Granit Xhaka’s return to the Arsenal starting XI on Thursday evening didn’t exactly go according to plan.
The Arsenal midfielder missed out against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last Sunday, but was named in the team to play Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Anfield.
And with less than 25 minutes on the clock, Xhaka was shown a straight red card for a reckless last-man tackle on Diogo Jota.
The Liverpool striker was put through on goal by a superb cross-field pass from Andrew Robertson and Xhaka then unnecessarily poleaxed Jota in an attempt to make contact with the ball first.
Referee Michael Oliver had no doubt in his mind that it was a red card offence and VAR quickly declared that the on-field decision was indeed the correct one.
Liverpool vs Arsenal Carabao Cup Match Reaction | Football Terrace
Take a look at the incident here…
Video: Xhaka’s red card vs Liverpool
What on earth was Xhaka doing?! He can have no complaints whatsoever. Yes, he almost certainly didn’t intend to hurt Jota, but you simply cannot get away with a challenge like that – especially in the modern era.
The Swiss midfielder will now miss Sunday’s north London derby versus Tottenham Hotspur, as well as the return leg against Liverpool next week.
With options in midfield extremely limited due to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny being at the Africa Cup of Nations, Xhaka’s two-game absence is going to be a big, big problem for Mikel Arteta.
Xhaka’s red card against Liverpool on Thursday was the sixth of his Arsenal career and the second he’s picked up in 2021/22 alone.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach man was sent off in the 5-0 defeat at Manchester City earlier on in the season.
His latest red card will almost certainly not be the last either…