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Sunday 26 March 2017

Wenger: Xhaka not a great tackler

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will encourage Granit Xhaka not to tackle after the Swiss midfielder was sent off for the second time this season.

The 24-year-old begins a four-match ban this weekend after being dismissed during the 2-1 victory over Burnley last Sunday.

Xhaka, who was signed for £30million from German side Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer, was praised by Wenger for his commitment and dedication but the Frenchman believes his tackling technique is a fundamental problem and thinks the best course of action is to simply stop doing it.

"(I have concerns) more about his technique," Wenger said ahead of tomorrow evening's FA Cup fourth round clash at Southampton.

"I think he's not naturally a great tackler and in his decision-making I think he is quite intelligent on the pitch. But it's more the way he tackles that is not really convincing. He doesn't master well the technique of tackling. I would rather encourage him not to tackle, to stay on his feet and that's the best way to deal with it. Tackling is a technique that you learn at a young age.

Improve

"You can improve it but when you are face-to-face with somebody, it's better you stay up."

The player now has nine red cards for club and country since 2014, and things got worse for him when he was spoken to by the police over an allegation of racial abuse at Heathrow Airport on Monday.

The 24-year-old denies any wrongdoing and was not arrested. He visited a local police station after the alleged incident was reported.

A statement related to the incident was released by the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday, which read: "Police were called at 19:29hrs on Monday, 23 January following an allegation that a member of staff had been racially abused at Heathrow Airport, Terminal Five. "The allegation was made by a third party. Officers attended and spoke with a man in his 20s. He was not arrested. He voluntarily attended a west London police station where he was interviewed under caution. Enquiries continue."

Wenger was adamant that the player had not let Arsenal down, either over the racial abuse allegations or the second red card.

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