He arrived at Arsenal with a shady disciplinary record akin to Robbie Savage’s in his ‘heyday’ and accordingly it hasn’t taken long for Granit Xhaka to earn himself a three-match spectator’s pass.
The writing was probably on the wall for the £35m summer arrival when picking up his first yellow (his 29th for club and country since April 2014 that haven’t contributed to one of his eight sending offs) just 19 minutes into his Gunners debut.
A mindless, if not overly malicious swipe at Swansea’s Modou Barrow has subsequently earned the Swiss a first red card for the Londoners. The timing of his ban couldn’t have been much worse.
Although he will be available for Arsenal’s Champions League games against Ludogorets, starting on Wednesday night at the Emirates before the return on November 1st, Xhaka will miss the three intervening domestic assignments.
Having fought hard to earn a midfield spot in Arsene Wenger’s Premier League side, the road back to the starting XI is made all the bumpier by the expected return to the fold of Aaron Ramsey.
The Wales star could be in contention for Saturday’s league visit by Middlesbrough and if not, then an EFL Cup home game against Reading has Ramsey’s name on it.
This means that by the time Arsenal travel to Sunderland in the top-flight on October 29th – the final domestic fixture Xhaka will still be suspended for – Ramsey could well be cemented back in central midfield at the 24-year-old’s expense.
With an array of central options such as Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin, vying for just two spots behind playmaker Mesut Ozil, Xhaka may well regret this latest red card more than most.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing