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Lee Clark: Xhaka waited too long; Chelsea perfect for Gilmour; Newcastle goals

I listened to what Gary Neville had to say about Granit Xhaka and I totally agree with the fact that he seems a very ill-disciplined player. In terms of his play, he gives a lot of fouls away and gets a lot of yellow cards.

Arsenal fans have obviously felt he hasn't been performing to the required standard that they want, and they have got high standards because of the midfield players that they have had in the past, and have rightly been a bit disappointed with him.

Obviously everyone gets caught up in the emotion of the game. But the thing I found strange that it took 48 to 72 hours for him to come out and apologise. He had obviously done something wrong and you know you can't react like that to your fans, with the cupping of the ears and mouthing off, but in the heat of the moment sometimes things happen.

But you have got the come out and apologise as quickly as possible and put things right and be sincere with your apology. And it just seems like it took a long time to do it and that factors into the apology, where it now comes across as a bit contrived, and as a bit of an excuse.

I just think it hasn't been handled particularly well from anybody at Arsenal. It could've just been nipped in the bud the next day once you have settled down from the whole situation, you get away from the match and 24 hours later you just come out and publicly state that it was the wrong reaction, you apologise to your fans, you apologise to your teammates, your manager and his staff and then hopefully you can get back to concentrating on playing well and get back to winning the fans over.

But now I'm not so sure that Arsenal fans see it as a sincere apology. In terms of Unai Emery's role in all of this, I'm not sure about some of the speculation out there, but what did seem concerning when I heard his press conference was that Xhaka got picked as the captain by the players with a vote. That's a strange way of picking your captain, it's not a traditional way of doing it. It's really quite strange.


I was at the Newcastle-Wolves game last weekend and I thought the first-half was of a decent standard but in the second-half the home side were poor. What I'm concerned about most, and I'm sure Newcastle supporters are as well, is the lack of goals coming from Steve Bruce's side.

You have got Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Joelinton with one goal between them and no assists to their names this season, which is a very worrying stat because if you want to stay in the league you've got to win games and to do that you have to score goals. Just look at what Salomon Rondon did last season.

If your front players aren't firing it's a huge concern with the weeks ahead. At the moment it looks like one goal isn't going to be enough to win football matches. Steve was quoted as saying that he was disappointed with the second-half against Wolves in the way his team went on the back-foot. Wolves had to improve in the second-half, they looked like a team who had just played in the Europa League and were tired.

But Newcastle didn't have any impetus, didn't have any attacking threat in the second-half and allowed Wolves to dictate the tempo. And when you have had home games against Wolves, Brighton and Watford and never came out on top of any of them then it's concerning because they are the games you have got to win.


It's been a massive upturn on Manchester United's results. I think they've delivered some good performances in the last few weeks, coupled with impressive results. You can see some of the young players are starting to gain confidence and play to the level that's required of a Man Utd team, which I've talked about all season in this column.

Marcus Rashford is taking all the plaudits at the moment and rightly so, with the amount of goals he's scoring for his age. There's no doubt that they are still four or five players short of where they used to be as one of the superpowers of world football, they are short in many areas, especially in midfield. But signs are starting to look optimistic under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


I know a lot about Billy Gilmour from his time at Rangers. While I was manager of Kilmarnock, Billy was all the rave in Scotland. I watched him several times playing in U20 football so I knew he was an extremely talented young man. And he has come down south and certainly proved that. He has rightly got his rewards in the Carabao Cup playing against Manchester United and I thought he did well.

There is zero doubt about Billy's potential of becoming a top player for Chelsea. There is a great opportunity for him.

One thing he has going for him at the moment is that there is a manager in place at the club in Frank Lampard. I've touched on in past columns how impressed I've been with Frank's management this season, and as it goes on, I feel more like even without the transfer ban, he looks like a manager who likes to give youth an opportunity. I think the young players are going to get great chances beyond this season.

So for someone like Billy, he's probably working for the perfect manager in terms of his development and getting opportunities.

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Lee Clark

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