The Premier League was born in 1992 and Manchester United set a record in 1995 for biggest win, beating Ipswich Town 9-0. That record was equaled over the weekend, but you’d be forgiven for not realizing. I’ll give you a minute to think who it could be without googling the answer.
Normally a win of this magnitude would be met with weeks of press coverage, catchy, clever tabloid punchlines and a rundown of what the players ate for breakfast or how long their naps were before taking the pitch. United got that level of coverage back in 1995. Instead, Leicester’s 9-0 trashing of Southampton on Friday night, at St Marys Stadium, has all but gone unnoticed after Granit Xhaxa threw his toys out of the pram in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday to grab all the headlines.
The Switzerland International has been the focal point for Arsenal fans this season who are upset with the team’s performances and results, with it all coming to a head this weekend during another lackluster display by the Gunners.
After taking an early two goal lead and blowing it against Palace, Unai Emery tactically decided to replace his captain with a half hour remaining to try win the game (which they could have done if not for VAR). His removal was met with sarcastic cheers from the fans which soon turned to loud boos as he sauntered off the pitch at a snails pace, throwing the captains armband at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
You also don’t need to be a professional lip reader to see he twice mouthed the phrase ‘fuck off’, once after throwing the armband at his teammate and secondly as he finally left the pitch cupping his ear in a poorly thought out idea to rile the fan base even more than it already was, before removing his shirt and crumpling it up in a ball and heading straight down the tunnel to the dressing room.
Emery admitted after the game his captain was wrong, but insisted on keeping what would happen next in house. The only problem is that Xhaka has now put Emery between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn’t apologize, which he hasn’t as of writing, Arsenal fans will want him stripped of the captaincy and sold at the earliest convenience, something Emery will be reluctant to do as he struggles to get a Champion League spot.
If he does apologize and remains in the team the manager’s handling of Mesut Ozil becomes even more bizarre, having blackballed the German star nearly all season for his supposed attitude. If all it takes is an “I’m Sorry” can Ozil, possibly the most creative player Arsenal have, not do the same and reclaim his place?
Xhaka will not play Wednesday night as Arsenal face Liverpool in the EFL Cup which means Emery will face the full backlash of fans, with the majority wanting both manager and player gone. The irony of it all is, If Emery survives until the end of the season he may find himself finishing lower than record breaking Leicester City, a team managed by Brendan Rodgers. The same Brendan Rodgers who was ridiculed when his name was brought up as a possible replacement for Arsène Wenger two summers ago. I wonder who Arsenal fans would rather have now?