Ian Wright accused Granit Xhaka’s critics of having a ‘narrative’ against him after Gary Neville said the midfielder ‘broke the rules’ of playing against Liverpool at Anfield.
Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead against the Reds on Sunday, having been in complete control after half an hour at Anfield.
The game, many have suggested, turned when Xhaka hit out at Trent Alexander-Arnold in the corner that stoked the Liverpool players and the crowd.
Within minutes, Mohamed Salah had halved the deficit and after a dominant second half performance Roberto Firmino scored a late equaliser.
Arsenal were lucky to walk away with a share of the spoils after late chances fell to Salah and Ibrahima Konate.
Speaking afterwards, Neville said Xhaka had broken one of the rules of playing at Anfield by winding up the crowd.
‘I’m not pointing directly at the Xhaka incident where he got involved but there is a rule when you play here and it didn’t help,’ Neville said on Sky Sports.
‘There are some rules here: get through the first 25 minutes, play the ball forward and don’t let them press you early on, if the crowd are sleepy, leave it that way
‘Don’t wind the crowd up or give a stupid free-kick away. Don’t get involved in a fight because they want the fire here.
‘One team needs fire and that’s Liverpool and one team needs ice and that’s Arsenal. Arsenal got involved in fire before half-time and obviously they conceded.’
Xhaka has revived his Arsenal career in the last 18 months, having once told his own supporters to ‘f**k off’ during a draw against Crystal Palace in 2019.
And Wright feels that old criticisms of Xhaka remain, despite the Swiss now being one of Arsenal’s leaders.
‘It doesn’t take too much to get that crowd going. Even if Granit Xhaka went in there and slapped someone, it’s not going to get that crowd any more going than they were gonna get going,’ said Wright.
‘The fact is, he’s been brilliant for us this season. I think the narrative is people are trying to point at someone. That’s how he plays, that’s probably how he plays in his back garden.’
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