Xhaka says Arsenal fans’ behaviour has been ‘abnormal and excessive’
Granit Xhaka has accused Arsenal supporters of “abnormal and excessive” behaviour following the jeers aimed at the midfielder during the match against Crystal Palace last month.
During the 2-2 draw on October 27, Xhaka was substituted in the 61st minute, and as he made his way off the pitch, the Emirates Stadium crowd began to boo and jeer.
Xhaka reacted by cupping his hand to his ear, mouthing an obscenity towards the supporters, throwing away his captain’s armband, and furiously ripping off his shirt.
The Switzerland international released a statement on social media in an attempt to justify his actions, but fell short of a full apology. Instead, he admitted he had reached “boiling point”, making particular reference to the abuse aimed at his family.
Xhaka has not appeared in any of Arsenal’s squads since and has been relieved of the captaincy. Now in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick, Xhaka has doubled down on the reasons for his reaction and appears to hit out at Arsenal fans for causing a “bad atmosphere” around the club.
“When my shirt number lit up ... and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard,” he said. “I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.
“I don’t mean to say that I can’t take criticism. But insulting your own captain will cause a bad atmosphere for the team you are supposed to be supporting. That makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.”
Arsenal have endured a tumultuous start to the season following a run of just two wins from their past 10 Premier League games. They sit sixth in the table, eight points off the top four.
It has led to calls for manager Unai Emery to be sacked, while on the pitch Xhaka has been one of the key targets for the fans’ displeasure, but the midfielder has called for calm.
“I’ve been 100 per cent behind the club since I came here,” he said.
“But we’re at a point now ... that we ought to take stock and make sure that things are not getting completely out of hand.
“If I get constructive criticism or even more vehement insults, I try to take them calmly and objectively. But what happened here is abnormal and excessive and there can be no justification for it.”
Midfielder doubles down in interview with ‘Blick,’ says followers creating a ‘bad atmosphere’ around the club