Thursday 23 January 2020

Xhaka accepts Emery decision to strip him of Arsenal captaincy

V Guimaraes v Arsenal (Virgin Media Spt & Virgin Media Two,KO 3.50)

Unai Emery
Unai Emery

Unai Emery has stripped Granit Xhaka of the Arsenal captaincy following his recent outburst against supporters.

Xhaka told fans to "f*** off" as he was jeered following his substitution in a recent 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace - also removing his shirt and cupping his ears.

The 27-year-old has since issued an apology of sorts, explaining that ongoing social media abuse aimed at his family played a large part in his furious reaction.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Arsenal said they would offer counselling and other support mechanisms as Emery said Xhaka was "devastated, sad and very down".

The Switzerland international has since sat out the following the League Cup defeat against Liverpool and the draw with Wolves and has not travelled for the Europa League clash against Vitoria this afternoon.

And it was in Guimaraes where Emery revealed he had taken the decision to relieve Xhaka of the captain's armband.

"He is not today here, but also I think we need time with him and first protect him also to be calm and training with us every day," he replied when asked about Xhaka's continued absence from the team.

"But I was speaking with him this morning and also I decided he is not one of the captains in our group. I decided that and I told him this morning. He accepted my decision. And also I told the other captains the decision.

"I needed to make a decision and now it is closed."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes over the permanent role, although he was also not in the 18-man travelling squad for the match in Guimaraes and Hector Bellerin is likely to stand in instead.

Despite revealing his decision over the captaincy, Emery dodged questions as to Xhaka's long-term future at the club.

"The decision I took I told him and now it's continuing," he replied having been asked three times about if Xhaka had played his last game for Arsenal.

"But now the focus is tomorrow. He's not here. It's very important I respect a lot this competition and this Vitoria team."

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