Xhaka says Arse­nal fans’ be­hav­iour has been ‘ab­nor­mal and ex­ces­sive’

The National - News - - SPORT - JON TURNER

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

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