Granit Xhaka issued an apology to Arsenal for his early red card in the Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool that left his team-mates playing for over an hour with a man disadvantage.
The Swiss midfielder was sent off after 25 minutes of the Anfield clash after he produced a high challenge on Liverpool’s Diogo Jota as the last man. It was the 29-year-old’s second sending off of the season and his fifth in five-and-a-half years.
Thankfully for Xhaka, his Arsenal team-mates laboured to a 0-0 draw to keep their chances of reaching the Carabao Cup final alive, but the Gunners midfielder felt compelled to apologise to the fans for his moment of madness.
Granit Xhaka apologised to everyone at Arsenal for his red card away at Liverpool on Thursday
Xhaka (left) produced a high challenge on Diogo Jota (right) in the first-half to get sent off
The Swiss midfielder admitted he was sorry for his moment of madness early on at Anfield
‘I want to apologise to everyone,’ Xhaka wrote on Instagram after Thursday night’s match. ‘I am so proud of my team and the spirit they showed to keep a clean sheet tonight.’
Xhaka’s red card means he will now miss Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham which is a crucial contest in the race for the top four, plus the vital north London leg of the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool next week.
The Swiss midfielder felt the wrath of Arsenal supporters on social media, with Gunners legend Ian Wright furiously claiming the Gunners need ‘more from their senior players’ like Xhaka.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher branded the Xhaka tackle as a ‘ridiculous challenge’ at half-time, which nearly cost Arsenal dearly in their only chance of winning a trophy this season.
Xhaka praised the resilience of his Gunners team-mates in earning a 0-0 first-leg result
‘Xhaka does what Xhaka does,’ Carragher told Sky. ‘He makes an absolutely ridiculous challenge when Jota has got so much to do.’
‘You asked me if it’s a red card. There’s no doubt it’s a red card. Initially we weren’t sure, did he know he was there? But the way he’s taken him out, the force he’s taken him out, an absolutely ridiculous challenge.’
Arsenal now have a significant lack of central midfielders going into Sunday’s derby at Spurs, with Xhaka’s suspension adding pressure on Mikel Arteta’s squad depth.
Xhaka’s (left) red card means Arsenal are very short in midfielders ahead of a very crucial week
Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are both at the Africa Cup of Nations while Martin Odegaard tested positive for coronavirus and will miss the derby clash due to self-isolation rules.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles departed for Roma this week, meaning Arsenal have Albert Sambi Lokonga and 18-year-old Charlie Patino as their only recognisable central midfield options at the club.
Defenders Ben White and Callum Chambers both have experience in playing in midfield, while Arsenal have been linked with a loan move for Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo.