Author of A-M essays 📚
I think there's some of this but I also think there's a bit of reading too much into things from you all's part on this point.Agree with you here.
His reputation alone will make it far easier for the refs when issuing red cards, yellows and accord penalties.
There were so many games when on the very first tackle he gets a yellow, while far harsher challenges by English and the more prominent players are easily dismissed/waved away.
The McCarthy kick on Saka, Kane's brutal challenge on Robertson, Mane's elbow at Tierney, Milner's routine knee-high challenges, Godfrey stamp on Tomi, Gordon's (Everton) two footed tackle on Tavares etc.... these are all only few examples where refs are far more tolerant than in case of Xhaka.
But yes, he has an ugly reputation on him, his stupid acts like last night never help and make it easy for the refs.
But the fault on why he is still here is purely down to Arteta as he convinced him twice to stay here (and probably offered him a better deal).
@MutableEarth rightly mentioned elsewhere that Arteta sees himself in Xhaka as a player. The sort of player that commands respect in dressing room which seems important to Arteta. This is very evident as on the occassions where he was suspended or injured, he came straight back to starting lineup. I bet he will be back in the same way after his suspensions on our home match v.Burnley.
I've said he should have moved in summer and we should've had a better partner for Partey, but we are where we are because of Arteta's decisions.
The first time Arteta convinced Xhaka to stay here he was absolutely correct in doing so; he was in some distance our best midfielder (until Ceballos got fit), and I loathe to think what our midfield would've looked like in those early days if he had not done so.
The second time is a bit more complicated; clearly there was a willingness to sell him, given how engaged in negotiations we were--which seeing him as an essential part of his project, or as an extension of himself, would really be incompatible with--but the offer was a total lowball one, and there didn't seem to be options on the market that represented a genuine upgrade. Arthur, for instance, someone I mentioned in summer, still had two months out left on a long injury after August. With people like we Neves and Guimaraes we know the story, dubious value for money. With hindsight it is honestly hard for me to say what I would've done if I were in charge; in summer I said I would've been aggressive and sold Xhaka despite the lowball offer, but the 12-15m euros that Roma was offering was really ridiculous, and I think I might've overrated Neves and Guimaraes a bit for the novelty factor. In any ways, I find it hard to gripe too much with the decision, business-wise it would've been a rather hard one to defend, and I'm glad we've looked at what for me is a more interesting and low risk, high upside one in Arthur, which tells me, again after our summer business, that we know what we're doing in the market atm.
Regarding Arteta seeing Xhaka as an embodiment of himself, aside from the fact that him being so open to selling him this summer and allowing negotiations for his sale to go on so long being for me, directly incompatible with this idea, I think the evidence on the pitch also speaks for itself. Arteta was a FAR more intelligent player; Arteta's defensive intelligence--especially in knowing how to make intelligent fouls to stop attacks, and tackling intelligently (when have we ever seen Xhaka make the kind of irresponsible tackles Xhaka regularly makes? The tackle Xhaka made against Newcastle, I think it was, when we had the game under control and he easily could've been sent off for, Arteta NEVER, ever would've made)--had nothing to do with Xhaka's, and with the intensity Arteta analyses matches and approaches the sport, it's impossible he is unaware of these details / major distinctive characteristics.
Does Arteta appreciate professionalism, leadership in the dressing room, and experience? Absolutely. His decisions to go for Cedric and Marí at the beginning of his reign, as dressing room type signings, was a clear statement of this. As was the Willian signing, to some extent, bungled as it was.
Does this mean Arteta sees Xhaka as the embodiment of him? No, clearly not, for me, for the reasons I've given above.
Too much tendency to go for easy and more appealing / interesting narratives around here, especially with those who seem to be looking for issues with Arteta, too much, in short narrative fallacy, and not enough attention to detail and willingness to work with the nuances and grey areas of situations. Same thing has happened throughout the Saliba discussion on here, when in reality our decisions to loan him out have been highly logical for a player his age and given the state / demands of the team, is happening when I read about Auba (using Tuchel's comments as a stick to beat Arteta with, when in reality those are the kind of comments that are easy to make 5 years after having worked with a different Auba in terms of quality of player, and when we see in practice that he tows a hard line or even a harder one with other players--not just Lukaku, but incidents at PSG as well), and happens, in short, with pretty much any discussion of Arteta with certain posters.