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‘Big players don’t let that happen’ – Xhaka slammed after failing to cover for injured Partey during Kane goal



Graeme Souness believes the midfielder should have been aware of his side’s vulnerability when his team-mate tried to leave the field

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka’s leadership was called into question by Graeme Souness after the midfielder failed to provide cover for Thomas Partey in the build-up to Tottenham‘s second goal on Sunday.

The Gunners suffered a 2-0 defeat to their north London rivals, with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane providing the goals in the first half.

As the hosts charged forward to score the second goal, Arsenal midfielder Partey walked over to the touchline due to an injury.

Coach Mikel Arteta shoved him back onto the field to try to stop Spurs’ attack, but he could not catch up.

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Former Liverpool player and manager Souness believes Partey’s central midfield partner Xhaka should have been more alert to the danger his side were in.

“Big players, leaders, don’t allow that to happen on the football pitch,” the Sky Sports pundit said.

“As a central midfield player, as a holding central midfield player – I don’t know what Xhaka is, it’s been about six or seven years and I’m not quite sure what he is – the alarm bells are ringing.

“All the time you’re looking over your shoulder, ‘where are we vulnerable?’. But they just empty the space, [Giovani] Lo Celso picks it up, on you go, 2-0, game over, possibly.”

Former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville went on to criticise the Swiss midfielder, too.

Xhaka was booked with 15 minutes still to play when he cut down Son deep in Tottenham territory and Neville argued it was an unnecessary tackle.

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“It’s just madness that. The last thing you need if you’re Arsenal is the game stopping,” he said.

“Son’s going nowhere, he can’t counter attack from there and it just stops the game for another 30 or 40 seconds.”

While Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table with the win, Arsenal’s misery continues.

Arteta’s team have taken just four points from their last seven matches in the English top-flight and are in 15th place.

They face Dundalk in the final Europa League group-stage match before returning to domestic action with a home game against Burnley, who are currently third bottom with six points.

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