really unfair to blame Ramsdale for what happened last night. A player of Xhaka’s experience should’ve been more aware of what’s around him, but what’s done is done now.

Arsenal played incredibly well after the sending off and that’s all that matters. We go again when Liverpool come to town next week.

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