Disgraced former Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray was not happy with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka on Saturday, calling him “nuts” and saying the penalty he gave away in the 2-1 Premier League loss to Manchester City was a “crime”.
Gray was speaking in his current capacity as a pundit on the Qatari channel beIN Sports and was incredulous about how a player as experienced as the Gunners’ Swiss midfielder could do something as silly as giving away a penalty against City.
Arsenal played well in the first half of their New Year’s Day game at the Emirates and took the lead through Bukayo Saka’s goal after half an hour.
But with nearly an hour gone, Xhaka brought down Bernardo Silva in the penalty area, starting a series of unfortunate events for Mikel Arteta’s team.
First, Riyad Mahrez emphatically converted the penalty, then, two minutes later, Gabriel Magalhaes was sent off for a second yellow card offence.
Finally, City grabbed a very late winner, with Rodri poking home from close range before being pelted with missiles by Arsenal fans while celebrating.
Gray was not pleased with Gabriel or Xhaka.
“If you look at… who committed the crimes, if you want, it was two of the more senior players,” the former Scotland international said.
“Certainly Xhaka, 30 plus, has not got the excuse of youth and naivety. He’s just nuts at times.”
Nigel De Jong, who completed a studio line-up of charming, sophisticated intellectuals alongside Gray and presenter Richard Keys, was clearly tickled by Gray’s bluntness, having a good giggle at Xhaka’s expense.
Gray carried on: “He is, isn’t he? You wouldn’t rely on him, would you? The amount of times he’s been sent off, or he’s given away a stupid penalty today.”
“Liability,” De Jong agreed, nodding with the certainty of a man who knows all about being a liability.
There’ll be plenty of Arsenal fans who were thinking the same as they watched the game, though.